As he stepped out of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum last Friday night to a roaring crowd, Daniel Ciampini was continuing a hot streak that saw him tally 14 goals and 38 points in just 48 ECHL games this season.
He also knew he’d be preparing for the playoffs for a different team – a callup to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs was looming as soon as the Fuel’s season ended.
Ciampini and defenseman Sam Jardine were called up to Rockford on Sunday, where they are playing with the IceHogs in the season’s final week and preparing for the American Hockey League Playoffs, which begin next week. There, they joined Nick Mattson and goaltender Mac Carruth, who played much of the season for the Fuel before getting callups to Rockford late in the regular season. Chris DeSousa, who was intended to play much of the year for the Fuel, stuck in Rockford after playing opening weekend in Indy.
Ciampini especially heated up late in the season, when he had four goals and eight assists in his last seven games, including five multi-point games. A skilled playmaker, he was also a strong finisher on a line with Alex Lavoie and Peter Schneider for the final part of the year.
His ECHL experience has been about gaining confidence and ice time, where he skated on the Fuel’s top scoring line. But he’s looking forward to whatever his role is in the postseason in Rockford.
“Down here, it’s been a matter of being confident,” Ciampini said. “I don’t know if I’ll be getting into games up there, but I’ve been in the playoffs before. I played four years in college, I know what the atmosphere is like, I’m going to go in there with a positive attitude. Whatever happens, happens. If I play, that’s great, and if not, I need to be positive for the guys and be a support for the guys. Hopefully, we can make a run and we can head in there with some steam.”
Ciampini is no stranger to postseason success. He was the leading goal scorer for Union College’s NCAA championship team in 2014, his junior year. He had 23 goals and 41 points that year, then followed with 26 goals and 50 points last season, leading the Dutchmen in scoring.
After a brief stint in the AHL with Worcester, he signed a deal with Rockford in the offseason. Ciampini’s regular season has also included 10 games in several stints in the AHL, with a goal.
His playoff experience brings back memories, especially the memorable four-game run through the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Frozen Four last weekend brought back some memories of Union beating Minnesota – Ben Marshall’s team 7-4 – to win that title. “He doesn’t really like when I bring it up,” Ciampini said of Marshall. “I know it’s tough – they were a good team that year. It was a good game.”
“It was pretty crazy watching (the semifinals) on the couch,” Ciampini said. “Last year, we fell short, but hearing the music and the intros and listening to the two voices was memorable. I’ve watched the replay of our game about 100 times.”
He’ll look forward to making more memories in Rockford with some familiar faces this spring.