A little more than a year ago, center Andrew Desjardins
rolled into Worcester as a virtual unknown.
Now, it's hard to imagine the Sharks' lineup without him.
Desjardins has made himself the team's "Mr. Indispensable" with a franchise-record 118-straight games played and counting. On a roster of top stars and prospects, Desjardins is one of the pluggers who almost always get things started and finished.
"Obviously, your body feels aches and pains," said Desjardins, 23. "Everybody goes through that. I guess I've just been fortunate not to receive any injuries that would keep me from playing. I actually never thought about that much at all until my mom mentioned it to me about three weeks ago. It's luck more than anything else."
The third-liner makes his own good fortune. As a rookie in 2007-08 he played for Laredo of the Central Hockey League, polishing his scoring touch with 22 goals and 37 assists. Last season, he showed up in Worcester's camp as an extra body and worked his way into an AHL-ECHL deal. He began that season with five games in Phoenix of the ECHL, then got a spot in Worcester that he's yet to surrender.
"He just competed and finished checks. You know what you are going to get every night," Worcester General Manager Mike Mudd said.
"I have to give myself a little credit," Desjardins said. "I worked hard and did everything I could to stay. I knew I could stay in this league."
Desjardins worked his way to an AHL-only deal this season, and since then has made it nearly impossible for Sharks coach Roy Sommer
to take him off the ice. He's become a scoring threat from his checking-line spot with 12 goals. More importantly, Sommer starts Desjardins and linemates John McCarthy
and Dan DaSilva
in every game, regardless of the matchup. That trio also is likely to be the one on the ice in the last minute of a close game.
"I try to always keep the momentum forward for our team," Desjardins said. "That's the main thing when I'm on the ice. Everybody wants to score more and more. But you are good at what you are good at, right? You have other responsibilities other lines don't. You have to excel at those. As soon as you try to do too much, you end up hurting yourself more than gaining something on the ice."
Good luck charm for Tyrell
-- A teammate gave Norfolk forward Dana Tyrell
the puck after he scored against Lowell on Jan. 24 as a memento of his first pro goal.
The gesture was well intentioned but off the mark. Tyrell had already hit that milestone two years ago for the Admirals.
"I don't think everyone knew I had one," he said. "I'm going to keep it. Hopefully, it will bring me a little bit of luck."
That's a gift that Tyrell can really use.
Tyrell, 20, scored his first of the season in his 39th game. He produced his initial pro goal at the end of the 2007-08 campaign, when he joined the Admirals following his season with Prince George of the WHL.
Last season, Tyrell, a second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2007, was in line for a spectacular farewell with the Cougars by totaling 19 goals and 21 assists in his first 30 games. But he tore knee ligaments in an exhibition contest for Canada prior to the World Junior Championship, ending his season.
Tyrell rehabbed and regained his game-changing speed heading into this season, but that paid off with only 9 assists before he was the difference-maker in the 1-0 game against the Devils.
"I knew I was playing well. I just needed to get that one to go in for me," he said. "It felt like a lot of weight coming off my shoulders there. It was like a breath of fresh air to see it go in. I'm glad I got it, and I won't stop there."
-- The revivals of Lake Erie and veteran forward Marty Sertich
are running along parallel tracks.
Sertich played in just 24 games for the Monsters last season because of concussion problems. The loss of his scoring punch was a significant reason why the team missed the playoffs.
Sertich started slowly again this season, as did the Monsters. But he has 4 goals and 12 assists in his last 16 games, a stretch in which the team has gone 11-4-0-1 to reach the .500 mark.
"Not playing many games last year, that probably hurt me," Sertich said. "It made for a long year last year. Everybody is feeling better about ourselves (now). Things just started falling our way a little more. I knew the points would come."
Around the AHL
-- Lake Erie's franchise-record crowd of 18,626 at Quicken Loans Arena that saw the Monsters edge Texas on Jan. 22 was the fifth-largest crowd in AHL history. … Peoria rookie Aaron Palushaj
has just 3 regulation goals this season but is 5-for-7 in shootouts. … During five seasons (2002-07) as a member of Grand Rapids, Joey MacDonald
won 38 games at Van Andel Arena. He earned his first victory as an opposing goaltender at the venue Jan. 22, making 24 saves to lead Toronto to a 4-1 victory against his old team. … Hamilton forward Mikael Johansson has been reassigned to Farjestads BK of the Swedish Elite League. Johansson, 24, played in 20 games with Hamilton this season, compiling 3 goals and 3 assists. … Peoria has reached an agreement to continue playing its home games at the Civic Center through the 2014-15 season. … Syracuse forward Derek MacKenzie
's shorthanded goal against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Jan. 22 was the ninth of his Crunch career, tying him for first on the club's all-time list with Brad Moran
and Joe Motzko
. … Albany tied a franchise record Jan. 23 by allowing just one shot during the first period of its 3-2 win against Adirondack. … Manchester outscored Hartford 19-4 in winning all four meetings at the Verizon Wireless Arena this season. ... After beginning the season with a respectable 4-3-0-0 mark against its three rivals from Illinois through Dec. 14, Grand Rapids has since posted a combined record of 1-6-0-1 against Chicago, Peoria and Rockford, including four straight losses by a cumulative score of 17-8. … Milwaukee set a franchise record against Chicago on Jan. 22 by surrendering a goal just nine seconds into the game. That broke the old mark of 10 seconds, set Feb. 5, 1988 against the Fort Wayne Komets. … After dropping its first five shootouts of the season, and 10 of 11 dating back to last season, Milwaukee is producing success in that drill. The Admirals have won three straight shootouts, including back-to-back wins against San Antonio last weekend. … An AHL team has scored at least eight goals in a game on six occasions this season, and Hershey is responsible for five of those efforts after pulling the trick twice against Manitoba last weekend. … Ending a 105-game drought, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Nate Guenin
scored his first goal since March 28, 2008, in the Penguins' 6-3 win at Syracuse on Jan. 22. … Hartford's 16 shots against Springfield on Jan. 23 tied a franchise low for a single game.