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Vannelli picks Gophers

12/02/2012, 9:45pm CST
By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Smooth-skating Minnetonka defenseman chooses Minnesota over Ohio State


Tommy Vannelli

Tommy Vannelli, Minnetonka’s senior defenseman with the silky skating stride and flair for creating offense, has committed to play at the University of Minnesota.

Vannelli, who had attracted the interest of numerous Division I programs after an impressive performance at a national USA Hockey camp this summer, said he had spent the past several weeks deciding between Minnesota and Ohio State.

“I’m really excited,” Vannelli said. “I’ve always kind of dreamed of playing there. I was sitting on two schools for a while.”

The 6-foot-1½, 165-pound Vannelli has a goal and five assists in three games for the 3-0-0 Skippers, who ranked No. 4 in Class 2A in the latest statewide poll.

“The last two games, against Osseo and Hibbing, he’s been pretty dominant with his puck moving skills and ability to break the puck out,” Minnetonka coach Brian Urick said. “He’s been everything I’ve hoped for the last two games.”

Vannelli, who scored seven goals and added 18 assists in 28 games last season, joins former Minnetonka forward Vinni Lettieri and current  Skippers forward Jack Ramsey, a junior, as future Gophers. Justin Holl, another former Minnetonka defenseman, is a junior playing for Minnesota.

Vannelli’s skating style has been compared to that of Holl.

“It looks pretty effortless,” Urick said about Vanelli. “He’s got a really smooth and long stride. He’s really patient. He doesn’t really seem to turn on his jets until he has to. I’d like to see him going a little more at full speed. You don’t see him use it that much because he kind of surveys the play. He slows the game down.”

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