CALGARY - He might have played forward for half a season, but Calgary Roughneck Jeff Shattler was completely deserving of the NLL award handed to him Monday.
The league’s Transition Player of the Year was all over the floor for the Riggers, who took first place in the regular-season in part because of Shattler’s contributions on offence, in transition and on the powerplay and penalty kill units.
“I always thought of a transition player as a versatile player. I can play both ends,” the 26-year-old said over the phone after hearing the news. “I was pretty stoked about it all, to tell you the truth. It’s a great honour to be recognized for something like that.”
With a breakout 75-point season, Shattler led all transition players with 29 goals and was also the league’s best for points at the position.
He also picked up 93 loose balls and forced 12 turnovers in 15 regular-season games.
The Western Division all-star turned into a key weapon for one of the league’s most explosive offences during a season of transition after losing scoring stars Tracey Kelusky and Josh (Shooter) Sanderson.
“Our team had a great season, so I pretty much owe this award to my teammates and my coaching staff,” Shattler said just a couple of days removed from losing the Western Final to the Washington Stealth at the Saddledome. “It is satisfying, but it still stings to know what kind of team we had and what we could have accomplished.”
If they gave out an award for the toughest player, Shattler might be up for that one, too.
He played both playoff games with bruised ribs, and even though he says it didn’t affect him, there were times you could see he was clearly in pain while catching his breath.
“It started to feel a little bit better. There wasn’t much I could do with it,” Shattler said. “Now, I feel pretty good. I never really affected me in the (Western) championship game at all. I thought I should have played better.”
If things work out in Calgary and the Roughnecks remain together, the five-year veteran will get a chance to redeem himself in his sixth full season in the league.
He’s evolved from a supporting to a starring role now.
“The years creep up on you. Six years is a long time. I remember my first year moving to Calgary,” he said. “I think we’ve got a really good group of guys here. A lot of people doubted us throughout the season, and a lot of good rookies stepped up. I think it’s going to do really well coming up within the next five or six years. I think we’ll have a lot of runs at the Cups. We’re going to get better every year.”