Following 10-goal CCHA Tournament, DeSalvo aims for more consistency

Senior Reporter and Senior Reporter

Listed at five-foot-eight and 170 pounds, Dan DeSalvo doesn’t have the size of a stereotypical hockey player.

While some people view that as a negative quality, DeSalvo has done everything he can to prove that it’s not size that matters, but rather skill and instincts — two things that he has plenty of.

However, being a smaller guy does mean he has to approach the game in a different way. But that’s something that hasn’t given him too much of a problem.

“I mainly just have to protect myself, and try and hold guys along my back,” he said. “I have to keep my head on a swivel. Being a smaller guy, everyone looks to try and knock you around a lot, so as long as I keep my head up and use my vision, that helps a lot.”

DeSalvo came to BG in 2011 as part of a talented freshman class. Early on, he proved to be one of the team’s bright spots amidst a 4-1-1 start to the 2011-12 season.

He scored his first collegiate goal in his second game, a 4-4 tie against UConn, which started a five-game points streak where he recorded two goals and three assists. In those games, BG was 3-1-1.

Then he went cold.

Mired by nagging injuries, DeSalvo scored only two goals the rest of the regular season.

Then things clicked once the playoffs came around.

In the Falcons’ two playoff series victories — a pair of three-game sets against Northern Michigan and Ferris State — DeSalvo scored 10 goals and added three assists in the six games. The 13 points accounted for more than half of the 25 points he had last season.

“I was just playing with a lot more confidence,” he said. “Me, [Ryan] Carpenter and [Adam] Berkle were working really well as a line, especially toward the end of the year. Our chemistry grew throughout the year and we just found a way to click with each other.”

In the process of that offensive onslaught, DeSalvo broke the Central Collegiate Hockey Association record for goals in the conference tournament. The previous total was eight, held by Mike Knuble, Bobby Reynolds and Rick Brebant.

With the CCHA disbanding following the season, that his record is something that may be forever etched in the books.

“I’m proud of [the record],” DeSalvo said. “I wasn’t going in looking to break any records, I was just trying to help the team get as far as we could and sure enough I got that honor.”

After spending all of last season as a winger, DeSalvo embraced a new challenge for this season: playing center.

It is a position that typically requires more of a defensive commitment. However, DeSalvo embraced the change and coach Chris Bergeron felt DeSalvo felt that he is to good with the puck on his stick to keep him as a winger.

“He’s a kid who wants to play with the puck on his stick, and centers generally have the puck on their stick more,” Bergeron said. “He’s a really good hockey player. He’s very smart; he rarely cheats the game by cutting corners, and he’s really shifty with the puck.”

One negative side effect of taking DeSalvo off the wing was that it broke up the DeSalvo-Carpenter-Berkle line that proved to be lethal in the CCHA Tournament.

However, Bergeron said that wasn’t the deal because he was more concerned about creating offensive balance when he made the move.

“We don’t want one line to be our offense, and that line had evolved to be the talk of our playoffs, and our team is much more than one line,” he said. “We wanted to spread it out a little bit, and we really wanted to see Danny at center.”

Some of that skill at center was evident this past weekend.

In Saturday’s tie against Niagara, DeSalvo picked up the primary assist on the second BG goal on a slick pass from behind the net.

In Sunday’s exhibition game victory against OIT, picked up another assist, feeding Ben Murphy with a perfect cross-ice saucer pass on a two on one, and scored a goal on a howitzer of a slap shot from the point.

“He has great vision on the ice, he’s able to see things that a lot of other guys can’t see,” said Berkle, who spent much of last season playing on the same line as DeSalvo.

While he has shown that he has the capability to be a huge point producer for the Falcons, DeSalvo said the biggest thing he needs to accomplish this year is to be more consistent.

“I just have to find a way to help the team out and put points on the board,” he said. “I just have to click with my line and do the best we can to keep the puck in the offensive zone.”