Greater Latrobe Hockey Nets a Healthy Tender

Being a small town in Western Pennsylvania, some people wouldn’t expect a lot of talented ice hockey players. The Greater Latrobe hockey program is a perennial success. In 39 seasons the team is 4 time AA State Champions, and 4 time AA Penguins Cup Champions. The team last year was heading towards another very successful season before the March 13 shutdown. That team had 10 seniors, and goalie, Vincent Amatucci, was the only sophomore on the team. 

Vincent has been playing hockey for most of his life. Starting with dek hockey at the age of 5, to eventually moving his way onto the ice rink as he got older. When he started playing 8U mite league hockey, he found his calling at the goalie position. At the tryout he was told by a coach, “Alright you’re the biggest kid, you take up the most net, you’re gonna play goalie.” From that point on he has loved the position for nine years. 

Mostly all athletes have some story behind their preferred number. Whether it’s their lucky number, a number from their favorite player, picked from just a selection of a few numbers available, or even a sibling, or parent’s former number. Vincent had picked the number 66 at a young age, because it was double of his number before. He had always received compliments from coaches and parents for the number growing up and he had wondered why. He was too young at the time to realize that the main reason for this was because Penguins owner, hall of famer, and former player Mario Lemieux wore the number 66 during his playing career. Currently with the varsity team, he wears the number 30

Like other hockey fans and players, Vincent fell in love with the game by watching some amazing players growing up. When asked his inspiration for hockey immediately, he said it was Marc Andre Fleury. He stated, “I love Fleury, he was a big inspiration for me for a very long time.” As a Penguins fan, former first overall pick and three time Stanley Cup champion goalie, Marc Andre Fleury, was Vincent’s biggest hockey inspiration, Fleury’s play style and his success in his time in Pittsburgh helped make him love hockey.

Goalie, Matt Murray was another player who Vincent looked up to later on. He said that he related to Matt Murray as a player by saying, “In that 2016 year, I looked up to him a lot, and last year I felt that way being on varsity as a sophomore.” Matt Murray was first called up to the NHL late in 2016 for the playoffs, and by the time he had played a full season, he was already a two time Stanley Cup champion.

One of the hardest things to overcome this season was not having the time to build up team chemistry, compared to previous years. “It was harder to get on the ice,” which as a result, the team had less time to build up team chemistry, and as the season has progressed, the team keeps seeing more success.

Being one of the few returners, Vincent went from being one the youngest on the varsity team, and the only sophomore on the team, to a team leader with more experience than most of his teammates in just one season.  

Most of the players have been playing hockey for a long time, and with a sport that has a lot of focus on working together as a team it just took a little bit of playing together for varsity to bond as a team. Since most of the players had been playing hockey for most of their lives as well, the team although much younger than previous years, definitely saw some success as the season progressed. 

Once hockey season starts, Vincent described that he and his younger brother Louis, are in “hockey mode” until the hockey season is over. When it comes to practices and games, games always take priority no matter what sport is in season. The only time the sports overlap is during the summer for hockey tryouts, and the tryouts of course take preference over all. Learning multiple sports is difficult already, and it definitely doesn’t make it any easier to play multiple sports with overlapping seasons. Hockey and baseball overlap throughout baseball preseason workouts in January, until even during March until the hockey season is wrapped up. 

Former Penguins’ goalie Matt Murray wore the number 30 and had some great success in Pittsburgh, and Vincent hopes to continue to play great with the number 30.