Tyler Antonucci was born in New Jersey and played his youth hockey in the Garden State from bantams and even into junior hockey. He joined the Titans of the NAHL in 2016-17 and served as the captain in 2017-18. He recently committed to Oswego.
Neutral Zone caught up with Antonucci to chat about youth hockey in New Jersey, his commitment and more.
Neutral Zone: How and when did you start playing hockey?
Tyler Antonucci: I began playing hockey at the age of four after spending years in front of the television watching hockey games.
NZ: What’s your earliest memory from playing hockey?
TA: My earliest memory is getting called up to play in the Bell Capital Cup.
NZ: What was your youth hockey experience like?
TA: My youth hockey experience was one of the best experiences of my life. I met teammates who are still my friends and I was able to travel to so many interesting places with my family.
NZ: How did playing for the North Jersey Avalanche help your development?
TA: Playing for the North Jersey Avalanche helped with my development by figuring out the ins and outs of my game. The coaches in the organization were very important in my success as a hockey player.
NZ: How did you end up with the Titans?
TA: Craig Doremus was coaching one of my summer teams and was then named head coach of the NJ Titans. A few days later he offered me a tender and the rest fell into place.
NZ: What went into your decision to stay in N.J. during your youth and junior hockey, and how do you feel the youth hockey culture has changed in the state since you were younger?
TA: Being close to home and growing up playing in New Jersey helped make my decision to stay in N.J. for junior hockey. The amount of players coming out of N.J. is awesome to see and it continues to get better and better.
NZ: Take us through the NCAA recruitment process. What other schools were you talking to and where did you visit?
TA: The NCAA recruitment process was a challenging one. There were rumblings from some Division I schools throughout my last season, but I never got the chance to visit any of those programs.NZ: What made you decide to commit to Oswego? What went into that decision for you and your family to know it was the right place?
TA: When I visited Oswego, it had everything I wanted in a college. Playing in front of a huge fan base and a great atmosphere. I knew it was a place I would feel comfortable attending and somewhere I could see myself fitting in.
NZ: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while playing hockey?
TA: The strangest thing I have seen playing hockey is when Tenafly High School used two goalies and four skaters during a high school hockey game.
NZ: What are your best on-ice skills?
TA: My best on-ice skills are my hockey IQ and my offensive ability.
NZ: What aspect of your game are you working on improving the most?
TA: The aspect of my game I will continue to work on is my foot speed.
NZ: Is there a professional player you model your game after?
TA: The professional player I model my game after is Drew Doughty.
NZ: Who’s been the biggest influence in your hockey career?
TA: The biggest influence in my hockey career is my coach Tom Preville.
NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?
TA: The toughest challenge I have faced in hockey is convincing coaches to take a chance on me.
NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in life?
TA: The toughest challenge I have faced in life is always being be told I wasn’t good enough and having to prove those people wrong.
Photo credit: Hickling Images