Mike Vannelli had 11 points in 27 games for the University of Minnesota this season as a freshman. The 6’2, right-shooting defenseman was a fourth round pick, 136th overall, of the Thrashers in 2003.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Vannelli at the Thrashers Prospects Development Camp at the team’s training facility in Duluth, Georgia.
HF: This is your first time at prospects camp, is it what you expected?
MV: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s definitely a great experience. I’m glad that I decided to come out here and see the level of competition. It’s a pretty grueling 10 days. Obviously it shows what it’s like.
HF: Jimmy Sharrow mentioned that it’s tough to keep the weight on during this camp, is that true for you too?
MV: Yeah, I’ve lost a little bit of weight. That’s one thing everyone is focusing on. Most of what you lose is water, so I’m drinking lots of water and eating more than I usually eat. Two or three workouts a day you’re burning a lot off.
HF: What has been the most challenging drill of the camp?
MV: Probably yesterday, we did a timed skating thing without pucks called The Mountain. It’s blueline back, red line back, far blue and back, all the way down and back. That was probably the toughest thing so far.
HF: How did you do on it?
MV: I did it in 47 seconds. They want you to try and get 46. For most of the guys out there 47 was a pretty average time I guess. I think the best was 45.
HF: Who had 45?
MV: Brad Schell, and Jim Slater got 45 as well.
HF: Do you think that takes more endurance or speed, or both equally?
MV: Probably a little bit of both, but more endurance than speed just because it takes so long. Endurance with your lungs and also your legs because that last stretch your legs really start to burn.
HF: You played in Sioux Falls in the USHL and now in Minnesota. Coming down here for a camp in the summertime, that’s a big climate shift.
MV: Yeah I’m not really used to playing hockey in weather like this. But once you’re out on the ice it’s all the same.
HF: The ice is pretty bad out there right now though.
MV: Yeah, it gets beat up pretty quick. Especially when you have a bunch of guys working hard out there, but you just have to get through it.
HF: You had a good freshman year at Minnesota, can you talk about how it went?
MV: Coming from the USHL, it was a step up to college hockey, and obviously the WCHA is a really competitive league. Coming in as a freshman I was just trying to hold my own and find a spot in the lineup and do a good job. You don’t play as many games in college, but you have a lot more practices and the practices at Minnesota are really tough. They try and get you better every day. So that’s one thing I focused on, was really working hard in practice, it’s a grind.
HF: How much did you play on special teams?
MV: I didn’t do too much penalty kill. I did a little bit of power play at the beginning of the year, but mostly five on five, four on four. The year before in Sioux Falls, I did pretty much everything, but coming in as a freshman I just wanted to focus on playing regular five on five at first you know.
HF: Who was your normal defensive partner?
MV: Well, we switched up a little bit during the year. In the playoffs I was playing with Peter Kennedy and we both had pretty similar styles, left-handed shot, so it seemed to work out pretty well.
HF: What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?
MV: I’d say one thing I’m trying to work on this summer is definitely leg strength and just more body strength in general. Strength and thickness. For my strengths I think I see the ice well, and moving the puck.
HF: How much do you weigh now?
MV: About 185. I lost 5 pounds here, I came in around 190. I want to put on another 10 pounds before the season starts. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that.
HF: What are you studying at school, or plan to study?
MV: The first year I got most of my generals out of the way, but I’m looking to go into Business and Marketing.
HF: Where will you be working out for the rest of the summer?
MV: We have a strength coach over at the university. We have a weight room at the rink there. So I’ll be doing most of my work there. Plyos (plyometrics) and we just got a skating treadmill this year so I’m going to be doing that, lots of leg work.
HF: Is most of the team staying in town then?
MV: Yeah, for the most part everyone is living on campus for the summer. Guys are off doing hockey camps and whatnot. Everybody is kind of in and out, but we’re all there for the summer for the most part.
HF: What is your main goal for next season?
MV: Next year I definitely want to make more of an impact on our team. That’s it for the most part.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without written permission of the editorial staff.