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Ohio's Grant Hazel tries to control the puck against Liberty defenders at Bird Arena on Jan. 15. (FILE)

Hockey: Incoming player has nearly 18 years of experience under belt

After picking up the sport at three years old, the near 21-year old freshman will head to Athens and look to boost Ohio’s offense.

Editor's note: Ohio coach Sean Hogan released a list of eight incoming players who have committed to the Bobcat Hockey program. This story is the fifth in an eight-part series that will give a brief background of each individual.

When people state that they have been doing something their entire life, it’s not usually taken literally.

Gianni Evangelisti’s claim, however, is the truth.

Raised in Dublin, Evangelisti started skating at the age of 3 after attending a birthday party hosted at an ice skating rink.

“I went to my cousin’s birthday party and it was a skating party,” Evangelisti said. “I liked it, so I kind of picked it up from there.”

After almost 18 years of skating and playing hockey in high school and for travel teams, Evangelisti will be looking to extend his ice time when he suits up in for the Bobcats this fall.

It wasn’t a hard decision for Evangelisti, who was given the option to play hockey collegiately and go back to school after graduating high school in 2012.

“It was the best fit for me,” he said. “It’s close to home and I have a lot of friends from high school that go to OU.”

Not only does he have high praise for Ohio as an institution, he also praised coach Sean Hogan.

“It’s been a hockey program for a while now, and they’ve had a lot of success,” he said. “I know Coach Hogan runs a good program. I have heard nothing but good things.”

Although Evangelisti’s fit into the team dynamic is yet to be seen, he said the best fit for him is Ohio’s historic hockey team, which began in 1958. A picture of Evangelisti’s role will become clearer by the end of the month, as tryouts for the team begin Aug. 30. Practice will begin shortly thereafter.

Being a smaller guy on the ice isn’t always easy for the 5-foot-10 Evangelisti, but he doesn’t mind the challenge.

Offense has never been questionable for Evangelisti.

He has shown his playmaking ability since 2010 when he was with the Ohio Blue Jackets U16 and U18 teams. In three seasons there, he had 38 goals and 108 points. He also had 75 points for the Philadelphia Flyers Elite of the U.S. Premier Hockey League in 2013.

While in the USPHL, Evangelisti had 36 goals and 98 total points in three seasons for four teams playing in Ohio, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

“I have always been more offensively minded,” he said. “I like to consider myself a playmaker, but if the time comes and I need to shoot, I can bury the puck into the back of the net.”

Evangelisti isn’t nervous about becoming a student after three years without schooling, but rather he said he is excited and ready for the opportunity.

“(It’s) Just exciting to be a part of OU and meet new people,” he said.


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