MUSKEGON, MI- Lumberjacks goaltender Keith Petruzzelli had a roller coaster Saturday. His mood changed from anxiety to elation when he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 NHL draft, 88th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
“It was stressful,” said Petruzzelli. “It’s the worst anxiety, and we were all expecting it to happen a little sooner, but I’m so excited to be with Detroit. It’s an incredible franchise that’s a perfect spot for me.”
Detroit wasn’t one of the teams the Petruzzelli had many discussions with, and when they selected him, it came as a bit of a surprise, but Keith identified it as a great fit because of their lack of top goaltending prospects. Furthermore, the franchise has time to allow the development process to happen in due time.
“They have an open timeline,” said Petruzzelli. “They will let me develop at Quinnipiac for a couple years and then we’ll see.”
Petruzzelli pointed to two people when asked about those who keyed his development: Lumberjacks GM and former NHLer John Vanbiesbrouck, and Nick Cocchi, who coached Petruzzelli for six years before he moved on to high school.
“It was awesome to be able to pick Beezer’s brain this year,” Keith said. “Obviously, we have two totally different playing styles, but he knows so much about the game it’s incredible. He was there with me on draft day to congratulate me and give me a hug and that was awesome.”
But Vanbiesbrouck wasn’t the only mentor in attendance. Nick Cocchi, who coached Petruzzelli during Keith’s six-year stint with the New England Jr. Falcons, also made the trip to Chicago to support Keith.
“Coach Cocchi made a huge impact on my career,” said Petruzzelli. “I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for me and it was special to have him there on Saturday.”
Petruzzelli was able to share the moment with both of his parents, Dave and Kathy, and neither were able to hold their emotions in.
“Yeah, both my parents cried,” said Petruzzelli with a chuckle. “My dad was pretty upset that he got caught on national television.”
A 6-foot-5 native of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, Petruzzelli admits it’s been a whirlwind of action over the past couple of weeks, and the lanky, 185-pound goalie won’t have much time to rest in the near future. Red Wings prospect camp starts July 6th, and he was supposed to arrive at his new home, Quinnipiac, on July 8th, but that will have to wait.
The number one thing he’ll have to improve upon to make it to the NHL?
“I have to hit the gym, put muscle mass on and that will help me both with my speed in the crease and fighting guys off in front of me.”