WINNIPEG —; The Manitoba Moose found a diamond in the rough when they uncovered forward Dan DeSalvo in the East Coast Hockey League about a month ago. Even DeSalvo himself was surprised when he got word of the chance to play with the Moose.
“When the coach told me I was kinda like, are you serious?” De Salvo said.
“But he said yeah, so it caught me by surprise and I’m happy to be here.”
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DeSalvo, 24, is an American and this is the first time he’s lived in Canada. He grew up in a sports family in Illinois as his uncle, Jim Les, was a point guard in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings from 1988-1995. But hockey always came first for DeSalvo.
“My dad played growing up,” DeSalvo said. “He played college at St Mary’s. My brother played growing up. My mom was a figure skater so I kinda got pushed into skates right away.”
DeSalvo is a first year pro after four years at Bowling Green State University. He’s with the Moose on a professional tryout contract. DeSalvo is small in stature at only 5 foot 8 and 171 pounds but he certainly hasn’t disappointed with three goals and four assists in his first 11 AHL games.
“He has been a pleasant surprise,” Moose head coach Keith McCambridge said.
“He’s a smaller size guy but he sees the ice really well, he’s able to make plays, slow the game down and the skill set is one you look for in those smaller players.”
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Joining the Moose has been a reunion of sorts as DeSalvo played with Moose defenceman Peter Stoykewych with the Des Moine Buccaneers back in the 2010-11 season.
“We were best buddies down there,” DeSalvo said. “We drove to the rink every day together, we hung out all the time and whenever we had free time we’d do stuff together.”
And if DeSalvo continues to impress he could find himself back in Manitoba again next season.
WATCH: Manitoba Moose Profile Dan DeSalvo