Piacentini looks to continue building on experience with hockey family as Syracuse takes on Cornell

first_img Published on December 2, 2014 at 12:28 am Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettus When sophomore Tyler Piacentini scored in a shootout for Norwich University on Saturday, he used a move he’d seen his younger sister, Melissa, use many times.He skated toward the goalie, deked and pulled the puck back, shooting it top-shelf over the goalie’s shoulder.But it’s usually been Melissa learning from Tyler, as well as her father Tony and older brother Rob, en route to becoming Syracuse’s top scoring threat.“I try to mimic his style,” Piacentini said. “Him being my older brother, I kind of look up to him. I definitely try to watch him specifically to see what he does. I think he’s a smart player so it’s a lot to pick up on.”The skills she’s learned from Tyler, and competitiveness developed from growing up with two older brothers have helped her lead the Orange with eight goals on the season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThough she’s tallied eight points in the last seven games, she has been held off the stat sheet the last two games and is looking to regain her scoring dominance when Syracuse (4-7-7, 3-2-3 College Hockey America) takes on Cornell (3-6, 3-2 ECAC) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Ithaca, New York.“She’s rather dynamic,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “I’ve been saying it ever since she got here. She’s a lot of fun to coach. She’s 5 feet nothing out there, but she’s strong. “Her skill development before she got here, the people that coached her have done a great job and she has a lot of innate abilities.”Piacentini started skating at 3 years old. She put on a pair of her father’s old rollerblades and made it 300 feet from one end of the driveway to the other at her home in South Weymouth, Massachusetts.It wasn’t long until she was playing street hockey with Tyler, Rob — her other brother who is 4 years older — and other kids from the neighborhood. The Piacentini family always had two nets set up in their driveway and the kids would play until it got dark.Even though Melissa was younger than everyone else, they didn’t treat her any differently. They treated her like one of the guys.“We don’t really take it easy on her,” Tyler said. “We didn’t treat her gently. She’s one of us. I think that definitely I would have to say she is one tough girl — probably because we didn’t take it easy on her.”The street hockey games fostered the competitive attitude that Tyler and Melissa share. Each one would compete to score the last goal of the day. Whoever did bragged about it and the one that didn’t would accuse the other of cheating.When Melissa played T-ball — where everyone bats and every game ends in a tie — she would keep track of the score and argue with her dad, Tony, on the car ride home about which team won.When she was 13, she switched to a more competitive hockey team, the Assabet Valley Girls Ice Hockey Program, with the goal of winning a national championship.“I told her, ‘Well, you’re not guaranteed that,’ but she said, ‘I want to win a national,’” her mother, Lauren, said.And that year her Assabet Valley Under-14 team did. On the seven-hour ride back from Rochester, Melissa clutched her gold medal and slept. For years afterward, she slept with it under her pillow.But before she exclusively played women’s hockey, her and her brother played together with their dad as the coach. He focused heavily on fundamentals — which he said “used to drive them crazy.” Flanagan said Melissa’s fundamentals are what makes her one of the team’s top players. He’s used film of her to teach her teammates how to use their bodies. Her fundamentals also led to the most points on the team last year and the most consecutive games with at least a point in program history. This year, she’s tied for second on the team with 11 points.Tony taught Tyler how to use his small size to his advantage and Melissa has followed suit. “We’re both small in stature so we’ve kind of built off that,” she said. “He’s always taught me to use it to my advantage so he’s taught me to go in the corners and get low and beat them out there.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img