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Damien Salducci - Junior Review


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Position: D

Born: Genoa, Italy

Age:  18

Height: 72 in.

Weight: 195 lbs.

 

 

Against all odds in the football-crazy country of Italy, Damien Salducci found ice hockey. Born to parents who were also athletes in their youth, he took to the sport as a child after watching a game at the IIHF World Championship in nearby Switzerland. “He never took his eyes off the ice” his mother Patricia remembers, “and he would annoy my husband and I every day afterwards about getting skates!”. Originally from Genoa on the west side of Italy, the family decided to move closer to the Alps, to Asiago. “We didn’t have a lot of choice of where to go; Italy is not known for ice hockey. The club there, Asiago Hockey 1935, has a great Junior and Senior program” added Damien.

 

With a full set of gear, a team to call his own, and the support of his parents, Damien’s new obsession and talents linked up and took off. He began as a forward; a LW in his U11 and U13 years, until a flu bug struck his team halfway through a tournament when he was 14 and threatened to scuttle his team’s entire participation. “We knew forfeiting the game was not an option. We had just enough healthy guys left but we were down 2 defensemen. I was always the top penalty killer and the coach figured I was the least catastrophic forward to play defense for one game. It was either me being terrible on the blueline or forfeit the game, know what I mean?” Damien adds with a laugh.

 

Damien never played LW again. Asiago Hockey won the game and ultimately the tournament, with Damien being runner-up for MVP with 3 goals and 8 assists in 12 games and a whopping 51 shots. “I went from a defensive LW to an offensive defenseman in one game. Something about playing defense just clicked with me. Nobody knew I could do that, myself included. It was a total accident.

 

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                                                                           Early days playing for Asiago Hockey 1935

 

Looking to the NHL for inspiration, Damien began molding his game around offensive defensemen that were taking the league by storm. Players like Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty were his templates, and his game grew accordingly. “I wanted to skate and pass like them. Their first pass out of their zone is always their best, and it’s so much harder to do in real life than it looks on TV. The timing has to be so, so precise.” Petri Mattila, head coach of Asiago Hockey 1935, remembers Damien’s love of reviewing his own game tape; “You can’t force the kids to love watching video of themselves, but Salducci was obsessed with fixing everything he thought he did wrong the previous night. I can’t teach that kind of ethic, but it separates the winners from the losers if I am honest.”

 

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Damien returned to the IIHF ice, this time for Italy's national team during the 2019 championships

 

Damien enjoyed the rare honor of being the first Italian in the CHL import draft in a selection by the Kingston Frontenacs in 2019. He rewarded the team the following year with 50 games played, 8 goals and 34 assists with a +/- of 28. Frontenacs head coach, Paul McFarland, admits that the first half of the season was a challenge for Damien who was adjusting to the smaller North American ice, but “his vision of the game is exceptional, and he adapted really well. We’re all eager about his future”.

 

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  "Playing hockey in Canada has been a dream come true" - Salducci about being a Kingston Frontenac

 

Asked about a career in the VHLM/VLM, Damien pauses before answering. “It would be an achievement and the reason I’ve spent most of my life grinding at this game. My mom likes to remind me that getting there is not a right or guarantee, no matter how hard I work. I am really hoping it happens though.”

 

Edited by Deee.Geee
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