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Tonka's Lettieri headed to U of M

By Loren Nelson, Editor, 09/21/11, 3:46PM CDT


Skippers junior forward will join cousin Lou Nanne of Edina at Minnesota

Vinni Lettieri, far right, scored 40 points in 27 games last season as a Minnetonka sophmore. Photo by Helen Nelson

Minnetonka’s Vinni Lettieri liked the academics, liked the coaches, liked the program.

Most of all he liked being close to home.

Lettieri’s commitment on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to play hockey at the University of Minnesota also comes with the opportunity to play alongside his cousin, Edina’s Lou Nanne.

Lettieri said there is a lot to like about that, too.

Vinni Lettieri

“It is really a bonus after the fact that I committed there,” said Lettieri, a junior forward who scored 17 goals and added 23 assists in 27 games last season for the Skippers, about joining Nanne as a recent University of Minnesota commit. “We see each other a ton, actually. Our families are really close.”

Nanne, also a junior, gave his verbal committment to the Minnesota exactly one week before Lettieri. They are grandsons of Lou Nanne, a former Gophers player who went on to play, coach and serve as general manager for the Minnesota North Stars.

Lettieri’s father, Tino, is a former professional goalkeeper who played 11 seasons of professional soccer, including a four-year stint with the Minnesota Kicks of the North American Soccer League.

“Vinni paved his own road,” Tino Lettieri said. “He wants to play the game of hockey at the highest level. His cousin being there is a nice bonus. I’m sure for his grandpa (Lou Nanne) it is a big bonus. He can finally go to one rink and sit down and cheer for just one team.”

The 5-foot-8½, 165-pound Lettieri and 5-10, 165-pound Nanne are on opposite ends of the fierce Lake Conference rivalry between Minnetonka and Edina.

As a change of pace, they have spent the past several weeks playing together on Team Southwest in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League. They were briefly paired on the same line but have spent most of the fall playing on different forward units.

“His style play is a bit more of a grinding style than mine,” the offensively geared Lettieri said. “He has a little bigger body.”

Lettieri said he had narrowed interest from more than a dozen schools, most notably Harvard, North Dakota, Ohio State and Minnesota. The final decision came down to North Dakota and Minnesota.

“I’m definitely relieved to have this done,” Lettieri said. “It has been weighing on me for a while. Now I don’t have to worry about it any more. I can concentrate on winning a state championship.”

Minnetonka, which has seven players in the Elite League, undoubtedly will be ranked among the top five Class 2A teams in the state to start the season.

Minnetonka's Vinni Littieri (19) skates for the puck beside Blaine's Tyler Cline (26) during the Scwan Cup Gold Division at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo by Helen Nelson

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2011-12 Minnesota High School Division I Recruits

Name High School Year Pos. College Verbal Commit
Spencer Bell Maple Grove Senior F Wisconsin Yes
Grant Besse Benilde-St. Margaret's Junior F Wisconsin Yes
Jake Bischoff Grand Rapids Junior D Minnesota Yes
Michael Brodzinski Blaine Junior D Minnesota Yes
Andrew Commers St. Thomas Academy Senior F RPI Yes
Jordan Gross Maple Grove Junior D Notre Dame Yes
Jake Guentzel Hill-Murray Junior F Nebraska-Omaha Yes
Blake Heinrich Hill-Murray Junior D Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Christian Horn Benilde-St. Margaret's Senior F Minnesota Yes
Adam Johnson Hibbing Junior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Justin Kloos Lakeville South Senior F Minnesota Yes
Dan Labosky Benilde-St. Margaret's Junior F Colorado College Yes
Vinni Lettieri Minnetonka Junior F Minnesota Yes
Eli May Eagan Senior D Minnesota State Yes
Will Merchant Eagan Senior F Maine Yes
Lou Nanne Edina Junior F Minnesota Yes
Grant Opperman Breck Senior F Dartmouth Yes
Judd Peterson Duluth Marshall Senior F St. Cloud State Yes
Matt Pohlkamp Brainerd Senior F Bowling Green Yes
Jake Randolph Duluth East Senior F Nebraska-Omaha Yes
Charlie Sampair Hill-Murray Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Joe Schuldt Minnetonka Senior D Michigan Tech Yes
Eric Schurhamer St. Thomas Academy Senior D Maine Yes
Dylan Steman Maple Grove Senior F Michigan Tech Yes
Jared Thomas Hermantown Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Dom Toninato Duluth East Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Hunter Warner Eden Prairie Sophomore D Minnesota State Yes
Sam Wolfe Eagan Senior D Maine Yes
Michael Zajac Eagan Senior F Princeton Yes