TRENTON - Jan 20, 2017 - by Brock Ormond -
Anthony Sorrentino has had to persevere through many avenues of his hockey career.
Just two seasons ago, the 20-year-old Woodbridge native contacted “60 to 75” junior teams in Ontario, with only one of them offering him a one-week tryout – and then promptly cutting him.
“I had nowhere to go after coming back from Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds camp in the OHL,” Sorrentino admitted.
The next year, he found himself playing major junior hockey with one of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) premier franchises in the Halifax Mooseheads.
Now, he has a shot at playing for three big Junior A championships in his final year of junior eligibility with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Trenton Golden Hawks.
The Golden Hawks are currently one of the top teams in the OJHL. They are a major contender for the Buckland Cup, a championship they won last season. They are also hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup (the Ontario Junior A championship) at the Duncan McDonald Memorial Gardens from May 2 to 6. The winner of that tournament will move on to the national Junior A championships, the RBC Cup, held just down the way in Cobourg.
The team’s success was the deciding factor for Sorrentino to come back to Ontario following his release from the Mooseheads. Sorrentino says the trade was a lengthy process for both the Trenton and Halifax organizations and for himself.
“The trade deadline in the QMJHL was Jan. 6 and I was told I was being released the Thursday night (Jan. 5). So once I was told I was being released, I called (Golden Hawks Head Coach & General Manager) Jerome (Dupont) right away (because) Trenton was always the destination that I preferred to go to if I was going to get released from the Quebec league. After that, Jerome basically made it happen. He didn’t have any Jr. A cards left, so I had to be signed on a Jr C. card and be an affiliated player.”
Sorrentino says the other main factor for coming Trenton, was being able to play alongside two of his good friends from home – Jeremy Pullara and Louis DiMatteo.
“You’re more comfortable with people that you know. I could have gone to another team where I didn’t know anyone and it would have taken a little bit longer to kind of fit in and get to know the guys. Having those two guys (DiMatteo and Pullara) really helps ease the process for sure,” Sorrentino admitted.
“Obviously, this is definitely one of the easier transitions I’ve had. It’s been a week so far and I already feel like I’m part of the team.”
The aforementioned Jerome Dupont has coached in Trenton for the past six seasons. He says he is excited about the prospect of having a player of Sorrentino’s caliber on his team for the stretch drive of the season.
“He’s a big body that’s got good hockey IQ and plays well at both ends of the ice. He’ll definitely give us some offence, he’s got a pro shot,” Dupont said.
“He’s a team player, he fits in well with the rest of the guys. He doesn’t have a big head, even though he’s accomplished a lot,” he added.
Sorrentino explained the difference between playing in the QMJHL and playing in the OJHL.
“…The way I try to explain it to people is: when you go from even Jr. B to Jr. A, you’re taking the best players from Jr. B and moving them to Jr. A or you’re taking the best players from Jr. A and bringing them to the CHL,” Sorrentino explained.
“For instance, when you have all the best Junior A players on one team, you’d expect the level of play to increase,” he continued. “Passes will be there, shots will be there and ultimately hockey sense will be there as well. That’s how I kind of put it into perspective of when you move up a level. It was really fast in the Quebec league, and you have to play fast, you have to think fast.”
Sorrentino says two big moments in his career were catalysts in silencing his critics.
“One of them was getting drafted by Kingston and the other one was scoring my first ever QMJHL goal,” Sorrentino said.
“And the reason behind that is because I’ve been told since I was 15, 16, even 17 that I wouldn't even play at the junior level, let alone the Quebec league or even the CHL. I was basically told I would never score a Junior C goal or any type of junior goal at all. So to be able to do that, it was a pretty big moment and something I will never forget.
Having learned many lessons on and off the ice in his career, Sorrentino admits that he is content with his current situation.
“There’s no regrets and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do is to go on a deep playoff run and play with my two best friends to end off my junior hockey career. It’s pretty special in my eyes.”
“Hopefully the pieces fall into place and at the end of the day, there’s a couple of rings on my finger,” Sorrentino added with a smile.