Hockey: Vecchione will return to Union for senior year

Already dealing with the pressures of preparing for second trimester final exams, Union College juni

Already dealing with the pressures of preparing for second trimester final exams, Union College junior center Mike Vecchione wanted to lessen his burden by making a decision about his hockey future.

It’s good news for Dutchmen fans.

After thinking it over, Vecchione decided to return to Union for his senior season.

The 23-year-old Dutchmen co-captain was considered one of the top college free agents that NHL teams were pursuing.

“I just wanted to weigh my options and see what it’s like out there,” Vecchione said Monday about his decision. “In the end, my heart wasn’t fully invested in leaving. I talked to a couple of teams and got what I wanted. Like I said, just in the end, my heart wasn’t with it.

“I want to come back, finish what I started here and, obviously, graduate and get that degree and not have to worry about that, if I had left and had to play with that cloud over my head. Just having a clear mind, finishing what I started and helping get the program back on track [is important].”

Vecchione, a history major, declined to name the teams he spoke with. However, he did consult four former teammates — Mat Bodie, Daniel Carr, Daniel Ciampini and Shayne Gostisbehere.

“The first two or three days were really tough,” Vecchione said. “I was on conference calls for those days. Coach [Rick Bennett] was great. He just sat back and let me hear these teams out and give me some space. I talked to my family. I reached out to a couple of pro guys like ‘Carrsie,’ Bodie, Gostisbehere, Ciampini, guys that I’m close with who are experiencing it at all [pro] levels and all different organizations. I talked to them and got to pick their brains a little bit. I sat down and wrote everything down and weighed the pros and cons of everything.”

After looking at what he wrote down, the decision to return to Union was much easier to make.

“When you write everything on paper, you kind of know who you are and what you’re really feeling,” Vecchione said. “When I looked down and saw what I saw for staying in school, it kind of hit me that my heart’s here at Union for another year. That’s when I made my final decision, just seeing everything the school has to offer and all the opportunities I have next year. That was one of the main reasons I decided to make my decision.”

Naturally, Bennett was pleased when Vecchione told him of his decision.

“Our whole staff is extremely happy,” Bennett said. “You’re keeping a top first-line forward. Most important is Mike’s going to get his degree. Honestly, the whole process was done the right way, and Mike did a tremendous job.”

Vecchione didn’t have a great year offensively. After sharing the team scoring lead with 50 points in his sophomore season, Vecchione had just 29 points in nine goals and 20 assists this year. While it was good enough to lead the team in scoring, Vecchione was disappointed in his production.

“For myself, I felt it wasn’t my best year,” Vecchione said. “It just didn’t happen to bounce my way for a lot of the season. It’s huge for me. I felt like I let the team down. It hurts. I’m going to definitely look at myself in the mirror and correct some wrongs and, over the summer, do what I can to improve and come back and have that bounce-back year that I want. If I do that, I’m going to help the team. It’s going to be a good feeling coming back and doing that.”

Vecchione has 113 career points. He needs 45 points to surpass Carr as the Dutchmen’s all-time Division I leading scorer.

Bennett thinks that can happen.

“He’s done a lot of great things in this program,” Bennett said. “He has a chance to become the all-time best player here at Union College. He’s got a lot of things to look forward to. Personally, I didn’t want to see him pass that stuff up. It’s going to be nice to see him accomplish these goals.”

Categories: College Sports

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