by Tim Morris
It would be easy to say that Massimo Gentile’s increased scoring production is the result of more playing time.
That would only be part of the story. The other is all the work the Ottawa Junior Senators’ 19-year-old has put into his game.
When the Montreal native came to Ottawa last year, he joined a championship team. The Junior Senators continued their domination of the Central Canada Hockey League’s (CCHL) Yzerman Division and then went on the win their third straight Bogart Cup and qualify for the Centennial Cup, Canada’s junior hockey national championship.
Gentile, who averaged more than a point a game playing for the Lac-Sat. Louis Lions in Bantam AAA junior hockey in Quebec, scored 25 points (12 goals and 13 assists) in 53 games for Ottawa last season. In the playoffs, however, he scored eight points in 13 games. While he showed plenty of potential, the talent around him limited the center/forward’s playing time.
“There were so many great players, it was hard to get ice time,” Gentile pointed out. “It made me work harder to earn my place.”
That attitude is a big reason why Gentile arrived as a different player in Ottawa this year. He was ready to take advantage of his experience and earn regular status for 2022-23. It also led to him being named an alternate captain.
Gentile has taken off this season leading the Jr. Senators in scoring with 21 points through the first 15 games, including 14 goals, three of which were game-winners.
“It’s an accumulation of the work I did last year and over the summer all coming together,” said Gentile of his scoring production. “One of the biggest things for me was getting used to the speed of the game.”
While conceding that his slap shot has improved over the last year, that’s not why his goal scoring is up.
“Now I’m more composed, I see the game better and I trust myself,” he explained. “Last year I was afraid to lose the puck and I’d pass it or chip it forward. I’m being more offensive with the puck. I’m more confident with the puck on my stick.”
The 5-9, 160 pound Gentile has spent most of this time on a line with Anton Sorensen and Vincent Velocci. This trio has gelled, combining for 22 goals and 30 assists.
In describing his game, Gentile said that he is “a fast player with speed who sees the ice very well. I don’t like to limit myself to one position. I look at myself as a playmaker and goal scorer.”
Growing up in Montreal, Gentile also played soccer and basketball but, it was always ice hockey that was his focus. His father, Tony, and older brother Alessandro, played hockey themselves and that gave Massimo motivation to pick up the sport as well.
“I wouldn’t be playing without them,” he said.
Gentile credits his father with being his biggest inspiration. “He’s taught me everything that I know,” said Gentile. “He’s seen the work I’ve put in and is proud of me.”
Having joined one of Canada’s most respected teams, Gentile noted that he and his teammates are aiming to continue the tradition. The key, he said, is playing with consistency throughout the CCHL’s grueling schedule.
Gentile is clearly up to the task.