By John Devlin
Special to The State
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Inferno coach Troy Mann signed Jeremy Hall intending to use him as a change of pace up front and in a central role on the penalty-kill unit.
Hall played hard but had little opportunity to shine in the first half of the season. But with call-ups and injuries in the past month, everything has changed for the New Jersey native.
Hall is the team’s leading scorer since the start of February, and has 17 points in Columbia’s past 16 games (eight goals, nine assists). He has four game-winning goals during the span and is tied with Daniel Sparre for the overall team lead with five.
“Coming out of camp, I knew what my role on the team would be and I was fine with that,” Hall said. “I just kept playing my game and waited for an opportunity to show what I could do.
“Goal scoring is all about confidence, and once I got the chance to play regularly and got a couple of goals my confidence started going up. I’ve always been able to use my speed and physical play to create scoring chances and I have a pretty quick release.”
Mann, meanwhile, is pleased with Hall’s emergence as a point producer.
“He showed pretty decent skills with Toledo last year after he came out of college, but I never expected him to be a point-a-game guy like he has been lately,” Mann said.
Hall, a winger for most of his career, has been a revelation at center after Peter Tsimikalis was called to up the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
“He told me he played a little center back in junior, and he’s really been good there where he really uses his speed well up the middle,” Mann said. “And he’s a tough guy, too. He’s played his best hockey since he injured his shoulder.”
Hall had 40 goals in junior hockey in 2002-03, but never scored more than 12 in a season in college, so he is relishing the breakout stretch of his first professional season.
“I’ve always prided myself in being a dependable guy, and I definitely believe in myself,” he said. “But like a lot of things in life, you have to wait for your chance and be ready to take advantage of it when it comes.”