Less than an hour after scoring the game-winning goal for the Toledo Walleye on Sunday, young forward Dylan Sadowy got the call that he'd been called up.
Sadowy, a 21-year-old in his second year of pro hockey, scored late in regulation to lift the Walleye to a 1-0 victory over Wichita. After meeting with the media, Sadowy climbed into his parents’ car for a trip back to his hometown in suburban Toronto.
As he was leaving the parking lot at the Huntington Center, his cell phone rang. It was Walleye coach Dan Watson telling him he had been promoted to Grand Rapids, Toledo's affiliate in the higher-level American Hockey League.
“It happens,” said Sadowy, who instead drove to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Sunday night to join his AHL teammates.
WATCH: Dylan Sadowy highlights
The left winger and highly regarded prospect wasn't complaining.
“You always want to get back up to that next level,” he said. “You hope to get that call. You always want to play at the highest level you can. I hope to get into some games and perform.”
It was Sadowy's performance of late that led to his promotion. Sadowy extended his point streak to four straight games on Sunday.
The native of Woodbridge, Ont., has bounced between Toledo and Grand Rapids in his first two seasons. So far this year he has tallied 21 points with six goals and 15 assists in 30 games with the ECHL Western Conference-leading Walleye.
Sadowy has accumulated nine points in his last 10 games with four goals and five assists.
“I've been getting my confidence back here,” Sadowy said. “The guys here help you get through [tough stretches]. I'm getting into a groove.”
Sadowy (pronounced SAD-oh-way) was selected in the third round of the 2014 NHL draft by San Jose. The Detroit Red Wings then traded for Sadowy in May, 2016, in exchange for a future third-round draft pick.
Red Wings officials believe Sadowy has shown great promise with his offensive capabilities. Grand Rapids coach Todd Nelson said he likes what he sees in Sadowy.
“He is a young kid. I see the maturity in him. I see him taking ownership of his game,” Nelson told the Detroit Free Press when Sadowy was initially with his team during training camp. “He is on the right track. Dylan has a great shot and a nose for the net.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound winger has already played in eight games for Grand Rapids this season but has not recorded a point. As a rookie last year, Sadowy registered six points, including four goals, in 38 regular season games with the Griffins. He also was a part of the team’s Calder Cup championship.
Sadowy played in six games with Toledo last season, posting four points with one goal and three assists. The youngest player on the Walleye roster is still adjusting to the pro game.
BLADE BRIEFING: Dylan Sadowy aiming for the top
Sadowy said he likes playing in the tough areas in front of the net.
“I like the gritty play,” he said. “I like getting under your skin. I like getting dirty goals.”
Prior to turning pro, Sadowy excelled in the Ontario Hockey League, scoring more than 40 goals in each of his last two seasons. He played four seasons in the major junior league (2012-16) and accumulated 188 points (116 goals, 72 assists) in 258 regular season games. He scored 42 goals with Saginaw in 2014-15 before banking 45 in 2015-16 between Saginaw and Barrie.
Dylan's younger sister Caitlyn is a junior at Robert Morris University, where she is a forward for the women's hockey team.
“Growing up in the Toronto area, there was always hockey. My dad taught us to skate in our backyard,” Sadowy said.
Sadowy was just 18 when he and his family traveled to Pittsburgh to attend the NHL draft.
“My agent had told me I might get drafted,” Sadowy said. “To hear your name called and to put on that sweater and hat and getting your picture taken … it's a dream.
“Then when I got traded to Detroit, I was so happy that we're giving me this opportunity. I'm more than happy with where I am.”
Sadowy said the move also allowed him to keep playing close to his home.
“I spend every weekend in the summers at my cottage with family,” he said. “There's nothing more important than family.”
Sadowy said he and his Walleye teammates have come together in recent weeks. The Walleye (33-12-4) entered Tuesday night's game at Brampton on an eight-game winning streak.
“Everyone is doing all the small things right,” Sadowy said. “Our goaltending is phenomenal right now. The D are playing great. Our forwards are getting pucks in the zone and we're scoring and finishing. The coaching staff is great. Hopefully, we'll keep it rolling.”
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