Joining the Penticton Vees has given Michael Campoli, 19, a new lease on life in hockey.
In his first season (2015/16) with Boston College’s Division 1 Eagles, the 6’3” 195-pound Pointe-Claire, Que. native played just a dozen games and had not dressed at all this year.
“It was difficult not playing and it didn’t seem like there was any light at the end of that tunnel so I decided that I wanted to further my hockey career and take my future into my own hands and give it a last shot,” said Campoli, who played his first games of the BC Hockey League in Penticton’s last three contests, all victories. “My goal is still the NHL and it has been my dream since I was a kid and I’m not ready to give that up just yet.
“It (not playing) was a fairly negative experience and it was such an overwhelming feeling I just needed to do something else. It had a negative impact on the way I saw other aspects of my life and I wanted to make a positive change and I’ve found that in Penticton.”
About why he left, Campoli said: The opportunity at Boston College wasn’t presenting itself.”
Transitioning from Boston to a smaller city was a challenge and Campoli credited his family, the Vees staff and players in getting him through the process smoothly.
“It helps that I’ve been playing a lot of hockey,” he added.
“I just thought if I was going to make a drastic change in my life I might as well go somewhere new and obviously I had heard phenomenal things about Penticton.
“I wanted to start new in a different place where the future is unknown and there was nothing holding me back.”
While he’s only been in a few games for the Vees this season, Campoli has already made his physical presence felt with his hard-hitting style of play on the blue line.
One person especially pleased with the new addition is Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson.
“I thought for a guy that hadn’t played for awhile, coming into a new program, new systems, new teammates he excelled in every area of the game,” said Harbinson. “For me it always starts with the type of person they are before the player and Michael’s an outstanding person, you can already see he’s going to be a great leader with our team on and off the ice. When you have good people good things happen.”
The coach compared Campoli to former Vee Nick Jones who came to the Penticton via the same route.
“Nick was at Ohio State and it just wasn’t working and he comes back here wins a championship and built his game up and now he’s one of the top players on North Dakota I see the same thing for guys like Michael Campoli,” said Harbinson. “Getting Michael here and James Miller gives us a chance to keep going in the right direction.”
Campoli agreed: “As a team we’re going to make a championship run, that’s our goal, we’re trying to win championships and hang banners.”