DANVILLE — A couple of years ago, Mike Chighisola was playing for the Danville Dashers as they got their first tie and their first win of the 2011-2012 season.
“I came in and I saw that they had the talent, but they just needed the confidence,” Chighisola said.
Chighisola was named coach of the Dashers in August and he is confident the team will make a quick jump to the top of the Federal Hockey League this season.
“Our motto this year is ‘It’s Our Time,’ and that is the attitude that we are feeling right now,” Chighisola said. “I talked to (Dasher Owner) Barry (Soskin) and we are committed to play hard and bring the cup back to Danville, where it belongs.”
Chighisola is the father of Dashers No. 1 draft pick Anthony Chighisola, who was picked by the team before Mike Chighisola was hired by Danville.
“He has a shoulder injury and he will not be ready right away,” Mike Chighisola said. “We don’t want to rush anything with any of our players.”
When Anthony Chighisola does get back on the ice, he will not be the only newcomer for Danville as the team has added some veteran players and players with experience playing in Europe.
“The premier pickup was our goaltender Nick Neidert,” Chighisola said. “He has played AAA hockey and we think that he will be the best goaltender in the conference.
“We have Matt Dietrich, who we got from the FHL free agent camp and he has skill and he works hard and we have Roman Andrejev played for Estonia in the World Junior Championship and he is good enough to play in the Central League and Edgars Ozolins, a 6-foot, 6-inch, 215-pounder from Latvia and with his size and skill, I would not be surprised if we are not talking about him in the NHL in five years.”
Along with the newcomers, there will be some familiar faces also playing at the David S. Palmer Arena this season.
“We have Ray Tremblay and he played here before and he came back after I talked to him,” Chighisola said. “He is tough and coachable and he has been a pleasure.
“We have Ryan Stern, our leading scorer from last year, coming back and he played some time in the ECHL,” Chighisola said. “He is someone that is going to be depended on.”
The Dashers start the season at the Palmer Arena on Friday against the Dayton Demonz and Chighisola said that this game will mark the end of teams marking Danville as a easy spot on the schedule.
“Danville is a blue-collar town and I think we have the team that can represent that,” Chighisola said. “We want to play physical and fast and let teams know that it will a tough time when you come here and that teams will not be excited to come here.
“Since I have come here, the people have been nice and I have been grateful for this job and I hope I can do my job to the fullest.”
The Dashers game will start at 7 p.m.