Defenseman Marc Del Gaizo has always played the game of hockey with a chip on his shoulder. Growing up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, he’s the middle of three boys, all of whom are hockey players.
Things don’t come easy in the Del Gaizo household.
“We are blue-collared New Jersey boys,” said Del Gaizo. “Everything is earned in our house, that’s how our mother and father raised us.”
And that’s how Marc plays the game of hockey. Despite a successful rookie season in which he racked up the second-most points (23) among all rookie defensemen, and was named to the USHL All-Rookie 2nd team, Marc isn’t satisfied.
“I am very happy for what I accomplished, but I’m not satisfied. I worked really hard this summer in the weight room and on the ice, improving all areas of my game. I am determined to be a top defenseman in the league this year.”
“It was great to see Marc come to spring camp in really good shape,” said head coach John LaFontaine. “As a second-year player, he understood that he needed to get faster and quicker, and you could tell he’d been working at it. He was in maybe the best shape of anyone there.”
Longtime teammate (and older brother) Anthony has been a driving force for Marc since the two of them started skating together some 15 years ago. They each played for the New Jersey Rockets growing up, and were teammates for eight years there. Anthony, 19, and Marc, 17, will both attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst upon the completion of their USHL careers.
On the outside, you’d think the two were best friends- and you may be right- but the Del Gaizo brothers have had their share of fights, too.
“We used to fight all the time,” said Marc. “Not as much anymore, but we still compete. I would consider our end goals similar, but our personalities different.”
Marc checks in at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, and his summer workouts have added muscle to a set of hands that was a weapon for LaFontaine last year. Del Gaizo’s 23 points were second on the team among d-men, and his eight power-play points are more than any other returning Lumberjack.
“I was using my shot more effectively and putting pucks on net,” said Del Gaizo. “I have to give a lot of credit to [Casey] Gilling and [Mikael] Hak[karainen] playing the flanks. I think we had some good chemistry up top with those two.”
While Marc does consider himself a defenseman who likes to push the play up ice and create offense, he doesn’t want to be a one-dimensional player during the 2017-18 season.
“I consider myself a good puck-moving D, but also reliable in the defensive zone,” said Del Gaizo. “I try to model my game after Duncan Keith, a power play quarterback with a lot of skill and great vision.”
Like all of his teammates, Del Gaizo likes where the Lumberjacks stand heading into their 8th USHL season. The Jacks haven’t yet won a Clark Cup, but is this the year Muskegon earns another title?
“It’s going to be a great season,” said Del Gaizo. “We have a lot of skill and young talent coming in. I would say our first goal is to get into the playoffs- anything can happen from then on out. I definitely can see our team making a big run at the Clark Cup.”