The Boston Bruins added another promising forward prospect to the system this March with the signing of Western Michigan University Broncos (CCHA) wing Jeff LoVecchio. LoVecchio, who had just completed his junior season with the Broncos, served as one the team’s co-captains and was among the top defensive forwards of the league. He’s a player who brings plenty to the table — good size, skating ability and excellent vision. While his defensive responsibility is one of his strongest attributes, he is also skilled offensively, and is particularly effective with his work around the net.
Following his signing, LoVecchio joined the Providence Bruins (AHL), where he has had the opportunity to test the waters as a pro. LoVecchio played in 14 games with the P Bruins at the tail end of the regular season and hopes to be a part of a long playoff run.
Hockey’s Future spoke to LoVecchio after practice at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, the day after the team’s first postseason win.
HF: Great start to the postseason for this team last night, what did you think of the game?
JL: It was great. I was up in the stands watching, and it was really sweet to see a win for the first time in the playoffs. My team in college got swept so it’s pretty nice to see a win.
HF: You’ve been here for a few weeks now, what are your early impressions of the pro game?
JL: It’s a lot different game than college. It’s a lot of fun, though. Your job is hockey — you don’t have to focus too much on anything else, except get yourself prepared and do what you have to do night in and night out.
HF: What do you think is the biggest difference between the pro game and the college game?
JL: With the pro game it’s a lot more puck movement and with the college game it’s a lot more guys skating with the puck up ice. That’s the biggest difference — you can’t get the puck and just try and skate all the way up the ice by yourself. In college you can do that a little more. Here it’s a lot more passing, and the puck just moves way quicker.
HF: How did the signing with the Bruins come about?
JL: I talked to them a little bit throughout the year, and towards the end of the year I talked to [Bruins scout] John Weisbrod and he told me that they were interested. When my season was over, they contacted my adviser and they made me an offer — and I took it.
HF: It has to be a bit of an adjustment. Things have moved pretty fast for you. You go from being a junior in college and now all of a sudden you’re here. What has that been like?
JL: It was definitely a little bit of an adjustment, and it happened so fast, you know we lost on Saturday and I was flying out, I think, on Tuesday morning. The game’s a lot different, so the first couple weeks it took some getting used to, used to all new systems. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been really fun and I’m just glad that I got to come in during the season and get my feet wet to better prepare me for next year.
HF: Is it difficult to join another team late in the season like that?
JL: It’s difficult, but the guys in the locker room here have been great. Coach has been great. The guys have all pretty much accepted me, been really nice to me and helped me out in practice, so I couldn’t have asked to come to a better team.
HF: How have the team and the coaching staff helped you along?
JL: With Coach, he’s always coming up to me in practice and letting me know system-wise what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right, too. He shows a lot of video with all the new guys, not only my mistakes or my good things, but other guys that are making mistakes so I can see them. Guys on the team, they’re doing the same thing, like when I come back to the bench, if I’m not in the right spot they’ll help me out.
HF: You got the opportunity to assume a leadership role with your team in college. Did that affect how you approach the game?
JL: I was captain for my second two years at Western and you know when you have a letter on your jersey, you always have to try to be doing the right thing, both on and off the ice. That’s what I try to do, is lead by example — always working hard and stuff like that. So that definitely made me approach the game a bit different – coming in here, obviously I’m not in that type of role. I’m the young guy, the rookie. Guys like [Nate] Thompson and [Jeff] Hoggan, are really helping me out. I sit next to both of them in the locker room. Hoggan’s always giving me pointers and tips it’s helped me out a lot.
HF: How did your time in college help prepare you for playing pro?
JL: Probably just because with the college game you get to work out a little bit more than major junior, I think that helped me out a lot to get my body physically ready to make that jump. Obviously I’m not there yet. I’ve still got to work on it, but definitely I think that helped prepare me for the pro game.
HF: You were a strong player at both ends of the ice in college. What do you hope to bring to this team, and ultimately the Bruins organization?
JL: Try and be a power forward, good defensively. To be counted on in defensive situations and be a plus player. Lay some bodies out there, penalty kill, trying to do as well as I can with the penalty kill. Today’s game there’s a lot of penalties; teams need good penalty killers so I try to work on that a lot.
HF: What do you guys need to do to get past Manchester?
JL: We’ve just got to play our game. It’s going to be a tough series, as you saw last night. We’ve played them three times since I’ve been here and every game’s been so close. It’s going to be a great series, and you know last night was a precursor to the next six games, or however many games it takes to end the series. It will be fun to watch.
HF: Hopefully you get to play in a couple as well…
JL: (laughs) Yeah hopefully. I’m definitely excited.