Costantini joins Vees
Matteo Costantini’s hockey career has taken a detour.
The 18-year-old St. Catharines native was seriously considering playing this season in the United States Hockey League after being selected in the first round (third overall) by the Sioux City Musketeers following a breakout season with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
But the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything and Costantini is now heading west to continue his career with the Penticton Vees of the British Columba Hockey League.
“I definitely had interest in the BCHL,” the St. Francis graduate said. “The league speaks for itself and especially with the whole pandemic happening, it was undetermined what was going on in the States, so talking with my advisor and my family we figured maybe to stay in Canada another year would be a good option for us.”
The Vees reached out to Costantini who then took a trip to British Columbia to get a first-hand look.
“The option opened up and presented itself. I went and checked it out and fell I love with it,” he said. “I got to see the rink and the area. It’s beautiful there. It’s surrounded my mountains. I’ve never been to BC so it was definitely cool to see a different part of Canada.”
Costantini isn’t worried about the move so far from home.
“I trust the billets are going to be awesome so I feel the adjustment will be quite easy. Going into my first year in Buffalo, I know what to expect. It’s a little bit farther and seeing my parents less but that’s why you have FaceTime and text messaging,” he said.
Costantini isn’t taking anything for granted with the Vees.
“At the end of the day, you have to earn everything,” he said. “They are definitely going to give me a fair chance to earn a spot on the team in training camp.
“I’m going to go there and work my butt off and show them what I have.”
Costantini said the BCHL plans to open camps Sept. 1 with exhibition games slated for Sept. 18.
“I feel like I’m all BC, especially with everything going on with the pandemic,” he said. “I’m excited to get out to BC. I feel like it’s going to be an awesome time and I will definitely be there the whole year.
“It’s unpredictable. No one has a crystal ball. No one knows if it’s going to get better or get worse so I might as well just stay in Canada.”
Costantini put together a fabulous season with the Jr Sabres in his draft year leading the team in scoring while being named rookie of the year and also taking home the Top Prospect Award as well as earning a spot on the second all-star team. The six-foot, 174-pound centre, collected 36 goals and 68 points in 50 games. He joined the Jr. Sabres the previous season in order to keep his options open for an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) scholarship.
“I definitely have a little more confidence going into this year, especially because it’s my second year of junior. I’m just going to try and remember everything I learned from my vets and coaches last year and bring that over to Penticton.”
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