Sirizzotti wants more from himself
by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
Determined to refine his shine, Brenden Sirizzotti has committed himself to becoming a complete player.
Shortly after joining the 2022-2023 Soo Greyhounds in a December trade with Niagara, Sirizzotti’s offensive talents made a definite impression on his new head coach.
Back then, John Dean spoke of how the Whitby, Ont., native was one of the OHL’s best players from the blue-line in.
“He has great vision and really-good hockey intelligence to go with his skillset,” Dean offered during a Saturday conversation.
But the 20-year-old (2003 birth year) Sirizzotti, about to begin his overage season, needs to work on becoming more of a well-rounded, 200-foot player.
Conversations between coach and player have been frequent, leading into Friday’s regular season opener against the Flint Firebirds. Start time at GFL Memorial Gardens is 7:07 p.m.
“We’ve talked a lot over the past couple of weeks and Deaner is happy with the way I’ve been working on it, but obviously, there’s always more.”
The right-winger spoke of the areas he’s pushing himself in.
“I’m playing a 200-foot game, forechecking, back-checking, playing defence. I’m just trying to do it all this year,” he added.
His resolve hasn’t escaped Dean.
“He’s really making an effort to become a complete player,” the coach said. “We’re working on him being super consistent with an emphasis on hard skills as opposed to the intelligent skills he comes by naturally.”
Chosen by the Ottawa 67s in the second round (No. 32 overall) of the 2019 OHL draft, Sirizzotti had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games with the IceDogs last season. He joined the Soo in exchange for a third-round draft choice in 2026 and an eighth-rounder in last April’s draft.
His production rate grew with the Hounds: Fourteen goals and 25 assists in 39 games.
Sirizzotti registered a career-high, two-goal-three-assist performance on March 18 against Windsor.
“Over the second half of last year he found himself and really started to figure it out,” said Hounds general manager Kyle Raftis. “He put in a great summer of training and really looks like he’s in great shape.”
Disappointed after missing the playoffs, Sirizzotti talked about how he and his teammates had a long, unwelcomed off-season.
“I put on 20 pounds over the summer and it hasn’t slowed me down,” said Sirizzotti, who now carries 193 pounds on his six-foot frame. “I feel a lot better, a lot stronger and faster.”
And he’s hoping to put all of that to good use.
While he spoke of how winning games and being well-rounded are his biggest goals, Sirizzotti also talked of how he believes he’s capable of roughly 30 goals and more than 80 points.
But while offence remains his strength, the summer provided the opportunity to focus on the aspects of his game which require attention.
“Instead of working on the things I’m good at, I kind of worked on things that weren’t quite there,” he said. “I’ve tried to work on corner play, forechecking and always moving my feet.”
And there’s more.
Joining Jordan D’Intino and recently-acquired Jack Beck as overages, Sirizzotti says he hopes to be a leader for this season’s Greyhounds. He wants the team’s younger skaters to know they can depend on him.
That mindset hasn’t been lost on Raftis.
“He’s really taken on a leadership role and there’s a maturity to his game,” the GM said. “Just talking to him, he seems like a completely different person. I’ve really been impressed with him.”
Upon reflection, a big part of Sirizzotti’s effective play has to do with his comfort level.
He says he’s found a home in Sault Ste. Marie.
“This is the most welcomed and depended upon I’ve felt,” he added.