by Matt Iaboni
There is no denying the fact that it has been an unbelievable year for Jerry D’Amigo. It is something that he can’t believe himself.
“It’s definitely been shocking,” D’Amigo said following his signing with the Maple Leafs.
After sitting and waiting until the sixth round to be drafted in 2009, it was all the fuel that D’Amigo would need as he prepared for his freshman season at RPI.
“From the Draft last year, I used that as motivation to get me in the position that I am no,” D’Amigo said.
D’Amigo was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year and also the ECAC Rookie Team.
A strong season was capped off by his stellar performance for Team USA at the 2010 World Juniors in Saskatoon. He was tied for third in the tournament with six goals and it was a big factor in his decision to leave school after just one year.
“With the World Juniors going the way they did and my progression throughout the year it led me to move on and seek better options for my career,” he said.
He leaves behind close friends, teammates and a coaching staff at RPI that D’Amigo will always be thankful for what they did for him during his one season. He had 34 points in 35 games.
“They helped me get where I am this past year and if I didn’t have a great season I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “The coaching staff, the whole program is on the rise.”
Over the past few seasons, the USNTDP has received lots of praise from general managers throughout the NHL for the work they are doing with young U.S. players.
That is where D’Amigo got his start and was a big reason he found himself at RPI.
“The USNTDP program helped me out tremendously with my ability and my strength to where I could be competitive at the college level and the World Juniors.”
Despite his strong on ice performance, D’Amigo still had a difficult choice to make but he relied on his parents, Pete and Gina, more than ever over the last few weeks.
“They’ve given me guidance and the positives and negatives and they are always there for me looking out for my best interest,” he said.
D’Amigo hasn’t been promised anything heading into the rookie tournament and training camp with the Leafs but that is fine with the 5-foot-11 forward.
“I’m just going to go in there at training camp and try and prove myself with the big guys and hopefully make a spot on the team,” he said. “They’ve given me this opportunity to shine with them.”
While many in Leafs Nation remember D’Amigo’s great speed from the Gold Medal game at the World Juniors, he offers a scouting report on his own game.
“My game is to be consistent and to always work hard,” he said. “Be that guy that goes into the corners to get the puck, a player that is willing to block shots, be on the penalty kill.”
In Binghamton, the NHL games on TV were usually the New Jersey Devils or New York Rangers and D’Amigo found himself following a Devils superstar who is similar in stature and hockey attributes.
“I’ve been watching Zach Parise,” D’Amigo noted. “I don’t know if I will be as good as him but I like to replicate my game after him.”
Earlier this summer, through his RPI coach Seth Appert and U.S.A. hockey, D’Amigo was able to train with Parise to get an up close look at the work that an NHL player puts in during the summer.
“It was tough but I realized how hard you have to work at the next level,” D’Amigo said.
D’Amigo could find himself knocking on the door this September which wouldn’t be shocking for him or the Leafs based on his quick evolution.