Former Crusher playing major role on Brampton blue-line

Christopher Cameron
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Darrigo glad to be back home playing hockey after junior experience

BRAMPTON, Ont. – After playing his final season of junior with the Weeks Crushers, Andrew Darrigo’s goal was to play professional hockey and the Brampton Beast of the Central Hockey League have given him that opportunity.

Andrew Darrigo is shown during Central Hockey League action with the Brampton Beast this season. Darrigo played last season with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers as a 20-year-old before graduating from the MHL.

The Georgetown, Ont., native wanted to play close to home and with the Beast only 30 minutes from his hometown it was a perfect fit.

“Playing in MHL with the Weeks Crushers was the best place I played through juniors,” he said. “The whole experience of playing with them and in the league helped prepare for professional hockey. That was my goal. Most guys want to go off to school after junior, but I wanted to play professional hockey and that really helped prepare me for it.”

Last season the stay-at-home defenceman had nine assists in 45 games with the Crushers. This season with Brampton through 17 games he has one assist.

He said this season he is the “young guy” on the team again after being amongst the oldest on the team last year as a 20-year-old in Pictou County.

“It’s a lot different because I’m at the bottom of the totem pole again,” said Darrigo. “Now it’s about working your way up and earning your spot again. It’s a lot of getting experience and learning from the veteran guys around you.

“You have to have a greater attention to detail and little things the coaches preach, which you can learn a lot from watching the older guys in the lineup.”

Darrigo added that since he’s a younger player he’s playing more of a shutdown role defensively, which he says is the style he likes to play. That is also what he was known for with the Crushers, being a physical, defensive-minded defenceman as he racked up 123 penalty minutes as a “tough guy.” This year in 17 games he has 70 penalty minutes with Brampton.

He said he learned a lot from the experience in Pictou County.

“It was just the whole experience of it (my time there),” he said. “It was just how tight the team was and how much I learned from the coaching staff; Jay (Malone), Chad (McDavid) and (Jeff) Green. I can’t say enough about whole experience in Pictou County.

“I played a leadership role with the Crushers last year being a 20-year-old, which really helped me mature as a player.”

The Crushers road trips last season to Campbellton and Yarmouth may have been painful at the time for Darrigo, but he said that helped him prepare for the long road trips they experience in the Central Hockey League. This Friday they are playing the Allen Americans, who are based out of Allen, Texas.

“We have a pretty heavy schedule with a lot of travel,” he said. “The closest game is in Illinois and that’s 12 hours away. We play about three games a week and because we’re on long road trips most times we’re playing three in four or five days sometimes. It’s definitely a big change (from the MHL), but they do the best they can to make it not as taxing on the player, whether it’s travelling on the bus or plane.”

Although he’s playing a lot of hockey far away from home, he definitely relishes the opportunity to be playing near a lot of people he knows.

“It’s amazing and it’s an awesome opportunity to play in front of family and friends on a more regular basis,” he said. “Being able to go home for nice meal and visit from time to time is a plus as well. I enjoyed my time out east, but it’s nice to be back home and still playing hockey.”

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Organizations: Central Hockey League

Geographic location: Pictou County, Georgetown, Campbellton Allen, Texas Illinois

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