By Debbie Juniewicz
Dayton Daily News
FAIRBORN, Ohio – Nino Musitelli likes to get under people’s skin — specifically, his opponent’s skin.
“I’m not on the ice to make friends,” the Dayton Bombers rookie forward said.
That wasn’t Musitelli’s only selling feature when Bombers coach Bill McDonald started recruiting this summer.
“He’s kind of a little agitator,” McDonald said. “But he’s an agitator with a lot of skill.”
The Michigan native will continue to call Ohio home after spending the past four years at Miami University. He posted 21 goals, 37 assists and 171 penalty minutes in his collegiate career.
The 23-year-old right-hander helped the RedHawks win the 2006 Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship and was selected as a member of the Frozen Four Skills Challenge Team last season.
Musitelli lit up the scoreboard in the Bombers’ 3-2 preseason win over Cincinnati on Oct. 10 with a goal and an assist.
“That was a good start, but there are a lot of different aspects to my game,” Musitelli said.
At 5-foot-8, however, size is not one of Musitelli’s advantages.
“I’m not the biggest guy, but I’m fast and I’m a skilled guy,” he said. “I have a few other tools that make up for being smaller.”
Musitelli laced up his first pair of skates when he was just 3 years old and has “loved every second of it,” but was stunned to silence when his agent called him with the Bombers’ offer.
“When my agent told me about Dayton, I said, ‘OK,’ and hung up the phone,” Musitelli said. “He called me back to see if I heard him and find out if I was excited. I think I was just kind of in shock.”
The rookie has already noticed some major differences between college and professional hockey.
“It’s a little faster pace, a lot more controlled and a lot more skilled here,” Musitelli said. “And I know I need to work on my strength.”
It still hasn’t quite sunk in that he is playing hockey for a living.
“My dad and uncle are still like, ‘Wow, you’re living the dream,’ ” he said. “It is pretty cool.”
And if Musitelli has his way, Dayton is only the first stop in his professional career.
“Individually, my goal is always to get better, and I want to do whatever it takes, on and off the ice, to be successful,” he said. “I don’t want to leave anything to chance.”