Hat Tricks playoff hero Michael Marchesan lands job in ECHL

by Jim Cerny, Hat Tricks Insider

When Michael Marchesan was preparing for training camp with the Atlanta Gladiators this past offseason, the Danbury Hat Tricks playoff hero turned to Billy McCreary for advice.

Not surprisingly, the Hat Tricks coach and general manager delivered a simple yet powerful message which resonated with the 23-year-old looking to make the jump from the FPHL to the ECHL.

“Billy said, ‘Honestly ‘Marchy’ all you can do is bring that ‘Danbury Dog’ mentality and don’t take anything from anyone,” Marchesan recalled this week. “Just be a dog out there and want it more than everyone. And that’s exactly what I did.”

Marchesan not only earned a spot on the Gladiators roster, the 6-foot-5 forward was in the opening night lineup. That’s a big deal to go from one season in the FPHL to playing for the Nashville Predators’ ECHL affiliate.

“I told him just go out there and play Danbury hockey,” McCreary said. “You’re going to have to be the hardest working guy out there. You’re going to have to be willing to do anything and everything. And be prepared for someone to say, ‘But he played in the Federal League last season.’

“Credit to Marchy, he’s a trailblazer and we’re really excited to see what he’ll do there this season.”

Marchesan turned pro last season but lasted just three games with his first team, the Binghamton Black Bears. Whatever the reason, the Ontario native was cut loose and signed quickly with the Hat Tricks.

That’s when the bond began to form between Marchesan and McCreary.

“Billy is one of the best coaches I ever had. He made me think the game differently, instead of just letting the game come to me,” Marchesan explained. “I should take it by the balls and then control it, dictate it. If you can control the game, then you’re in a good spot in the driver’s seat.”

Marchesan earned his coach’s trust in Danbury and his game took off. He finished the regular season with 34 goals and 58 points in 49 games, second on the Hat Tricks behind captain Jonny Ruiz in each category. His goal total was eighth-most in the FPHL.

With Marchesan playing a big role, the Hat Tricks blitzed through the 2022-23 regular season, finishing first overall (44-7-5, 129 points).

Then came the postseason.

Marchesan led the Hat Tricks and finished tied for second in the League with 13 points in 10 games. He had eight goals, tied with teammate Jacob Ratcliffe for most in the playoffs.

And when it mattered most, Marchesan scored twice, including the overtime winner, in Game 5 of the Final against the Carolina Thunderbirds that handed Danbury its first Commissioner’s Cup championship. He was named FPHL playoff MVP.

“I can tell you, and Marchy will probably tell you, when he got here no one would have predicted he’d be playoff MVP and have the moments he did,” McCreary said. “He just buys in to showing up, doing the work and being a great pro.”

Which explains how he ended up in the ECHL this season, just two -- albeit huge -- steps from the NHL.

“I think it’s amazing and so cool he’s up there with drafted players, representing an NHL organization, an accomplishment kids dream about growing up,” Hat Tricks alternate captain Kyle Gonzalez said. “It’s a tribute to Marchy and all his hard work. We’re all rooting for him here.”

Marchesan has played three of Atlanta’s four games. He had an assist in the second game of the season and just missed scoring on a breakaway the next game.

“Biggest thing you struggle with moving up two leagues is the confidence,” Marchesan admitted. “I know I can score but it’s still building the confidence to make plays and do what I know I can do.”

At least Marchesan is not alone. He’s got all his “brothers,” as Marchesan calls his former teammates, pulling for him back in Danbury.

“I’m so damn proud,” Ruiz said. “It’s hard to explain. Just real excited for him to have this opportunity and see him run with it.”

Marchesan is still waiting to receive his championship ring from the Hat Tricks. He would’ve had it by now but didn’t have a proper mailing address in Atlanta. It should arrive soon, though. And he plans to put it on immediately and “walk in on gameday wearing it.”

“It’s so big I heard! I’m glad they went full-out on it.”

Full-out. Just like how Michael Marchesan approached this opportunity and earned a spot in the ECHL after a memorable season with the Hat Tricks.

Photos: Chris Rutsch