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Petruzzelli focused on goals

October 18, 2018 GMT

Anthony Petruzzelli set the bar high : very high : in his first handful of games with the Komets. He netted three goals in four regular-season games as a rookie late last season out of the University of Vermont.

That kind of production not only guaranteed himself a spot on the playoff roster, but it meant that opposing players and fans had to take notice of what he was doing on the ice.

In the playoffs, he showed a different side, though, mucking it up in the corners and agitating opponents : he totaled two assists but no penalty minutes in 14 games : as the Komets reached the seventh game of the Western Conference finals before losing to the eventual Kelly Cup champions, the Colorado Eagles.

“It was definitely a cool first experience,” said Petruzzelli, a 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward. “I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it would be a team competing for a Kelly Cup, but it was cool to be embraced by the guys. They guided me along the way and I was glad to be a part of the team.”

The Komets’ roster is packed with youth this season, but not all the youngsters came to Memorial Coliseum with the benefit of having played some professional games. Petruzzelli may have a leg up because of his experience last season.

“I think I definitely learned a lot in my short time there,” Petruzzelli said. “The guys taught me a lot about how to read the time and space at the professional level. They taught me how to take things at this level offensively and how to slow things down and ... get the pucks to the net and create space for myself.”

It’s a little tough to know which Petruzzelli we’ll get this season. Will he be the scorer from the four regular-season games? Or will he be the defensive-minded grinder from the playoffs?

He hopes he’ll be both.

“My role over the last few years has been as the shut-down penalty kill guy and that will be a major part of my game. But at the end of the day, you want to do that (and score),” said Petruzzelli, 25.

“It picks up a notch (in the pros) and guys get that much more hungry and I want to do that now.”

Petruzzelli was an accomplished scorer in juniors for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits, totaling an impressive 94 goals and 193 points in 216 games from 2011 to 2014. In 2013, Brooks was the national champion of Canadian Junior A hockey.

Petruzzelli was inducted into the Bandits’ Hall of Fame last month.

At Vermont, he accrued 21 goals and 43 points in 140 games from 2014 to 2018. He made the Hockey East All-Academic team in 2016.

With the Catamounts, he was known for speed and grit, and he wants that to show in his first full season with the Komets (1-1-0), who defeated the Indy Fuel 3-2 on Friday and lost Saturday to the Cincinnati Cyclones, 5-2.

“I’m one of the down-low, hard-working guys,” said Petruzzelli, who is from Federal Way, Washington. “I’ve done that in the past, and contributed offensively. I’m not changing my game, but I’d like to advance it (and score more). I want to be that hard-working guy; I’ve always been that hard-working guy, skating 100 mph. It’s going to be a major part of my game and that’s where I thrive the most. But if I can score a few more goals, that would be great.”

The Komets play Friday at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and then have their home opener at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum against the Kalamazoo Wings (0-1-0), who lost 8-4 to the Fuel over the weekend.

Petruzzelli will have to adjust to smaller rosters and a longer schedule in the ECHL, but he said he’s prepared.

“I’m excited,” he said. “It felt like a long offseason, but there was a lot of training for it.”

jcohn@jg.net