Freshman Birdie Shaw’s play has been compared to that of a pitbull, while players and coaches have praised her for her aggressive style.
“She’s a very quick skater. She brings a lot of energy,” Shaw’s former coach, Ryan Pardoski said. “Aggressive, relentless…she’ll make things happen on the forecheck, stick her nose in there.”
Shaw described herself as a grinder but also as a team player, one that is remembered by her love for hockey and her smile.
“I just remember her passion for playing the game,” Pardoski said. “I remember she came out on the ice, and she just had a smile on her face the whole time and just the way she played and the way she competed.”
Shaw was born Samantha Shaw but never went by that name. Shaw said her brother struggled to pronounce her name and it came out something like “Manta-bird.” Her father picked it up and kept referring to her as Birdie since she was three months old.
Shaw first hit the ice as a figure skater, but she said everyone always told her she skated like a hockey player. She followed those words and followed her brother’s footsteps into the sport.
The 5-foot-2 forward is now tied for the team lead in goals with two. Head coach Josh Brandwene said her success this season has come because of her attitude, work ethic and energy.
“You can see the way she plays the game — she gives 100 percent all the time,” Brandwene said. “It was real important for us as a program to make sure we have everybody bought into giving 100 percent.”
Shaw said she goes hard all the time into the corners and, she does not have any dangles — hockey vernacular for creative stickhandling.
Although Shaw is known for her tough style, she regards herself as one of the funniest people on the team.
Defender Jordin Pardoski, daughter of Ryan, said one of her favorite things about Birdie is her laugh.
“When she laughs, its stops a whole room because she has such a profound laugh,” Jordin said. “It’s really funny.”
Shaw and Jordin played together at Detroit Honeybaked last year, a hockey club in their home state of Michigan, and won the 19U state championship.
Jordin said she was extremely excited when she found out they were both going to Penn State and immediately wanted to be roommates. The two spent the summer session at Penn State, and Jordin said having Shaw helped her transition to college.
“It was nice having a comfort zone and coming here knowing that you know one person really well,” Jordin said.
Having spent so much time on and off the ice together, Jordin considers Shaw part of the family and knows her strengths as a hockey player.
Jordin said forechecking and backchecking are among Shaw’s strong suits. However, since the two played for Honeybaked, Jordin said Shaw has improved in the defensive zone by working on her starts and stops from the point.
Ryan Pardoski came to watch the games against Syracuse last weekend and said he was proud of both Jordin and Shaw. Pardoski said he is excited to see them be a part of the program Brandwene is putting together.
“Birdie’s not the most vocal person, but I think she can be a quiet leader on the team,” Ryan Pardoski said. “A great example to her teammates based upon her work ethic and her relentlessness.”