Picture by: Dan Richeal
By: Franklin Heinzmann
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – When the Purple Eagles beat Mercyhurst 3-0 on Feb. 7, not only did the Purple Eagles get a crucial win over an Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) opponent, but it also meant that Purple Eagles goaltender Chad Veltri earned his first career shutout. He followed it up the next day with 34 saves in a 4-2 win over Mercyhurst in the second game of a home-and-home. He was rewarded for his efforts with AHA Goalie of the Week honors.
Veltri looked back on the shutout fondly and what it meant in terms of his career thus far.
“It was something special,” Veltri said. “It was something you want to get from the beginning but it’s a pretty hard achievement [to earn]. It’s nice to get that off my back and get the first one.”
Similar to head coach Jason Lammers, Veltri spent time in the United States Hockey League (USHL) before coming to NU. Now that Veltri has seen action in both leagues, he’s noticed some differences between the USHL and the AHA.
“It’s definitely a big difference,” Veltri said. “The skill is still pretty even….[Players in the USHL] have some great skill, but the work ethic in Atlantic Hockey is way different. There’s a lot more compete in the AHA than in the USHL, so it’s good from a different perspective.”
Prior to his days in the USHL, Veltri grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Naturally he grew up watching the Pittsburgh Penguins. He tries to model his game after former Penguins goaltender, and current Vegas Golden Knights goaltender, Marc-André Fleury. Veltri likens himself to Fleury in that they’re both smaller goaltenders who rely on their quickness and skill to make saves.
As for this season, Veltri currently boasts a 2.28 GAA and .926 SV% in 15 games. The team is coming off a 6-1 victory over Sacred Heart, who was ranked No. 20 in the country. Veltri said the team is taking it one game at a time coming into the final stretch of the regular season.
“We’re just trying to win each game and take it one game at a time,” Veltri said. “We just want to keep this push going and push it all the way into the playoffs. These last four games will determine home and away [seeding] for us, so it’s big games for us.”
Statistics as of Feb. 19, 2020