Skating is a family affair for the Scicchitano family, and it’s paid off for middle son Nick, who leaves today to play hockey for the 79ers in Europe for two weeks.
The rising sophomore at Aquinas High School has played hockey since he was 7 years old, after being introduced to the ice rink at a friend’s birthday party.
He then went on to play hockey for the Atlanta Thrashers and was coached by Brad McCrimmon, a Detroit Red Wings Hall of Famer in whose honor he wears the No. 10 jersey after McCrimmon’s death in an airplane crash in 2011.
McCrimmon taught Nick how to play professionally, meaning he knows how to take out a player with a proper legal hit, said his father, Bill.
“He was taught how to play correctly and was blessed with a lot of good coaches when he was younger,” Bill said.
Former NHL players Darren Eliot and Yan Kaminski and former Augusta Lynx player John Whitwell, who coaches in Augusta, also taught Nick along the way.
The roughness of the sport is an aspect Nick enjoys.
“Flying on the ice full speed is definitely a lot of fun,” he said.
Nick, who plays defense, still has all his teeth and hasn’t had any major injuries, but he can’t say the same for some of his opponents.
“I’ve sent a handful of guys on stretchers with clean hits,” he said.
Nick has been presented the opportunity to finish out his high school years at the Ontario Hockey Academy in Canada.
“I love to be on the ice all the time,” he said, and if he goes to Canada his junior year he would do just that because the school has an ice rink.
His mental game has helped Nick stand out among fellow players, he said.
“He sees what’s happening before it happens,” Bill said.
Nick said that he plays the whole game full speed and although he might not feel good at the end, it’s necessary to advance in the game. Work ethic is important, he said.
Nick, who plays up to the AAA level, plans to continue playing for the Lexington Wildcats high school team in the upcoming season because Aiken County does not have a team.
He recently had the chance to attend a Junior A training camp, but he passed on the opportunity to attend a church conference in Ohio.
“He skipped an opportunity of a lifetime for an opportunity of lifetime,” his father said.
The European opportunity came about when professional hockey player Jason Dawe recruited him to play on the Southeast Nationals Tournament team in spring 2011. Nick played in two Canadian showcase tournaments and was later introduced to coach Stirling Wright, who called a friend in Texas that got him a slot on the 79ers.
While in Europe, he will play in eight games, including the Czech Hockey Challenge Cup in Prague, where he will play against one of the top teams in the Czech Republic- Sparta Praha White.
He will also get the chance to tour the area for three days.
“It will definitely be fun, gives exposure to kids in other countries,” Nick said.
He will visit the Czech Republic and Austria, and said playing hockey abroad with professionals will help bring him to the next level of play.
Nick returns from Europe on Aug. 12, just in time for the first day of school on Aug. 13.
After high school, Nick hopes to play professionally.
“I definitely want to play college, and hopefully if I am good enough I will be drafted (to play professionally),” he said. “I would love to play for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since I was a little kid I wanted to do that. It’s been my parents’ favorite team because they grew up in Pennsylvania.”
Nick’s collegiate goals include playing hockey for the University of Notre Dame and majoring in psychology with a minor in theology.