FRASER, Mich. – Seven years ago, Vinnie Pietrangelo suited up for the Metro Jets after being the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2009 Central States Hockey League draft.
Fast forward seven years and Pietrangelo is planning on a few trips to Fraser Hockeyland to take in Jets games – as the newly-hired assistant coach for NCAA Division III SUNY-Canton in Canton, N.Y.
“I saw that Canton was looking for an assistant coach and after doing my research, I quickly found out this was the program I wanted to be at because of the direction it was headed and the support behind it,” said Pietrangelo, a 25-year-old native of Traverse City. “I had a few mutual friends with head coach Alex Boak and we got to know each other before the interview process and hit it off. I then came out for my interview and was offered the job.”
“Vince will bring a huge knowledge base of how to run a successful program as well as recruiting quality players after learning from Bob Daniels this past year,” added Boak. “In the interview process, Vince showed the passion and drive that I was looking for in an assistant coach to help with all aspects of the game and most importantly, recruiting.”
Last season, Pietrangelo served as a volunteer assistant coach with NCAA D-I Ferris State University and said that experience “really helped me for the Canton job.”
“The knowledge I was able to learn under Bob Daniels, Drew Famulak and Mark Kaufman was incredible and very appreciated,” Pietrangelo said. “The responsibility they gave me at the Division I level was very hands on and makes me confident of taking over this role as a full-time assistant with Canton. Winning the WCHA Final Five with Ferris State last year and getting the chance to go to the NCAA tournament is something I will never forget and pretty special to have my first year at the collegiate level.”
Prior to Ferris State, Pietrangelo coached high school hockey at Big Rapids High School alongside Tim Blashill (brother of Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill). He started out as an assistant in 2013-14 and was elevated to associate head coach in 2014-15.
“Being at Big Rapids was huge for my career,” said Pietrangelo. “Coach Blashill really did a good job preparing me to coach as a profession, letting me handle every aspect of running the team. Making the jump from high school to D-I college hockey as a coach is extremely difficult, but Coach Blashill did a very good job of preparing me for my time at Ferris State.”
During the 2009-10 season, Pietrangelo registered a goal and nine points from the Jets’ blue line before playing two seasons of NCAA D-III hockey at Finlandia University. He captained Traverse City West High School in 2008-09.
After a broken collarbone ended his playing career at Finlandia, Pietrangelo transferred to Ferris State to complete his undergraduate degree and coach at Big Rapids.
“My time with Jets was great for my own personal development, both on and off the ice,” Pietrangelo said. “It really helped me be prepared for my opportunity to play at Finlandia. I still keep in touch with my friends Jonathon Elliott and Chris Kienzle to this day, both teammates of mine on the Jets. I still follow the Jets. I track their games every weekend on Pointstreak. One of my friends, Spencer Graham, played there the last two years and I’d like check how he was doing.
“Being from Michigan, I plan to come back a lot and I do see myself watching a few Jets games.”
Pietrangelo started at Canton this week and said he wants “to gain as much knowledge I can and work as hard as I can and have as much success as possible here at Canton.”
In the future, Pietrangelo said being a head coach at the NCAA level (D-I or D-III) is what he is working towards.