Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pietrangelo getting creative for Metro

The adjustment from high school hockey to the Central States Hockey League is a major jump, and while Vinnie Pietrangelo struggled with that transition earlier this season, he’s now fitting in as a major player on the blueline for the Metro Jets.

Drafted last May out of Traverse City West High School where he was a co-captain his senior year, Pietrangelo was a player the Metro coaching staff knew they had to have after seeing him play in bunches last year.

“We saw him at a few North American Hockey League camps and a few exposure camps and we really liked what he was doing,” Jets coach Ryan Skop said. “We knew we were looking for 6-7 defensemen and Petey was right at the top of our list from day 1.”

Once Pietrangelo arrived in Waterford, it was obvious what the rangy defenseman had in his arsenal and what he’s improved on in the past two months and change.

“First and foremost, when we're talking about Petey, we're talking about a kid who’s anxious to learn,” Skop said. “He's got a great attitude. He wants to soak up any information that's available to him. The kid’s a real student of the game.

“Coming into camp and even as the season started, I was a bit concerned with Petey and the physical side of the game. He's not very big (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) and wasn't overly physical, but once the season started, it really wasn't that big of a concern anymore. He kind of proved me wrong and doesn't mind getting his nose dirty once in a while. He's been paired with Cords (Jets captain Mike Corder) most of the year, so having a guy like that next to you probably doesn’t hurt either.”

Anthony Palumbo, currently the head coach and general manager of the NAHL’s Traverse City North Stars, a team that had Pietrangelo in their summer camp, knows firsthand what the Traverse City native is capable of doing on the ice.

“Vinnie has a great passion for the game and it shows in how hard he plays the game,” Palumbo said. “I had the honor of coaching Vinnie at the minor hockey and high school level and will always remember him as an unselfish player that was more about the team than himself.”

Skop agrees.

“I think the best part of Petey's game on the ice is his offensive talent from the back end,” said Skop. “He's got good wheels and good paws and he really likes to get up in the play a lot. He's someone our opponents have to account for because he's always looking to create.”

And if the creativity continues, it’ll only be a matter of time before Pietrangelo, who turns 19 the day after Christmas, gets the chance to move up the hockey ladder.

“With Petey, he's learning day-by-day and game-by-game how to be a little more responsible with his decisions when and when not to be offensive,” noted Skop. “Last year with TC, he could pretty much get away with anything he wanted to, and he's learning that as you go up the food chain here, it just doesn't work like that. That's really been the biggest thing we've had to work with him on. He's starting to understand when to go and when not.

“I think as he progresses here, and gains more confidence in his decisions, he'll be a guy that teams at the next level should be taking a look at.”


Metro played just one game last weekend, but it was a record-setting affair.

Last Sunday at Lakeland Arena, the Jets and Motor City Chiefs went to a CSHL-record 17-round shootout before losing, 5-4. A spokesman from USA Hockey could not confirm if this was a U.S. junior hockey milestone, as the organization does not keep records regarding shootouts.

In regulation, Josh Magnan scored two power-play goals and now has 16 goals on the season. Brett Grech added a power-play goal and Joe Rutkowski also tallied with the latter’s being his first of the season and also shorthanded.

Ian Mercer started in goal and allowed one goal on three shots before R.J. Heath took over at the 10:21 mark of the first period and stopped 28 shots the rest of the way.

In the shootout, Todd Knaus, Magnan, Mike Denston and Corder scored, but the Chiefs kept pace. In the 17th round, Robert Speer beat Heath and then Motor City goalie Dan Wenner stopped Pietrangelo to end the drama.

Metro plays on the road this weekend with two games at Queen City Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The Jets then stay on the road with a single game in Flint next Wednesday.

Next home action for the Jets is Dec. 12-13 against Cleveland.


Rookie forward Shane Wheatley was released this week. Wheatley had one assist and 30 penalty minutes in 11 games this season.


Former Jets forward Ian Cosgrove (2006-2007) scored his first collegiate goal for SUNY-Fredonia on Nov. 14 against SUNY-Brockport.

Cosgrove, a 20-year-old Rochester native, recorded three goals and eight points in 13 games for the Jets three seasons ago. He went on to play two years with the Soo (Ont.) Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Photo by Andy Grossman

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