By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – David Currie was part of some of the best times in Johnstown Chiefs history.
The goaltender also endured one of the most trying seasons ever.
The latter experience provides Currie motivation for the upcoming ECHL season. Currie and Chiefs all-star forward Jean Desrochers each re-signed with the club on Saturday, only five weeks after the previous season concluded with a figurative thud.
“After the season we had, you definitely want to come back and have a better season this year,” said Currie during a telephone interview from Peterborough, Ontario.
Currie won 19 games as a rookie in 2003-04 as the Chiefs set records with 45 wins and 97 points. He started the season 2-5-0, then finished on a 17-5-3 run while posting a 2.93 goals against average and .905 save percentage.
The past season, Currie and the seventh-place Chiefs both struggled. He was 10-12-7 with a 3.02 GAA and .900 save percentage. The 23-year-old netminder watched the most painful portion of the season as a hand injury sidelined him the final two months.
“The injury adds a little bit to it,” Currie said. “You didn’t get to play the second half. You watched the team struggling. That makes it harder.”
Chiefs coach Toby O’Brien believes Currie and Desrochers are two important pieces as the team tries to rebound from a 22-36-14 season.
“This is definitely the start of our rebuilding,” O’Brien said. “I go back to the 2003-04 season. So many people give guys like Larry Courville, Jay Langager, Arturs Irbe and Jeff Zehr the credit. But David Currie did things that were absolutely amazing.
“To have a kid like that back healthy, 100 percent, with his work ethic, I’m very excited.”
Desrochers had 19 goals and 52 points as a rookie and appeared in the ECHL All-Star Game at Reading’s Sovereign Center in January. He played in all 72 games and ranked third overall among Chiefs point scorers, but was the team leader at season’s end because Shawn Mather was traded and Brian Collins was on an AHL call-up.
“To be able to sign your all-star, who just grew and blossomed, is a big plus,” said O’Brien, who joked about Desrochers waiting until Saturday to complete the deal to avoid inking the contract on Friday the 13th.
“Desrochers led the team in plus-minus (with a plus-3), and that’s an area we really need to concentrate on next year,” O’Brien said. “This is a youth movement we’re going with, and I’m just excited where we’re headed next year. Both are classy individuals who will bring a lot back to the team and the town. This is a real good start.”