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By the Numbers Prospects: Keith Petruzzelli

Lanky netminder endured tough transition to the college game

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2017-18 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on their statistical highs. This week we focus on goaltender Keith Petruzzelli.

When Keith Petruzzelli met the media after being drafted by Detroit in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, he told the press corps he was overjoyed at being selected by the Red Wings and he was looking forward to beginning his collegiate career at Quinnipiac in the fall.

Petruzzelli was majoring in civil engineering and a few reporters joked that he should inquire about a possible internship during the construction of the Gordie Howe Bridge - it seemed like a natural fit.

Despite his affable nature, the 6-foot-6, 190-pound goalie was all business when it came to hockey and school.

He spent the 2016-17 season in the USHL playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, posting an impressive 22-10-1 record with a 2.40 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts.

For his efforts, Petruzzelli was named to the USHL's All-Rookie Team.

As a true freshman at Quinnipiac, he faced tough competition from sophomore goalie Andrew Shortridge for playing time and a rigorous academic schedule.

It was a difficult adjustment to college life on and off the ice for Petruzzelli. Shortridge grabbed a foothold on the starting job and school was just plain old tough.

But as the year progressed, Petruzzelli's study habits improved and an injury to Shortridge allowed him to regain his confidence. By the end of the season, he established himself as a legitimate contender to be the Bobcats' starting goalie for the 2018-19 campaign.

Petruzzelli is a talented but raw goaltender. Red Wings officials are encouraged by the way he bounced back from a disastrous beginning to his Quinnipiac career. If he continues to progress, he will be in the mix to someday be Detroit's backstop.

17 - Number of games he played during his freshman season.

14 - Total number of games Petruzzelli started out of Quinnipiac's 38-game schedule.

5 - Petruzzelli's win total last season. Shortridge notched 11 wins.

6 - In an erratic season, Petruzzelli lost six times.

2.88 - His goals-against average.

.892 - Petruzzelli's save percentage.

0 - He didn't get a shutout as a freshman, but Petruzzelli gave up two or fewer goals in four of his last five starts.

88 - Detroit selected Petruzzelli in the third round, 88th overall, in the 2017 Draft. The Wings had four third-round picks in 2017. They also selected defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo, 71st overall, right wing Lane Zablocki, 79th overall and center Zach Gallant, 83rd overall.

Quotable: "Keith came in with a high expectation and a lot of hype, so to speak, being a third-round pick by Detroit with a lot of excitement, but I think lost in that was the fact he was 18 years old and a true freshman, which is rare for college hockey at times, especially for goaltenders. So, there was a big adjustment period in terms of how hard the shots are, the pace of the game, just how grueling it is physically at the college level on a daily basis. It took a lot of adjusting and hard work on his part. No question he struggled early on with that, so there had to be a reassessment of where he was with our goalie coach Jared Waimon and our staff.

"From that point on, he made steady progress and he was putting time in until the end of the year where our other goaltender went down with an injury and he took over for the playoffs and did a real good job in our sweep of Yale, and we hung in there in the second round with Cornell and a lot of that was because of him. There was just a big maturity jump for him to realize what it takes to be successful at this level and as he gets into camp with Detroit, he'll see it's different at the pro level. The next step for him is to physically and mentally be a year older and more mature and handle adversity a little bit better, and all the work he's going to put in will pay off in his skill level. For him, it's about being a true college goaltender this year and winning the No. 1 job on our squad. Keith has a lot of potential and that's why he was brought in - to eventually have that job." - Bill Riga, Quinnipiac associate head coach.

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