It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Those words, originally immortalized by Charles Dickens in “A Tale of Two Cities”, might be the best way to describe this past season for 2014 Sharks third-round draft pick Dylan Sadowy.
On the one hand, the 6-foot-1, net-crashing forward enjoyed a breakout campaign with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit. He improved from scoring a team-low two goals in 2012-13 and being left out of Central Scouting’s Draft rankings prior to the season to scoring a team-leading 27 goals and wearing a Sharks sweater on Draft Day.
On the other hand, as much as the success of the past season should’ve made the last nine months the most enjoyable months of Sadowy’s life, his success came in the wake of extreme tragedy.
Terry Trafford, Sadowy’s close friend and junior teammate in Saginaw, went missing last February, only to be found dead a week later. Authorities deemed Trafford’s death a probable suicide; a final result of a terrible series of events which details are still shrouded in mystery.
“Him and Dylan were close friends,” says Spirit head coach Greg Gilbert of the relationship between Trafford and the Sharks’ 2014 third-round selection.
“Dylan’s a pretty stoic young man, and he’s got a good sense of humor. But, he was maybe a little quiet for a while after something like that happened. It was tough for him. It’s something you have to live with, you have to learn from it and you have to move on.
“Motivation was something that Dylan took from something like that that’s tragic, and he tried to use it in a positive direction for himself. This is something a mature young man would do.”
Looking at the bigger picture of life, the significance of athletic competition occasionally overshadows realities more integral to a person’s well-being than the final score. Although this almost makes it seem crass to relate the unnecessary loss of a 20-year-old kid who also played hockey to the goal-scoring binge his close friend and teammate went on following his passing, the fact is that the Sharks’ draftee did enjoy one heck of a season in the midst of what could’ve been emotionally crippling circumstances.
And although on-ice success seems to be a minor consolation prize for Sadowy in terms of a season where he forever lost one of his closest friends, it’s hard not to recognize the tangible effect that his on-ice success this year will have on Sadowy's life.
Because for a kid left off of Central Scouting’s Draft list last summer who seemed to be a longshot to be drafted, Sadowy’s fearless nature that allowed him to confront harsh realities off the ice and score the greasiest of net-front goals on the ice was something that may be what forever spawned his career, and a life, as a pro hockey player.
“He always told me I’d do it,” says Sadowy of his fallen teammate. “Right now, I know he’d be proud of me.”