In the winter of 1990-91, Shawn Weller was a 4-year-old learning to skate in South Glens Falls.
He’d skate as a kid at a nearby outdoor rink, and started up with the Adirondack Youth Hockey Association as a 5-year-old.
Now in his ninth season as a pro, Weller is one of four nominees for induction into the Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Ever since I was a kid, all I wanted to do was play in the NHL,” Weller said. “Being from a small town, you need the help and support from your friends and family, and I always had that, and I think that’s why I went so far. I didn’t completely fulfill my dream of playing in the NHL, but I get to play hockey for a living, and I’m pretty grateful for that.”
The inductees will be announced today. The other nominees are Joe Paterson, Dale Krentz and Dave Hanson, all alumni of the Adirondack Red Wings of the 1980s and all Calder Cup champions.
Weller is the lone native, though, and he won his area championship as a sophomore with South Glens Falls in 2002, helping the team to its only sectional championship to date.
“We beat Glens Falls at the Civic Center, 5-2, and I think it was in 2002, to win the Section II [Division 2] title,” Weller said. “If I’m right, that was the first Section II hockey title South Glens Falls had won. Growing up watching the high school team play as a kid, then getting the opportunity to play with my friends and classmates for a year, it was great. To win the championship for our high school was a good feeling.”
Weller still gets back to the area during the summers and works out with some of the area players now and then.
He played his next two seasons with the Capital District Selects, then was drafted as a senior in high school by the Ottawa Senators in the third round, 77th overall.
“I’m a small-town kid, and that doesn’t happen very often,” Weller said. “For a while, I think the people back home felt a part of it, too, and they should have. I was a senior in high school, and the draft day was actually on my graduation day, so I missed my graduation ceremony to go to the draft, but that was a great experience for me.”
After three seasons with Clarkson, he turned pro and played seven seasons of North American minor-league hockey. In 294 regular-season AHL games, Weller totaled 44 goals, 43 assists and 204 penalty minutes. He’s played in 99 regular-season ECHL games (35-54-89, 99 PIM). In his last season in North America, he made it to the Kelly Cup finals with the Stockton Thunder, the franchise that will be moving to Glens Falls this coming offseason.
With so many AHL games under his belt, though, he is classified as a veteran, and teams are only allowed five, making roster spots scarce for him. Faced with the difficulty of finding a job in the AHL, or being relegated to the ECHL, or playing overseas, Weller chose to play in Germany the past two seasons.
He is now with the Dresden Ice Lions, holding on to the final playoff berth with just a couple games left in the DEL-2 season. It is the second-tier pro league in Germany, formerly known as 2.Bundesliga.
“I could have traveled and played in the East Coast league a little bit,” Weller said, “but I wanted to travel the world a little bit, and Germany has been a great place to live and a great country to play hockey in.”
Having played the game in nine different cities in the U.S., and now three in Germany over the past two years, hockey’s taken him quite a way. Still, being nominated for this recognition back home is exciting for Weller.
“It was kind of a surprise,” he said. “Being a local guy from the area, it’s an honor, and I’m hoping things work out and I’ll get inducted.”