Basking Ridge’s Anthony Del Gaizo, a former standout with Delbarton and the New Jersey Rockets, led the United States Hockey League (USHL) in both goals (40) and points (72) while skating for the Muskegon Lumberjacks this season.
The 5′,11” 194-lb left-handed center, who also served as team captain in 2017-18, eclipsed the prestigious 100-point plateau with a goal in the final regular season game of the his career against the USHL Youngstown Phantoms on April 14 becoming the fourth Lumberjacks player to reach the milestone.
Del Gaizo, along with his brother, Marc, a defensive standout at Ridge High School who also skated in the Rockets organization, are both set to join the University of Massachusetts-Amherst next season.
What has helped you to be so successful this season? I think the chemistry that I have with my line mates Matej Pekar (Omaha commit) and Mikail Hakkarainen has really helped me produce so efficiently this year. We really do know where we are at on the ice at all times and always make smart, effective plays. I would say this is for sure the first time I have had chemistry like that in this league.
How have you been able to be so more efficient with the puck? I tend to score a lot of dirty goals which is part of the reason why I have been so consistent this year because there are opportunities to score in those areas every game. I do work on my shot quite a bit in the offseason which has definitely not hurt my transition scoring, which is now a huge part of my game.
What has John Lafontaine and the coaching staff at Muskegon helped you improve most in your game? Coach has really embraced my aggressive style and molded it into a complete consistent game. There were a couple times this year and last year that I could have been sat for taking a “bad” penalty because of an unnecessarily aggressive play, but instead of punishing me, he trusted that I would learn and make up for it un my own way. He never took away from my style of play or made me discouraged about my game.
As the team captain, what is the message in the locker room going forward? It is time for us to start playing playoff hockey and get more desperate to win games. Coach always talks about “peaking at the right time” to get ready for a playoff push and we are primed to do that with our top forwards healthy and our defense stabilized.
How fun has it been being able to play with your brother for so long and to be able to both be successful at a high level of hockey? Marc and me have a very special situation that I do not think we realize because to us its just another day and another year. Both our goals are to have success in college and to make it to the NHL, so, thinking about it now, it is fun to share this experience along the way.
In what ways do you think the USHL has best prepared you for your path to college hockey? I think the USHL has taught me a ton about competition. When I entered the league uncommitted, so every time I laced my skates up I was competing for a commitment. I think being uncommitted for awhile has made me a better player and person because I still have the hunger to beat guys out and put in the extra work to succeed. It also has taught me a lot about leadership, specifically when to push a teammates buttons or put an arm around him and show some love, because thee is a very distinct line.
What are you looking forward to most in attending Massachusetts? I am very excited to move onto the next stage of my life. College is going to be a tremendous experience in a bunch of different aspects.
What can UMass fans expect from you come next fall? UMass fans can expect me to be a tough, responsible player that takes as much pride in the d-zone as in the offensive zone. I love to score goals and make plays so hopefully I can make that happen next year.
— x–Muskegon Lumberjacks (@MuskegonJacks) April 14, 2018
— x–Muskegon Lumberjacks (@MuskegonJacks) April 15, 2018
Interview republished with permission from Cawlidge Hawkey Insider / @CHInsider
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