Stepping into Division I hockey as an 18-year-old can be hard for forwards and defensemen. It can be even harder for goalies.
Quinnipiac University's Keith Petruzzelli, chosen by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round (No. 88) of the 2017 NHL Draft, is a case in point.
Petruzzelli arrived at Quinnipiac as a highly touted prospect from Muskegon of the United States Hockey League, but in each of his first two seasons he played behind Andrew Shortridge, who had a .940 save percentage last season before signing with the San Jose Sharks.
Now Petruzzelli is a junior and the net is his.
"I'd have to say it has definitely not been what I expected, but it's been extremely beneficial for me to take this time and mature not only as a hockey player, but as a person," the 20-year-old said this week. "[Shortridge] was a great goalie partner. It's been great for me to mature underneath him a little bit and now come into my own this year."
Petruzzelli (6-foot-5, 185 pounds) was on his game in back-to-back 3-2 victories against American International College last weekend. The second game, when Quinnipiac fell behind by two goals in the opening four-and-a-half minutes, underscored Petruzzelli's growth.
"I like the way that he held the fort," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "Mentally, that was a good challenge for him, to lock it in and keep it close and keep us in the game."
"I was a little sluggish off the start, but we figured it out and it was a good win,'' said Petruzzelli, who made 26 saves.
Petruzzelli left 15 tickets for family and friends for the game, which was played at MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, less than 10 miles from Petruzzelli's hometown of Wilbraham.
The goalie has tweaked his approach this season after taking some advice from his coaches. He said he has a great relationship with Red Wings goalie development coach Brian Mahoney-Wilson, as well as Quinnipiac goalie coach Justin Eddy.
"I'm doing a lot to kind of simplify my game, use my size more and try not to play so athletically because I find I'm just opening up holes and causing myself more problems," Petruzzelli said. "Just kind of quieting my game down. Being solid and being consistent has been my focus so far."
The University of Denver is No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey poll this week, and NHL draft picks who play on the same line are setting the pace.
Freshman right wing Bobby Brink (5-8, 159), chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round (No. 34) of the 2019 NHL Draft, has four points (two goals, two assists) in four games. Sophomore left wing Mathias Emilio Pettersen (5-10, 170), selected by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round (No. 167) of the 2018 NHL Draft, also has four points (one goal, three assists). Sophomore center Cole Guttman (5-9, 167), picked by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round (No. 180) of the 2017 draft, has three points (one goal, two assists).
Denver hosts No. 6 Boston College for two games this weekend.
Hults is hot
After scoring six goals last season, Penn State junior defenseman Cole Hults already has scored four after an opening-weekend sweep of Sacred Heart University.
Selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round (No. 134) of the 2017 draft, Hults had a hat trick Friday, including a power-play goal, and scored a shorthanded goal Saturday. He is tied for the lead among Division I defensemen with five points (four goals, one assist).
Hults (6-0, 189) had 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) as a sophomore and wants to continue being an offensive force.
"I put more of an emphasis on my game to shoot more pucks and be more active on the blue line," he said. "I really wanted to keep doing that."
University of Wisconsin wing Cole Caufield started his freshman season with a bang last weekend, doing what he does best by scoring twice against Boston College and Merrimack.
Chosen by the Montreal Canadiens with the No. 15 pick in the 2019 draft, Caufield (5-7, 162) scored two of his goals on the power play, which is 50 percent (5-of-10) after two games.
He has five points (four goals, one assist) and his goal six seconds into the third period against Merrimack was the second-fastest to start a period in the history of the program.
Senior goalie Tyler Wall helped U-Mass Lowell to a 3-2 upset win at the defending national champion Minnesota Duluth.
Wall made 32 saves, including 15 in the third period. He made 36 the following night when Minnesota Duluth rebounded with a 2-1 victory.
Wall (6-3, 214) was selected by the New York Rangers in the sixth round (No. 174) of the 2016 NHL Draft. He has three wins and a .942 save percentage through four games.
Lead Photo Credit: Rob Rasmussen / Quinnipiac Athletics