Canucks pick up Pucci
The Niagara Falls Canucks have welcomed back a familiar face to the lineup.
When Frank Pucci was released by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he quickly contacted the Canucks who were more than happy to welcome the talented forward back.
“Frank has been here for two years prior to this year and liked his time here,” Canucks coach Frank Pietrbngelo said. “We were in contact with him the whole time and wished him the best there, but let him know he had a home here if things didn’t work out there.
“It’s not something that was expected. When Frank left last year, we were assuming he was gone to the OHL. It’s great to have him back.”
Pucci said he could see the handwriting on the wall with Sault Ste. Marie that someone might happen.
“It was kind of a letdown, but it’s always nice to know you have a good organization like the Canucks to come back to,” he said. “It was a letdown but I wasn’t that upset about it.”
Pucci, a 19-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie who played two games for the Greyhounds before falling victim to the numbers game with players returning from National Hockey League camps, led the Canucks in scoring last season with 22 goals and 67 points in just 40 games.
“He adds everything,” Pietrangelo said. “He plays on the power play and the penalty kill. He’s an elite offensive performer.
“He’s a veteran and he knows the league. He’s an elite player who can really help our offence. It’s a great addition.”
Asked how he plans to use Pucci, Pietrangelo quickly answered: “As much as possible.”
The Canucks have been on a roll playing their most consistent hockey of the season and the addition of Pucci can only help.
“The expectations with Frank back are much higher as well,” Pietrangelo said. “We had a pretty good hockey club without him and I think we’re that much better with him. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.”
Pucci, who has now turned his attention to playing for a Canadian university, is well aware it’s common for players who return from the OHL to have a letdown, at least initially.
“We always say to keep a level head. It’s a good league with good players so you can’t just come in here and dominate. You have to work for it,” he said.
Pucci played a pair of games for the Canucks last week and came away impressed.
“We have a lot of depth, that’s the first thing I noticed. We have a lot of scoring depth and players who are more creative and make good plays and fill the net this year,” he said.
The Canucks host Caledonia Friday at 7:30 p.m. Magician Greg Frewin will be performing on the ice after the first period.