By Brian Compton
Growing up in Iroquois Falls, Ontario, Doug Andress basically had no choice but to play hockey. After all, ice isn’t exactly hard to come by up that way.
“It’s a really small town,” the Johnstown Chiefs defenseman said. “It’s about 5,000 people. In the backyard, I had my own rink. There’s more outdoor rinks than indoor rinks. It was actually easy to get ice time as a kid.”
All of that time has paid off for Andress, who has enjoyed another quality season in western Pennsylvania, racking up 10 goals and 19 assists for the Chiefs. His efforts in Johnstown earned him a promotion to AHL Springfield earlier in the year, and Andress did not disappoint. He picked up two assists and recorded 16 penalty minutes in nine appearances.
“They played me pretty regularly on the power play,” Andress said. “I moved the puck really well. I’m not a great skater, but my smarts helped me out. I just moved the puck quick and tried not to get out of position. The coaches were pretty happy when I was up there.”
So was Andress, who finally received a well-deserved opportunity to play at a higher level. It made all of that time on the ice in sub-zero temperatures as a child worthwhile.
“It was good,” Andress said. “It was something that I always wanted. You always want to move up in hockey. It was a fun time. I enjoyed myself while I was up there. I didn’t really expect to get that much time up there.”
Johnstown head coach Frank Anzalone, who still has his team in the playoff hunt despite a massive number of call-ups and injuries throughout the season, was happy to see his No. 1 defenseman get a chance to play in the AHL. Anzalone believes Andress made a name for himself when the latter received an invitation to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s training camp last September.
“He’s a guy who has a reputation for not being a real good skater,” Anzalone said. “He tries to play smart and he’s worked on his skating. He went to Tampa’s camp and he really held his own, because I read his ratings. This year, he was a call-up for them. Here, he’s just a solid leadership guy. He’s a good guy to work with. He’s just a good person and he’s also a pretty good player.”