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Decatur grad Petruzzelli heads to Alberta Junior Hockey League
Anthony Petruzzelli started playing hockey a couple years after he started walking.
“I think I was 3 years old,” said the recent Decatur High School graduate. “My dad had been around hockey his whole life, playing pond hockey in Wisconsin and around that area. I just loved it ever since. A lot of people think it’s kind of weird, but most find it interesting.”
That’s just what happens when you play the sport of hockey in the un-hockey hotbed of Western Washington. But the 18-year-old is racking up quite a hockey resume.
Petruzzelli did play the “standard” sports like baseball and soccer when he was younger. But he had more fun playing hockey and it was obvious that he excelled at the non-traditional sport in the Puget Sound area.
Petruzzelli’s hockey career will continue later this year in the prestigious Alberta Junior Hockey League for the Brooks Bandits. The league, in the hockey-rich Canadian province, is the breeding ground for players with Division-I college aspirations and also a hotbed for National Hockey League scouts. Three Alberta Junior Hockey League players were selected in the recent NHL Draft.
“It’s a very high level of hockey,” Petruzzelli said. “Most of the players get Division-I scholarships, which I definitely want to do.”
Petruzzelli is a 5-foot-10, 175-pound natural playmaker and goal-scoring forward and takes pride in playing both ends of the ice utilizing his skating speed.
The Alberta Junior League is considered to be a Tier II organization in amateur hockey. To compare, the local Seattle Thunderbirds play in the Tier I Western Hockey League, one step below the NHL.
Petruzzelli’s foray into the Canadian hockey system comes after a stellar season with the Helena (Mont.) Bighorns during the 2010-11 season. Petruzzelli helped the Bighorns win the 2011 USA Hockey Tier III National Championship, along with the Cascade Cup and Northern Pacific Hockey League titles. In total, Helena finished with a eye-popping 70-3 overall record.
During his stay in Helena, Petruzzelli was named the Rookie of the Year in the America West Division for the Bighorns. He finished the season with 46 goals and 55 assists for 101 points.
He was third in the league in scoring behind teammates Cody Hess (114 points) and Ryan Parkhouse (104). He posted 30 multiple-point games in the 48 games he played for the Bighorns.
His linemates, Hess and Parkhouse, consider him the fastest of the trio and also rate his shot as the best.
“I’ve been told by a few different teams that I was too slow,” he said. “Coming here, it helped develop my speed. I did a lot of training in the offseason, trying to make different teams — a lot of time in the garage, shooting about 100 shots or so.”
Petruzzelli started playing the sport of hockey in a learn-to-play program in Tacoma at the Sprinker Recreation Center as a 3-year-old until the Kent Ice Centre opened in 1999. Petruzzelli spent eight years playing out of Kent, before heading to Seattle two years ago to play for the Seattle Junior Northwest Admirals.
The Brooks Bandits will start their training camp in mid-August, but Petruzzelli will be heading up to Canada on July 1 for a mid-summer, preseason camp. The Bandits’ season kicks off Aug. 26 against the Calgary Canucks.
Brooks finished second in the South Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League standings during the 2010-11 season before losing in the second round of the playoffs.