Back again with another exciting prospect in mind to explain why his play this season for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) should not only have your attention as a fan of the game but that of prospecting NHL general managers as well.
That player is none other than the 6’0 201 pound undrafted 19-year-old goaltender Luca Di Pasquo. Now, I know what you’re thinking; here we go again, someone hyping up another overager still playing in juniors, right? Well, I would agree with you if I were talking about a 20-year-old forward who was racking up over 120 points in a league he has no business still playing in, but we’re talking about a goalie here. Netminders generally take longer to develop, and even the best don’t usually hit their full potential until they are 23 or 24 years old.
The Michigan State University Spartans of the NCAA clearly know this, seeing that they convinced the Livonia, Michigan native to commit to playing for them next season, and my oh my, what a player they got indeed! This season while strapping on the pads for the Vees, Luca finds himself holding onto an undefeated record of 16-0-0 that he pairs with a league-leading 1.67 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage.
So, besides his incredible stats this season, what makes Luca’s game worthy of the attention of NHL scouts and executives, you may be asking? Well, this old goaltender would say, above everything else, it would have to be his stick-handling ability. Where this trait has recently become a bit of a dying art form, with so few goaltenders in the NHL even feeling the need to attempt anything more than coming out and stopping the puck directly behind the net since the league implemented the trapezoid rule back in 2005. Di Pasquo still somehow has shown the confidence to showcase on a nightly basis his ability to channel some of the best puck-moving goalies from the days of old, like Martin Brodeur, Ron Hextall, and Marty Turco in order to eliminate his opponent’s ability to either dump and chase, or dump and change. Because if they do either of those things, Luca will be quick to jump out and send a long outlet pass to his high-hanging wingers along the boards to create a breakaway attempt which often results in one of the very talented Nadeau brothers on his team scoring a goal. A feat. that Di Pasquo is no stranger to himself, seeing that he was able to net a goal a few years back while playing AAA U16 Hockey for a team called Honeybaked out of Detroit, Michigan.
Now, will Luca go on to have the type of success next season that former Spartan goalie Ryan Miller had while playing for Michigan State? Time will only tell, but one thing is for sure, Di Pasquo is opening a lot of eyes right now in the BCHL, and if he continues playing the rest of this season the way he has started out, I guarantee the MSU student body will be packing themselves into the Munn Ice Arena on a nightly basis next year to catch a glimpse of him in-between the pipes wearing their historic green and white.