UMass’ Frank Vatrano signs free agent contract with Boston Bruins



Last modified: Thursday, August 27, 2015

The optimism created by a strong finish to the 2014-15 season for the UMass hockey team suffered a bit of a blow on Thursday.

Sophomore Frank Vatrano, the Minutemen’s top goal scorer, signed a free agent contract with the Boston Bruins, giving up his final two years of eligibility.

“I wasn’t expecting too much at the end of the season, but the opportunity came across,” Vatrano said. “It was something I discussed with my family and thought it would be a good more for me.”

Vatrano admitted that the idea of playing for the Bruins, who he grew up rooting for, helped influence his decision.

“It made it a little easier. My whole life I dreamed of someday playing for the Bruins,” Vatrano said. “It’s a first class organization and a winning team. It’s something I’d love to be a part of.”

Vatrano, who just completed his redshirt sophomore year, leaves UMass having spent more time as a practice player than a game contributor. He originally signed with Boston College but left due to what he called “an admissions problem.”

The East Longmeadow native sat out the 2012-13 season under transfer rules, then missed the entire 2013-14 regular season under an NCAA ruling that was never explained. He blossomed this season with 18 goals and 10 assists.

Vatrano played for the unaffiliated Boston Junior Bruins of the Eastern Junior Hockey League from 2007-10 and again in 2012-13. He attended Cathedral for two years before moving to Michigan to play in the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Because he was undrafted out of high school he was open to contract overtures from professional teams during any offseason. He’ll likely begin his professional career for Providence, the Bruins’ top affiliate.

“I’m not sure when I’m going, but I’ll probably start in Providence,” Vatrano said. “I’m ready to start whenever that is. I’m ready to go.”

He thought UMass helped him reach this point in his career.

“It’s a great place to play. The Mullins Center is awesome,” he said. “UMass is a great school to get an education and play hockey at.”

UMass coach John Micheletto announced Vatrano’s signing via Twitter.

“So happy for @Frank_Vatrano realizing his dream w/@NHLBruins! Proud to be a part of his development. @UMassHockey”

Micheletto said the coaching staff knew this was a possibility.

“I don’t think it’s ever a surprise. Real good free agents sometimes have more options available and we anticipated that he’d have some interest coming off the season he had,” Micheletto said. “It’s a good opportunity for him.”

He admitted it would be a tough loss.

“You don’t like to lose any players,” Micheletto said. “It’s difficult to just plug and play when these scenarios come up. You plan for these situations as best you can and minimize the impact on the team going forward in the short term. That’s our goal at this point, to be in the best possible position when the puck drops next season.”

Micheletto said he hoped freshman defenseman Brandon Montour, a second round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, would be back, but he wasn’t certain.

“That’s been an ongoing conversation,” Micheletto said. “I’d like to think he would be back. I’m sure over the next few weeks that will become more definitive one way or the other.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage


 

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