Brad Fast traded in his green and white colours of the Michigan State Spartans for the red and black of the American Hockey League’s Lowell Lock Monsters, the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, in 2002-03.
Fast appeared in seven games at Lowell to conclude the season, notching a single assist in limited action. “That was an eye-opener. I had the opportunity to watch on video what the American Hockey League is all about. You know how good it’s going to be just because of all the good players but you are also one step away from the NHL.”
“I was trying to absorb as much as I could because it was the end of the season since we knew we were not making the playoffs.”
Once Fast got his initial taste at the pro level, the offensive success seemed to follow during the 2003-04 AHL season with Lowell. In 79 games, he put up ten goals and 25 assists to go along with 35 penalty minutes.
“It was fun. I got to go to my first NHL camp and then when I got sent down it was tough. You are playing all sorts of games and you have to prove yourself every single night because you got guys that are hungry and earning a paycheck every day.”
“The first 30 games I struggled pretty bad and then I slowly added pieces to my game where after Christmas, I got rolling pretty good and got myself in a good situation to get called up.”
Fast finally got the call of a lifetime from the Hurricanes, appearing in his first and only NHL game towards the end of the 2003-04 campaign. The Fort St. John product had the lucky fortune of scoring in his only appearance with the Hurricanes.
“That was a crazy day. I was thinking my season was done because most of my points in Lowell came in the second half of the year and based on how it works, you are waiting for someone to get injured or sick (to get called up). Right before the very last game, I got called into the office in Lowell and I was headed to Florida to play the Panthers the next night.”
“I remember everything about my goal. Going up the ice, Erik Cole passed the puck behind the net to Rod Brind’Amour and he passed it to me, so I kicked it up to my stick, looked up at the net, (shot it) and it went over Roberto Luongo’s blocker. I ended up tying the game so that was pretty cool too,” said Fast.
Caught in a numbers game
Like a lot of minor leaguers, the 2004-05 NHL lockout created a backlog for those right on the cusp of making it to the next level.
Fast was no exception and it turned out to be a struggle on the ice. He only registered six points in 32 games with the Lock Monsters before being sent down to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. Once in the Sunshine State, Fast collected seven points in 14 games and went on a deep playoff run, registering four points in 18 games.
“I did not play up to expectations and was asked if I wanted to go down (to the ECHL) where I could get more ice time. I didn’t think that was a bad idea, it was better for me to play. It was a tough year but I learned a lot of what it takes to fight for a championship.”
“The ECHL is a hard league because there are long bus trips and you are not given nearly as much stuff as you are at the higher levels. But the Everblades do things first-class in that league and it was a pleasure to play for them. We came up just short of winning it all but it was not for a lack of effort.”
The Everblades fell in six games to the Trenton Titans during the Kelly Cup Final. Over the summer, the Hurricanes didn’t offer Fast a qualifying offer and he became an unrestricted free agent. Fast then signed on with the Los Angeles Kings organization and spent the 2005-06 campaign with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. In 62 games, Fast tallied 18 points and appeared in seven playoff games.
Following his lone season with the Monarchs, Fast decided to take his game to Europe for the final five years of his career with stops in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Asia. Fast spent the 2006-07 season with SC Langnau of the Swiss A League.
“I wasn’t satisfied with that lockout year and I was building myself for another shot at the AHL because I was still young. I knew that I had the game to do so and I went over to Europe. I actually said no for a few weeks while I was home at Fort St. John and my agent said he was making the decision for me because he knew what was best for me.”
“My wife was pregnant with our first child and my agent said ‘This is the best move for your family.’ It wasn’t a move made out to lengthen a career that wasn’t there, it was taking an opportunity to play in a really good league and start a family.”
2007-08 turned out to be more challenging for Fast and he split the season between ERC Ingolstadt in Germany and EC Salzburg in Austria.
“That was a tough one. As much as I thought I was building my game up the year before, I went backward a little bit when I was playing for Red Bull (Salzburg). I ended up getting released so I could go to a different team in Germany and that was a great opportunity.”
“I got to play for former Edmonton Oilers (great) Mike Krushelnyski and had a lot of fun and found my game after Christmas.” To cap off his playing days, Fast, packed up his young family, spent three years in the Asia League with Anyang Halla, which is located in South Korea.
The now 41-year-old captured back-to-back Asia League titles but admits the idea to head to that part of the world took some convincing. “It was a tough sell, that’s for sure.”
“Once I made the decision to sign I still had to convince my wife. She was pregnant and about to have another kid so it was really tough. (At the time) I didn’t even know they played hockey in South Korea. We absolutely loved it. The fan support for our team was great but we had such a good community for our hockey team.”
Fast hung up his skates after the 2010-11 season and moved back to Michigan with his family. From 2015 to 2019, Fast was the Director of Hockey Operations at Michigan State University. This past season, Fast was on the coaching staff of the Meijer AAA Hockey 14U team of the North American Prospects Hockey League.