Tuesday when he was named a starter in the upcoming ECHL All-Star Classic, Szydlowski said, "It's nice to be recognized but I wouldn't be having the success right now if it wasn't the situation I'm in with the Komets and be given every opportunity to be successful. I have help from all over the place, including some great linemates who are producing. I have a lot of people to help me get there."
Szydlowski, 26, leads the team with 19 goals and 26 assists and is second in the league with 45 points. During 14 December games, he scored. 11 goals and 28 points. Though he's a two-time Komets scoring champion and a two-time team Most Valuable Player, what's really interesting is that the Jan. 18 game in Glens Falls, New York, will be the first time Szydlowski has played in an all-star game.
Though he had decent scoring seasons during his junior days with Erie, his scoring really took off when he came to Fort Wayne four years ago, and his numbers continue to improve.
"You live and you learn in your experience in hockey," he said. "I have always had the skill to get me by at whatever level until I signed my first pro contract and then I understood how much hard work is necessary to gain consistent success. It was a tough learning curve there, and now I have the off-ice routine down pat and that has allowed me the confidence to play well at the pro level."
He was joined on the starting front line by Allen's Chad Costello and Alaska's Peter Sivak, and in the back by defenseman Justin Agosta of Manchester and Toledo's Jason MacDonald and goaltender Jason Phillips.
The reserves are Utah's Erik Bradford, Atlanta's Justin Buzzeo, Orlando's Tony Cameranesi, Reading's Justin Crandall, Colorado's Matt Garbowsky, Wichita's Alexis Loiseau, Florida's John McCarron, South Carolina's Steven McParland and Indy's Alex Wildeman at forward. The reserve defensemen are Greenville's Spiro Goulakos, Cincinnati's Eric Knodel, Wheeling's Kevin Schulze, Missouri's Kevin Tansey, Idaho's Travis Walsh and Rapid City's Michael Young. The back-up goaltender is Quad City's C.J. Motte.
No team earned more than one position, and the alternates are Brampton goaltender Zachary Fucale, Norfolk defenseman Aaron Harstad, Elmira forward Vaclav Karabacek and Kalamazoo forward Tanner Sorenson.
Szydlowski has also had many fans asking how he feels about the retirement of No. 19 this Saturday for Komets legend Terry McDougall. Szydlowski also wears No. 19 in honor of his idol, Steve Yzerman.
"I didn't know about it prior to this year or else I would have probably have changed to a different number," Szydlowski said. "As good a career as Terry had here, I'd be honored to have my number retired, too. He said he'd be fine with me wearing it the rest of the year. It's more up to him. I respect his input in the situation. It is for him and he definitely deserves it. For his size and the style of play back then, how rough and tough it was back then, whatever his wishes will be... I'll go along with that."
The pair spoke Tuesday afternoon, and McDougall reiterated his desire for Szydlowski to wear No. 19 the rest of the season.
If Szydlowski did need to switch numbers, did he have a replacement favorite?
"I was thinking I'd go with 79," he said with a grin.
No. 79 was the number for former Komet Kaleigh Schrock who is retired now and is the director of athlete development at the Parkview IceHouse. Szydlowski and fellow Komet Mike Embach are among those who help Schrock by coaching younger players on Monday nights. Schrock was also a teammate for two seasons when Szydlowski came to Fort Wayne.
"I was going to do it if I had to just to mess with him," Szydlowski said. "Embach said he wanted to have bet how long it would take me to outscore Schrock in his old number. I don't know if I'd do it 100 percent but it sounded like a good idea."
If Szydloski stuck around to score 82 goals (including playoffs) and continue coahing on Monday nights, Schrock would probably be fine with that.
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.