BY AARON PATTERSON
He’s been preaching it all season long, and Danville Dashers coach Rob Schweyer saw on Saturday the fight and resilience that he knew would eventually come from his squad.
To be fair, the Dashers have shown the extra effort over the last 12 games. But on Friday, nearly 1,000 fans were in attendance at Palmer Arena to witness not only the highest scoring output by the Dashers this season, but an incredible determination that saw Danville recover from a five-goal deficit to ultimately defeat the 1000 Islands Privateers 11-10 in overtime.
The win was the Dashers’ eighth in their last 12 tries, and continued a hot streak that has caught the attention of numerous teams around the league.
“We’ve been down a lot this year, so I guess we just didn’t think about it and we just kept playing,” Danville forward Darick Ste Marie said of the come-from-behind effort. “It was weird. After the first period, it was already 5-4 for the other team, so there were a lot of goals in one period. But I guess we just didn’t stop playing. We were not really playing good for the first two periods, but I guess we got some lucky bounces to stay in the game and we finally won the game.”
Ste Marie recorded a hat trick, completing the feat by scoring his third goal of the contest with one minute, 51 seconds remaining in regulation. The goal tied the game at 10-10, but his most important of the three might have been his first.
Trailing 9-4 in the second period, Ste Marie found the back of the net 15:19 into the frame to pull to within four. It was the first in a dominating finish for the Dashers who went on to outscore the Privateers 7-1 in the final 27:57 including overtime.
“We’re so offensively talented, but it comes from hard work,” Schweyer said. “When you try and play pond hockey, so-to-speak, we get out-talented. Our success comes from our work ethic and our systems. When we play sound defensively, we kill other teams. And we proved it in the third period. We didn’t have turnovers, we didn’t have unsmart — not stupid — but we didn’t have a lot of mental lapses in the third period, whereas in the first two periods, we took them too lightly.”
Following Ste Marie’s goal, Chris Affinati, Kevin McCready, and Henry Coxe all scored in addition to Ste Marie’s final two scores. Coxe then put in the game-winner with 1:44 left in overtime to secure the win.
After putting up such a great fight to come back, Schweyer had no doubt his team would leave Palmer Arena victorious.
“We knew we weren’t going to lose the game, whether it was in overtime or whether it was in a shootout,” Schweyer said. “When you work that hard, you know good things are going to happen. The guys believed in it. In overtime, I don’t think (1000 Islands) ever really touched the puck. When they did, they had one opportunity to shoot from the blue line, and we went on the attack again. Once again, I just preach, preach, preach hard work, and hard work is going to pay off.”
Schweyer hopes to see more of the same hard work pay off as the upcoming schedule has the Dashers on a seven-game road trip, including contests against Dayton, Danbury, and Williamsport. He is confident, though, that their most recent come-from-behind win will prove beneficial in having a successful trip. It’s the overall resilience and determination of the Dashers that has the team playing with the most confidence they’ve seen all season.
“As a coach, you want to instill that in every individual that you come across in life,” Schweyer said. “When you come up against an obstacle in life, do you bury your head and accept it, or do you work through it and try to become a better person and succeed?
“It took two periods, but it’s just that belief system that I’m trying to instill in each and every one of these guys that you’re never down and out. I mean, worst-case scenario, you look good because you came back and fought so hard. If it’s not your night, you’re going to do your best and you’re going to lose. It’s just the way of the world, and they chose to go against the odds and work through it, and they came out victorious. I was very proud of those guys.”