Sports

HOCKEY: Decatur grad, Petruzzelli, will play at the University of Vermont

Decatur High School grad Anthony Petruzzelli will play hockey at the University of Vermont starting in the fall of 2014. Petruzzelli is currently playing for the Brooks Bandits in Alberta.  - Courtesy photo
Decatur High School grad Anthony Petruzzelli will play hockey at the University of Vermont starting in the fall of 2014. Petruzzelli is currently playing for the Brooks Bandits in Alberta.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

In most college sports, the University of Vermont isn't considered a powerhouse.

But hockey is a different story. The Catamounts have put together one of the top programs in the nation and Anthony Petruzzelli will be on the ice in Vermont in the fall of 2014.

The 2012 Decatur High School graduate gave the Catamounts a verbal commitment earlier this month, according to his father, John Petruzzelli.

Anthony Petruzzelli is currently playing hockey for the Brooks Bandits in the prestigious Alberta Junior Hockey League in Canada. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder leads the Bandits in goals scored with 15 and is second in total points with 26. Brooks is leading the South Division of the AJHL with an 18-0-0 record. This is his second season in Alberta.

Petruzzelli was named the Rookie of the Year in the AJHL during the 2011-12  season after collecting 23 goals and 47 points in 59 games for Brooks. He scored four game-winning goals and was second in the league in power play goals with 14.

“Anthony is a very versatile player that brings high energy for us every night," said Brooks head coach Ryan Papaioannou. "His work ethic and ability to learn have set him apart from other players. He is a great kid and most deserving of this scholarship. We are excited to be able to work with him for another season before he leaves for Vermont.”

The Alberta Junior Hockey 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.

Prior to joining the Bandits, Petruzzelli had a stellar season with the Helena (Mont.) Bighorns from 2010-11. He 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 that season.

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.

"We were fortunate that he came from a great program in Helena and was detail oriented when he arrived in Brooks," Papaioannou said.

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 University of Vermont is located in Burlington and the Catamounts play in the Division I Hockey East Conference. Vermont has appeared in the NCAA Men's Hockey Championships five time, including trips to the Frozen Four in 1996 and 2009.

The Hockey East includes powerhouses like Boston College, Boston University, Maine, New Hampshire, Northeastern and Providence, among others.

Vermont has produced 14 National Hockey League players in its history, including current stars Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins).

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