ALBANY, NY – Five months passed between games for Darcy Zajac, who helped contribute to the Devils 3-0 win against the Syracuse Crunch Sunday at Times Union Center.
Zajac suffered an upper-body injury during the team’s contest on Oct. 19 at Norfolk, placing him on the shelf for 56 games.
“It’s been a long year for me,” Zajac said after Sunday’s victory. “A lot of practicing and a lot of rehab and it just felt good to compete and be with the team, play together and contribute to a win.
“You would think that maybe I would be a little slower or a little shaky, but I think adrenaline took over. I’ve been busting my butt for the last four or five months. I’ve been skating in the morning extra with Sergei [Brylin]. It just felt good to get out there.”
“Just the style I like to play,” Zajac said of the line. “We were up ice with a lot of pressure, anticipating and finishing checks because you know where your linemates are going. You can just hit those holes. Competing, that’s the part of the game I love.”
The 27-year-old has appeared in five games this season, producing an assist and 12 penalty minutes. In his fourth season, Zajac has amassed 51 points, including 21 goals and 30 assists, in 180 career AHL games.
He is one of the longer tenured Devils on Albany’s roster. The Winnipeg native joined the club during the summer of 2010. Prior to turning pro, he spent four seasons at North Dakota, totaling 54 points (24g-30a) in 166 games. He helped the team to the NCAA Tournament Semi-Finals in 2007 and 2008.
Zajac’s return means something else for the team: depth. As the Devils make a push towards a Calder Cup Playoff berth, Head Coach Rick Kowalsky has more options especially because Mike Sislo‘s the only other right-handed winger.
“We wanted to get him in and I thought he did a good job,” Kowalsky said. “He looked a little more comfortable on the wing. Obviously, Rod Pelley is a pretty easy guy to play with as well. We are going to need numbers and bodies. He’s a right-hand shot, so that’s important.”
The Devils return to action Wednesday with a 7 pm outing against the Binghamton Senators at Times Union Center.