If Marc Del Gaizo could draw attention on the ice with the way he brought finesse to playing defense, older brother Anthony could make his mark with bringing more brute force to the forward position.
Marc, 18, was the first to draw attention from the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and the first to set up his future at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Anthony, 20, never stopped working and, using his own approach to the forward position, now has his own first — the first position on the United States Hockey League scoring list.
The two brothers from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, had each attended USA Hockey’s National Player Development Camps and Marc had been selected by Muskegon in the USHL Draft when the Lumberjacks were keeping their eye on him with the New Jersey Rockets during the 2015-16 season.
Anthony scored 39 points in 22 games for the Rockets that season and wound up spending a greater portion of the season in the USHL.
“I just had a tremendous year and got so much better as a player,” said Anthony, who had returned to the Rockets program when he felt his development had stalled in three years of high school hockey. “… I wasn’t really on anyone’s radar.
“I got called up to Muskegon because Marc had been drafted here and the general manager was keeping tabs on him and saw me play. It wasn’t the best year statistically, but I learned a lot.”
The brothers have been teammates for the past two seasons and will be again in the fall when they both report to Amherst. Marc is the second-highest scoring defenseman in team history and leads the league’s defensemen in goals (12) while ranking third in points (38).
Anthony is in the midst of another breakthrough season, tripling his scoring output to league-highs of 39 goals and 71 points.
Coach John LaFontaine said that Anthony’s offseason work added enough speed to make the most of the other traits he brings to the ice.
“He worked so hard over the summer and the main thing he worked on was his explosiveness in his skating,” LaFontaine said. “That was really all that was missing.
“He really put time in and that made a difference. He did a lot of stretching and yoga and that all added up to the kind of season he’s having.”
Del Gaizo ranked with the league leaders all season. Recently, he increased the pace with a 13-game scoring streak in which he produced seven goals and 12 assists.
“He’s using his smarts, his strength on the puck, his quick release and his determination,” LaFontaine said. “Not too many go to the net like him; not too many find the open areas or fight for loose pucks like him.
“His compete level is off the charts.”
Anthony said it was a matter of making the most of an opportunity when his team’s needs changed.
“I’ve always kind of played my role,” he said. “Last year, we had superstars like Andrei Svechnikov and Collin Adams. That wasn’t my role to score goals. It was my role to shut down players and be awesome on defense. I was more of a high-energy, penalty-kill guy.
“This year, I still do play defense well and I’m still out there on the penalty kill, but I had a window of opportunity to step up and be a point guy and a power-play guy and I stepped through that door.”
LaFontaine is happy with the production of two brothers that he says he can count on to both provide smart play while competing intensely. And, he appreciates the distinction in the styles they bring to the game.
“I’ve always been a forward and he’s always been a defenseman,” Anthony said, “but, I’m more of a heavy, rugged player and he’s played with more finesse and skills.
“You would think those attributes would be opposite being that I’m a forward and he’s a defensemen.”
Each has used his own skill set to score goals at a higher rate than any USHL player at his position.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc. Photo courtesy of Hickling Images.