MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Andrew Shaw relishes his role as the Owen Sound Attack's chief agitator, and he's not about to let three suspensions this season, including one for the final two games of the Ontario Hockey League championship series, change his ferocious style.
"I got to stick to my game that got me here so I'll keep going with it," Shaw said Thursday, prior to the Attack's 7-3 loss to the Kootenay Ice in the tiebreaker game at the MasterCard Memorial Cup. The defeat ended Owen Sound's tournament run. Kootenay advances to Friday's semifinal against the host Mississauga St. Michael's Majors.
As his teammates celebrated their seven-game league championship triumph over the Mississauga earlier this month, Shaw was in street clothes, watching from afar, after he was suspended for punching left wing Chris DeSousa earlier in the series.
"He's a pain when he's on the ice, and he loves to be that guy," Attack general manager Dale DeGray said. "They say guys play on that line. Sometimes he's on it, sometimes he's above it -- he's not too far above it."
After DeGray unsuccessfully tried to acquire Shaw last year, he finally got him in a three-player trade with the Niagara IceDogs in September. Shaw played well above expectations in a breakout season, seizing the increased ice time the Attack offered him to showcase some strong offensive skills to compliment his aggressive style.
With top scorers and NHL prospects Joey Hishon and Garrett Wilson injured for much of the Memorial Cup, Shaw's contributions were huge but ultimately not enough.
The center's 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) led all tournament scorers prior to Thursday's game. Prior to that, he was very good during the OHL playoffs, compiling 10 goals, 17 points and 53 penalty minutes in 20 games. He had 22 goals, 54 points and 153 penalty minutes during the regular season, all career highs for the 19-year-old who went unselected in the 2010 Entry Draft but remains eligible for this year's selection process.
"I love playing in the playoffs," Shaw said. "Last year I was hurt in the playoffs so I couldn't play my best. This opportunity, playing as many playoff games as we did, has just given me the experience I needed to prove myself."
DeGray added: "He’s got way higher skill than people give him credit for it. He's been a tremendous addition for us."
Could his strong showing this season piqué a team's interest at next month's draft?
"I don't know," said Shaw, who’s just 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. "I've been playing pretty well. I wouldn't be surprised."
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards believes the "huge impact" Shaw has made could make him an attractive option at the Draft.
"He's played very well down the stretch through the playoffs for Owen Sound," Edwards said. "He's certainly the type of guy, he's getting a lot of exposure right now on a big stage. (They are) big games right now so he's getting lots of viewings. He's certainly a guy that could be taken in June."
Teams could even find the out-of-control style Shaw often plays a positive.
"There are times when he does play out of control, right up against (the line)," Edwards said. "He's in danger of taking penalties on a lot of shifts. You know what? There's a place in the game for those kinds of guys, too. He's full of energy. He never stops moving or competing. Those are certainly things you like about the guy."
Still, Attack coach Mark Reeds sometimes must tell Shaw to reign in his aggressiveness. He got a bit out of control Thursday, getting whistled for three minor penalties, including a slashing penalty in the final minute of the second period that led to a Kootenay power-play goal by Matt Fraser 1:13 into the third period.
After Owen Sound led 2-0 after one period, the Ice scored six unanswered goals en route to the victory.
Shaw had a pair of assists, helping set up Cameron Brace's game-opening goal and Mike Halmo's power-play goal early in the third.
"He has an incredible ability to work," Reeds said of Shaw. "He's got passion for the game and obviously a lot of determination. Is he a gritty player? Yeah, he is. Does he play on the edge? Yes, he does. You can't take the bite out of the dog. That's what makes him the player he is.
"He does play on the edge sometimes. You have to be constantly in his ear controlling his emotion in the game. He needs to play with emotion to be effective."