Workhorse goalie Shane Brancato, a three-year veteran of the Soo Eagles and the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, has opted to play at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level for the Trine University Thunder effective the 2020-2021 season.
Brancato confirmed his commitment to Trine — which is located in Angola, Indiana — to Hockey News North.
Angola is about 230 miles from Brancato’s home town of Lake Villa, Illinois and approximately 375 miles from Sault Ste. Marie.
In addition to playing Division 3, NCCA hockey at Trine, Brancato said he will also have the opportunity to be on the school’s track and field team.
Academically, Brancato said he will be majoring in exercise science.
Brancato, who is a client of David Maciuk of JDM Sports Management, is fresh from a splendid 2019-2020 NOJHL season with the Michigan-based Eagles.
During regular season play, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Brancato fashioned a record of 21-18-3 to go with a 2.89 goals against average and .919 save percentage while stopping 1,379 of 1,501 shots in 2,536 minutes of action.
He followed that up with a 2-0-0 record, 1.00 goals against average and .969 save percentage while stopping 64 of 66 shots as the Eagles swept the Espanola Express in two straight games in the preliminary round of this spring’s playoffs.
The friendly, likeable Brancato, who has a 1999 birth date, said he has much to take away from his three NOJHL seasons with the Eagles.
“I could not have picked a better place to play my junior hockey than with the Soo Eagles,” Brancato began. “It is a first class organization that does things the right way.
“Playing in the Michigan Soo was also an awesome experience. I met so many great people and I am grateful that I was able to be a part of the community.
“Three years ago I couldn’t even point to it on a map but now it is a place I will always call home and it will hold a special place in my heart,” Brancato added.
Among a number of NCAA offers, Brancato explained why he chose to pick Trine as his destination.
“I chose Trine because it is still a relatively new (hockey) program but they’ve gotten better every year. I want to be a part of building a reputation for a school and being a part of the culture that already exists there,” he noted.
Eagles general manager Bruno Bragagnolo referred to Brancato as a “really good goalie and a really good kid who represented us very well on and off the ice during the three years that he was with us.
“Trine is an up and coming NCAA hockey program and they are getting a great addition in Brancato. The Soo Eagles are very proud of Shane and we know that he will do well at Trine,” Bragagnolo added.
PHOTO: Shane Brancato is coming off a splendid three-year NOJHL career with the Soo Eagles.