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OJS Player Profile: Vincent Velocci

by Tim Morris

The Ottawa Junior Senators will be relying on veteran leadership this season.
With just seven players returning from last year’s Bogart Cup championship squad the team will be leaning on its veterans, like center Vincent Velocci, who is the longest tenured Junior Senator (this is his fourth year with Ottawa).

Velocci’s teammates showed their respect for him by naming him an alternate captain for the season. It represents for him going full circle from the newcomer looking up to and learning from the older players to now, being in that position as one of those veterans players.

“It’s an honor to get to be a leader,” said the 20-year-old, who shoots left-handed. “It shows my growth to be voted an alternate captain by my teammates. As one of the older guys the players look up to me. I’ve seen a lot in my years with the team. I’m going to take what I’ve learned and put my own spin on it.”

With a large turnover year this year, Velocci knows what it’s going to take from the captains and veterans to maintain Ottawa’s standard of excellence.

“It’s important with a new team to stay on an even keel,” the Toronto native explained. “We have to be the leaders the other guys can rely on in games and practices or to get advice.”

Velocci’s biggest contribution is the example he sets for the others. Junior Senators coach Kyle Makaric has said of the center that he “doesn’t ever cheat on effort. He pushes himself and others to get better.”

With each year in Ottawa Velocci has become more offensive-minded. A talented two-way player who takes as much pride in his defense as offense, he used to look at himself as more of a playmaker, a facilitator rather than scorer.

Last season the 5-10, 165-pounder scored 32 points in 49 games and turned it up a notch in the playoffs with eight goals and nine points in 13 playoff matches. He started 2022-23 off strong with 12 points in 11 games (2 g, 10 a), including a game-winning goal against the Pembroke Lumber Kings.

Velocci attributes his offensive production increase to experience and maturity.

“At the end of the day it’s a culmination of my years in junior hockey,” he explained. “I’m a little faster, stronger, and smarter. I’m seeing the game better. I’m finding the right place to be in to score. For sure, I’ve put in the work.”

Over his four years in the national capital, Velocci has learned the team’s recipe for success.

First, he noted, is the Junior Senators’ history of success on the ice. It makes a difference when it comes to recruiting players. He pointed out that when prospective players must decide between two teams, they are going to go with the most successful one. As a result, Ottawa, which has won the Bogart Cup three straight years as well as dominating the Yzerman Division in the Central Canada Hockey League, is where the best players want to go.

Second, he remarked how close-knit the team is. “On and off the ice we do things together,” he added. “We are a team away from hockey. I heard guys come over from other teams and talk about the great environment we have here.”

With veteran leaders like Velocci to pass the torch and show the way for newcomers to the program, it’s easy to see why the Junior Senators have maintained a high level of excellence.

And, Velocci conceded that this season is particularly important to him.

“There’s a sense of urgency, it’s my last year,” he said. “I don’t want to look back and have any regrets.”