Quinnipiac assistant coach Bill Riga has amassed an exorbitant number of frequent flier miles scouring the continent for high end talent, but some of the Bobcats' most recent commitments were found closer to home. Springfield Cathedral goaltender Keith Petruzzelli and his older brother D.J. have committed to play college hockey for Rand Pecknold's program.
The younger Petruzzelli, a hulking freshman goaltender for Brian Foley's Springfield Cathedral team, is the first 1999-born player to commit to an NCAA college. The six-foot-three inch goaltender will split time this season with senior John Liquori, but the future is extremely bright for Petruzzelli.
"Keith really came on the scene the past nine months. Keith was always one of the best goalies at the '99 level, but he has taken his game to another level," said Topher Bevis, his coach with the Boston Jr. Bruins U16 team.
For a young goaltender Petruzzelli has poise and confidence beyond his years that transcends to his teammates, and his physical tools are unmistakable as well.
"He has a calmness about his game that players like to play in front of. When he is on his game, the puck is hitting him in the chest. He's great on angles, and he knows how to use his size. He is a smothering type goalie that doesn't give you much to shoot at," said Bevis, a former defenseman at UMass.
D.J., the older brother, is a junior forward for the Panthers, one of the top teams expected to contend for the Massachusetts Super 8 title this season. He is second on the team in scoring with four goals and seven assists, behind only Holy Cross commit Peter Crinella. D.J., a '97, participated in this past summer's USA Hockey Select 16 Festival.
D.J. is scheduled to arrive at Quinnipiac for the fall of 2016 while Keith will matriculate to the Hamden, Conn. school a year later.
Keith isn't the only Junior Bruins U16 prospect to commit to Quinnipiac recently. Lynnfield, Mass. native Johnny DeRoche is the other member of Bevis' team to receive a scholarship offer from the Bobcats. DeRoche ranks fourth in the USPHL U16 Division in scoring with 18 goals and 22 assists in 19 games played.
The five-foot-six 1998-born DeRoche is a tireless worker who has serious offensive upside.
"Johnny has played on our AAA '98 teams growing up. He's as hard a worker as they come. He never quits on plays, and with his skill set offensively he creates scoring chances all of the time. There is a reason why he has the number of points he does every year. It doesn't just happen, you have to make it happen. And Johnny certainly puts in the work," said Bevis.
Bevis and the entire Junior Bruins organization is extremely proud of the two recent commits.
"We are very proud of both Johnny and Keith. Both are two of the best at their age level. Both Johnny and Keith have been a huge part of our success this year, and we look forward to their continued development before they get to Quinnipiac," said Bevis.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.