With the men’s hockey team’s season on the line last weekend, tri-captain Aaron Volpatti ’10 led the Bears to an upset triumph over Rensselaer in the first round of the ECAC Hockey Playoffs. Volpatti scored a goal in each of Brown’s three games, bringing his season total to 10 goals, third-best on the team.
For his combination of scoring and toughness — he leads the team in penalties and penalty minutes — Volpatti has gotten the attention of a number of NHL teams this season.
Last weekend, his performance earned him ECAC Hockey Player of the Week honors — and now, Herald Athlete of the Week honors too.
Herald: There has been a lot of talk about you going to the NHL. Do you think that’s your next step?
Volpatti: As a team, and personally, the ultimate goal is to win a championship, so that’s what we’re trying to do. And then the benefit of that is that everyone’s going to get recognized, and that will give me and the other guys on the team the best opportunity to (play professionally). So yeah, obviously, that’s my goal to do that.
Which NHL teams have come to check you out?
I’ve met in person with a few teams — Vancouver, Nashville and Edmonton and Boston are all kind of in the mix now. There’s a few other teams that my advisor has talked to.
You’re from British Columbia?
So are you favoring the Canadian teams?
If I can sign a contract right out of college, I’m obviously going to do that. Ideally, there will be some sort of bidding war kind of thing. But I’m obviously probably going to favor Vancouver because I’m from British Columbia. But if another team offers a better deal or something like that, I’m probably going to go there — can’t really be too picky when it comes to a contract.
Many guys who are goal-scorers like you change their roles when they move up to the next level. Do you think yours will change or remain the same?
Don’t let my numbers deceive you. I’m still not a goal scorer, really. … I started Junior Hockey and I started out as a fighter and didn’t see much ice time — scored like one goal in 60 games. And then, my last year, I improved, I started scoring. But I still didn’t lose that physical element.
And that happened when I came to Brown. My first-ever game against Cornell, I got kicked out. I got like nine minutes of penalties my first shift and I didn’t play for six games after that. (Former Head Coach Roger) Grillo sat me. So, it’s just something that’s always there.
I think when I hit the next step, it’s probably going to be the same case.
Do you like having that mix of goal-scoring ability and physical play?
Yeah, that’s probably why I’m getting more attention because the game now — especially in the NHL — you can’t just have fighters. That used to be the case 10 years ago, where guys could be six-foot, six and 260 and just fight. But now, you’ve got to be able to play the game, too.
You’re a human bio major?
So if you don’t do hockey long-term, what are you going to do?
Hopefully it works out for a while. But if not, then I mean I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I might end up going back to school for a couple years. I’m not going to be a doctor by any means because I would be in school until I’m like 40. So that won’t happen, but I see myself staying in the sports field, like athletic trainer type of thing.
Is playing pro hockey something that you have dreamed of since you were a little kid?
Yeah, I think everyone dreams — especially up in Canada. Obviously, I know the faithful hockey players here dream about that, but every little kid dreams about that back home.
You play street hockey and you pretend to be so-and-so, so yeah, it’s obviously been a dream. And eventually you give that dream up. And it’s nice that I haven’t had to give it up yet. I get to keep chasing it.