HALIFAX — The Halifax Mooseheads coaching staff will tell you Darcy Ashley doesn’t need to score to make his presence felt, and the 19-year-old doesn’t dispute that.
While recognizing the myriad of contributions he makes that will never show up on a scoresheet, Ashley also doesn’t want to see, for the rest of his career, another 24-game goalless slump like the one he ended Sunday.
“I think hockey players go through those kinds of things sometimes,” said Ashley, who has 12 points in 13 games but hadn’t scored since Game 1 of the QMJHL quarter-finals against
the Quebec Remparts on April 6.
“It creates adversity and you have to persevere through it and keep going and keep working.”
Working is what the five-foot-eight Ashley does best, whether he’s scoring or not. He has always been known for his dogged determination — named co-winner of the team’s hardest-working-player award last season along with Trey Lewis — but with the departures of captain Cameron Critchlow and penalty-killing ace Brad Cuzner, he’s needed more than ever to provide a jolt of energy.
Although the Brooklyn, P.E.I., native has been used on three different lines through 13 games — most recently with the surging duo of Matthew Boudreau and Luca Ciampini — he’s made every one of them click.
I’m one of the older guys now and you want to bring it every shift, every game, and your bench feeds off that. You want to make sure you’re doing the little things well. - Halifax Mooseheads right-winger Darcy Ashley.
“If you look at last year, everywhere we put Critchlow, any line combination, it seemed to work — and it’s the same with Darcy this year,” said Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme. “With (Nathan) MacKinnon, with Boudreau, with (Brent) Andrews, he always seems to bring energy to the guys he’s playing with.”
Ducharme is using Ashley on both special teams and said “quite often, he’s bringing momentum on our side” through his agitating style and willingness to fight for the puck.
That’s not to discount Ashley’s offensive contributions. He finished among the Mooseheads’ top four scorers in each of the past two seasons and is coming off a 23-goal, 55-point campaign. If he can get back to finding the net with his usual frequency, he’ll be in that group again.
“It felt great to get the monkey off my back,” Ashley said. “I’m hoping I can pot a few more the next few games and stay consistent scoring goals.”