By Tim Campbell
Winnipeg Free Press
CLEVELAND – The get-well cards will surely keep going to 2003 ECHL Rookie of the Year and two-time ECHL All-Star Game starter Jason Jaffray‘s house but the signatures will be a little more steady after the latest episode of the Manitoba Moose’s late-season surge.
The team’s leading goal scorer is out a few more weeks with a shoulder injury but his understudy brought his teammates to their feet Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Rookie pro Mark Derlago, called up from Bakersfield, Calif., (ECHL) pumped in his first two AHL goals in the second period to help spark the Moose to a 7-2 thrashing of the Lake Erie Monsters.
Derlago was thrust into a leading role upon his arrival last week. The 22-year-old Brandon native went straight to the team’s No. 1 offensive line with Brad Moran and Jannik Hansen and had assists in his first two games. He then figured prominently on Tuesday with goals at 59 seconds and 11:56 of the second period as the visitors pumped in seven straight to set a franchise record with their seventh straight road win.
“He’s a lot like Jaff,” Moose coach Scott Arniel said of Derlago after the Moose ripped off their ninth straight win. “He’s not experienced like Jaff and he’s got some things to learn being at this level but he goes to those (get-dirty) areas.
“… He’s not going to score goals from 50 feet out. He’ll be five or 10 feet away. He had a couple of real good deflections tonight, too. He’s got a real good stick and a good pair of hands.”