by Tim Morris
As an American who embraces hockey, Andrew Uturo is thrilled to be playing in Canada where there is a like-minded love of the sport.
The Ottawa Junior Senators 19-year-old forward knows first-hand now what the sport means to Canadians.
“It’s their game, they love it,” he noted. “It’s great to be a part of it.”
Just two years ago, Uturo was playing high school hockey for Grandville High in his native Wyoming, Michigan. After graduation in 2021, he moved on to Canadian junior hockey playing for the Leamington Flyers in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
There, he scored 39 points in 47 games (22 goals and 17 assists), which was more than enough to impress Junior Senators head coach Kyle Makaric, who brought him to Ottawa back in June.
Uturo had other opportunities, but he knew Ottawa was the right fit.
“I signed right away,” he said.
Playing for a winning organization has been everything that Uturo expected.
The people here are great,” Utoro said of his experience in Ottawa. “My roommate, Massimo (Gentile) is my best friend. The coaching staff is helpful, and we have a great group of guys. They made me feel right at home. They’ve made me a 100 percent better player because of the workout sessions and practices.”
The Junior Senators have been among the very best, if not best teams in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) and it didn’t take Uturo long to find out why.
“From the general manager to the trainer they just want to win,” he remarked. “It’s truly different and I love it.”
Uturo prides himself on being a ‘200-foot’ player who plays both defense and offense, is right at home with Ottawa and its defensive emphasis, which the team terms, “protecting the house.
That Uturo has been able to make the jump from high school hockey to Junior A with Ottawa in the CCHL is a tribute to the caliber of play he experienced in high school.
“I had good coaches and teammates that prepared me,” Uturo explained.
Like everyone making the jump, the speed of the game requires the biggest adjustment. Uturo found that while it was a step up, it didn’t overwhelm him. He had the skating speed.
What took time was decision making, when to shoot, when to pass. It was a challenge, but in time the game slowed down and the forward settled into his role, which includes being on the second power play team and killing penalties.
Uturo’s goal was to “make an impact on the game.” He certainly has done that with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his first 26 games, including a game-winning tally against Navan on December 7th.
However, he was sidelined recently after losing two teeth to a high stick that required root canal. He can’t wait to return to the ice when the holiday break ends in January.
The 5-10, 170-pounder said his goal is to be a little more physical, not looking for fights, but being better and more aggressive with his forechecking.
Uturo comes from a hockey family. His father (Marc) and uncle (Eric) played hockey and his older brother Chris played college hockey.
“Chris is my role model,” said Uturo. “He’s the reason I continue to play.”
As 2022 turns into 2023, Ottawa on its familiar perch atop of the Yzerman Division and Uturo is looking forward to helping his team chase down another Bogart Cup.
As for his long-term goals, Uturo wants to play Division I college hockey and then, perhaps professional hockey overseas.