By @StefanKubus –
Keith Petruzzelli has basically made Michigan his second home over this past year.
A native of Wilbraham, Mass., Petruzzelli tended goal for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2016-17 before being selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
After participating in the Wings’ development camp in Traverse City, Petruzzelli now finds himself in Plymouth for the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase wearing the red, white and blue of Team USA.
“It’s always a huge honor to be able to wear the stars and stripes, just honored to be here and looking to show what I can do,” Petruzzelli said.
What does he want to show the coaches in this camp?
“Just that I can control games and make big stops for the team, make saves I need to make,” Petruzzelli said.
The 18-year-old netminder had a tough outing against Sweden in the showcase opener that saw him allow three goals on 21 shots in the latter half of a 4-3 loss, which included the game-winning goal with nine seconds remaining on the clock.
But Petruzzelli made the saves he needed to make and then some in a bounce-back performance the next day against Finland, a 4-1 victory in which he played the entire game. He stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced, and the only goal he allowed deflected off his defenseman’s stick.
“It definitely helps, you’re able to find a rhythm early on and stick with it,” Petruzzelli said of playing the entire game. “It’s tough coming into a game mid-game, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
“I felt much better out there tonight than I did the last night.”
Petruzzelli said he hopes the group can build on that going forward into Tuesday’s game against the Canada Red squad – the final matchup before cuts are made and play resumes on Wednesday.
“The boys played a great game in front of me, made my job a lot easier tonight,” Petruzzelli said. “I thought we looked really good, continued to build. Not our best game last night, but we came back strong today.”
Returning home to Michigan
Petruzzelli has been training at his soon-to-be-home of Quinnipiac University – he’s set to be a freshman there this fall – during the past few weeks, but he’s back in Michigan once again.
After a 2016-17 USHL campaign that saw him post a .918 save percentage and 22-10-1 record, Petruzzelli didn’t have to travel far for his next venture after being drafted by Detroit in late June. At Red Wings development camp in Traverse City, the budding netminder said it was great to be back in the Mitten and how his time in Muskegon helped prepare him for taking the next step in his hockey career.
“It’s awesome, a lot of great support from the people out in Michigan, the Muskegon community and my billets and just the people associated with the Lumberjacks,” Petruzzelli said. “It’s awesome how much support I’ve been given and I’m really looking forward to being back out in Michigan.
“It’s a great place, great organization, it was awesome to be able to pick John Vanbiesbrouck’s brain a little bit. He has so much knowledge about the game. Great billets, we had a really good group of guys last year, too.”
Petruzzelli knows a job with the Red Wings is still far off in the distance, but it’s something he certainly has his eye on.
“It’s awesome, it’s incredible, such a storied franchise,” he said of being drafted by the Wings. “I can’t wait to get started with them.
“It’s a great goal and a lot of work to do in the meantime, but really looking forward to it.”