By Warren Kozireski —
New York Rangers 2019 seventh round draft choice Eric Ciccolini worked his way through youth hockey in Ontario, Canada before arriving at the University of Michigan and this season is wearing a Clarkson University jersey in an effort to put up some larger offensive numbers and hopefully attract an entry-level contract.
And it seems to be working.
After scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 85 games over three-plus years as a Wolverine, the 6’0”, 185 lb. right wing already has four goals and four assists as the 13-games first half of the season came to a close with the Golden Knights.
“To just get a bigger role and just be a leader and I think I’ve been trying to do that every game,” Ciccolini said in early December. “And I think it’s been working, and I’ve been gaining momentum the last couple of games.”
“Just needed to gain more confidence and coach has a lot of confidence in me and my teammates. “(I’ve been given) “the opportunity that I was told I would be given, and I knew a couple of guys from home, so that helped the transition and it’s not too far from home.”
About 130 fewer miles for his family to drive from Woodbridge outside of Toronto.
“They’ve been here almost every weekend—my dad and my grandfather come so it’s pretty cool and exciting to see them all the time.”
The year prior to college, Ciccolini showed he can put up offensive numbers with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens with 27 goals and 62 points over 48 games.
“I can compare it to this (season) a little bit. I had a big opportunity to be a leader and coming from the year before where I was able to play with a guy like Jack McBain and see where he is now in the NHL, I think helped me for sure. Feeding off him and there were a lot of scouts at our games and stuff like that. Got that same experience the next year, had a good year and it obviously helped me commit to Michigan as well as get drafted.”
But roster competition and opportunity didn’t replicate as a 19-year-old freshman with one goal and ten assists in 26 games.
Ciccolini turns 23 years old on Jan. 14, but is consciously not looking too far beyond that.
“I am just focusing on right now and what I can do and try to prove myself (like) maybe I wasn’t able to do at Michigan as much and see what happens at the end of the year, but that how I’m looking at it right now.
“Try to produce more and more and have a bigger role was my reason. (Michigan) was a great school and I’ll never forget that, but just the opportunity here was good for me.
“Playing with those guys like (Owen) Power, (Ryan) Johnson, (Matt) Berniers; I could list so many. Just learning from them and what they do every day and trying to bring it to my game and feed off of them.”
Ciccolini injured his shoulder just prior to starting his college career and later missed most of his third year at Michigan with a torn ACL and MCL.
The move to Clarkson for Ciccolini is turning into a good situation and story, but there are several stories about his choices of jersey numbers along the way.
“I was a family friend with Gordie Howe and the Howe family…my grandfather was a pretty good friend of his growing up and stayed in contact with him. So, whenever he would come to Toronto he would stay at my father’s house, so I figured to wear #9 in Michigan just because of how close it is to Detroit.
“And I switched to #93 last year just because I wanted to change something up because of injuries and what I’ve been doing, and I got #39 here. I didn’t have much of a choice, but it’s a reverse #93, so that’s alright.”
Superstitious—maybe a little, but if he is able to continue the story after 2023-24, why not?
(Photos provided by Clarkson Men’s Hockey Program)