After his first semester, freshman Jerry D’Amigo received a present: the opportunity to play for the United States of America in the World Junior Hockey Championship. D’Amigo represented not only his country but also RPI, exposure the men’s hockey team has not seen since 2001 when Marc Cavosie played for the United States while a member of the RPI Squad; Mathias Lange represented Austria before becoming an Engineer. “It is great to represent your team and let other people know that there are good programs besides the big name teams who can produce good players,” said D’Amigo.
While D’Amigo has soared to the top ranks of the Engineers, he was not expecting to standout as he did in the tournament. “In the beginning I was just kind of supposed to be a reliable guy on the team; play a game to game, when it came down to it, I played my best and the bump came my way and I had great linemates.”
D’Amigo exited the championship tied for first with Chris Kreider of Boston College at six goals, second for points at 12 (fourth overall), and first in shots on goal percentage at 26.09 for the U.S. team.
He scored the game-winning goal against Finland during the semifinal early in the first and then an empty netter to increase the U.S. lead in the last minute of the game. The forward powered in a short-handed goal off a feed from Captain Derek Stepan of the University of Wisconsin late in the third against Sweden in the quarterfinals, after scoring the game-tying goal during the second.
D’Amigo was named the player of the game twice over the event, once in the opening game vs. Slovakia and then in the quarterfinal against Sweden, and named one of the top three players on Team USA by the coaches.
The final brought more recognition and excitement for D’Amigo, who said, “Being in the game and pulling off a win [was] an amazing feeling I will carry with me for a long time.” He knew he was on Canadian soil, describing “the championship game, basically 15,000 fans cheering against you … every time they scored you could not hear anything.”
In the final, D’Amigo scored a goal and an assist with linemate Stepan to bring the U.S. a two-goal lead early in the third, before Canada knotted it at five.
His efforts paid off in the final; he was named one of the most valuable players on the U.S. squad. “It was good; I didn’t expect any of that … good to be up on top again, acknowledged for what I did.”
After missing three games, he joined back up with the Engineers to fight the Princeton Tigers. While there was a difference, it was nothing major. “Definitely the play is different; I kind of just got back in the flow of things, came back and played the Princeton game … [It was more] fun [without] all the pressure of the gold medal and all those fans.”
Next year holds the possibility for D’Amigo to help the United States defend their title, as he will just make the age limit. “Definitely, I am not saying I am going to make the team, but if I make it again, on our soil this time, hopefully I will make it and have another fun experience like I did this year.”