By @MichaelCaples –
PLYMOUTH – Vanya Lodnia has spent the majority of his days in Erie, Pa., the last few seasons.
Every once in a while, however, he gets to skate close to home.
This week, he’s just a few miles away from his hometown of Novi, as Lodnia competes for Team USA in the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.
“Yeah it feels great,” Lodnia told MiHockey about coming back home. “Always when you get to come back to this arena, it means a lot. A lot of years I played here, and for the Five Nations (tournament) I got to play here, too, so it means a lot.”
The Belle Tire and Honeybaked alum – who was born in California and moved to Michigan as a youth hockey player – has appreciated his opportunity to take part in the camp, part of the selection process for the U.S. World Junior team.
“Only 42 players are here, so to be here, one of those guys, it means a lot,” Lodnia said. “Last year, the year that we had, it was a fun year, so to have this great of a summer, too, it means a lot.”
‘It was a fun year’ certainly undersells Lodnia’s 2016-17 campaign. The Otters won the OHL championship and fell one game short of a Memorial Cup title, while Lodnia posted 57 points in 66 games.
“You get to have a lot of playoff experience with those guys,” Lodnia said. “My first year, we played all the way to the conference finals, and then this last year, we just lost in the Memorial Cup, so that long of a season, it gets you ready for that kind of thing. So for this summer, not really training a lot, just kind of taking it slow, but it feels good to get back into game situations.”
His impressive sophomore season in the OHL led to Lodnia being selected by the Minnesota Wild in the third round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
“It means a lot, especially for what my family has done for me, my whole life,” he said. “To finally hear my named called by Minnesota, it means a lot.”
He’s excited for the opportunity to play in the State of Hockey one day.
“They’re a really good team, they have a lot of star players there,” Lodnia said. “They give everybody a chance. They like skill and they like speed, so hopefully one day I can play for them.”