By Mike Mastovich
For The Tribune-Democrat
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Greg Gallagher hasn’t changed his game or philosophy on the ice in the past three months.
The Johnstown Chiefs defenseman has done nothing to tarnish the notion that he was a waiver wire steal in late December after his release from the Pensacola Ice Pilots.
Gallagher, 24, toils on the blue line with consistency, nothing flashy. He just gets the job done on most nights.
There has been one significant difference, though, when it comes to the 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Framingham, Mass.
In his past five games, Gallagher netted his first ECHL goal and accounted for three points and a plus-2 rating. Not bad considering that he had no goals and two points in his first 34 games with the Chiefs.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything different,” Gallagher said Wednesday night. “Things are just starting to happen. I guess maybe it’s a comfort level, but at the same time I don’t think I’ve changed the way I’ve played. I’ve just got the opportunity.”
Gallagher began the ECHL season in Cincinnati, but was released on Nov. 23 as the Cyclones, destined to clinch the North Division a few months later, had too many names on their roster.
Four days later, Pensacola claimed Gallagher off waivers, but he once again was released in late December. Chiefs coach Ian Herbers plucked Gallagher off the waiver wire on Dec. 27.
Gallagher appreciated the third chance.
“Herbs has given me the opportunity to play in every situation,” Gallagher said. “Our defensive corps is strong enough that we can roll six all game. That makes a difference in terms of being comfortable with the guys you’re playing with.”
High-scoring defenseman Mike Knight and Gallagher were a defensive pair early during his time in Johnstown. But Knight had an extended call-up. After that, Gallagher and defenseman Brandon Straub skated together.
“That’s worked out pretty well. We’re roommates,” Gallagher said. “We have a good time on the ice. It’s fun. That makes a difference.”
Herbers is thankful that Gallagher has fit in so well.
Recently, the Chiefs lineup has been shuffled and many players, especially defensemen, have had to revise their roles.
“Gallagher has just been good, solid and steady since he’s joined us,” Herbers said. “He plays a very simple and smart game. He’s able to contribute in all different parts of the game – power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5. He’s been a good addition for a player we picked up off waivers.”