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A Conversation With Rutgers Men’s Ice Hockey’s D1 Captain, Griffin Privitera

I sat down recently with Griffin Privitera to discuss how the season’s going and what it’s been like as Captain, and to test if he knows his teammates as well as he should.

Illinois v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

(Editor’s Note: Rutgers Hockey is a club sport and is not affiliated with the NCAA.)

In a season filled with an abundance of turmoil, uncertainty, and adversity, Rutgers Men’s Ice Hockey’s D1 Captain Griffin Privitera has stepped up to the task and exceeded every expectation placed on him. It’s a lot to ask of a 20-year old in his third year with the program, one that lost 13 seniors last season and played eight freshmen during the fall semester (in addition to players playing positions that they’re not used to because of injuries).

So what has being Captain been like?

Privitera says, “It’s been great. I’m really honored to wear the ‘C’ and it’s definitely tough to take the ‘C’ this year as we have so many underclassmen and I just try my best to be a role model for the younger guys but it’s great. I like it so far.”

Privitera describes himself as a “gritty player” and elaborates: “I try my best to get under the other team’s skin. It usually works, I think, almost every game. Sometimes I can bury a couple goals but... I think I play a full game, offensively and defensively, and just try my best to be a pest out there and produce offensively as well.”

And it does work. Privitera currently leads the team in scoring with 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 18 games played and he’s racked up nearly 50 penalty minutes with about a third of the season to go (he had a pair of game misconducts against Syracuse University last weekend in addition to tallying a goal). He is a solid two-way player and has truly come into his own this season, both on the ice and off of it.

Privitera started skating when he was just two years old and started playing hockey around four or five, and adds that he “grew up in a hockey rink”. He tapes his sticks a certain way (same way every time), ties his left skate first, and drinks Pedialyte before every game.

A New York Rangers fan, Privitera loves watching the game. When asked who would be on his top line and top defensive pairing if he was an NHL GM (no restrictions), he named Connor McDavid, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov as his top line, and Brent Burns and Drew Doughty as his top d-pair. And just like those players, although closer to McDavid’s age than he is to the others, he is a true leader in the locker room.

When asked about Privitera’s play and leadership on and off the ice, Head Coach Joe Dickson said, “His play has not surprised me at all. I expected him to be one of my top players coming in this season and he has actually exceeded my expectations so far this season. His leadership has been outstanding. Without him, I’m not too sure where we would be, room-wise, culture-wise. I’m not sure where we would be without his leadership this year. He’s been outstanding for us.”

And it’s been a difficult semester (and season). The Ice Knights head into winter break with a 5-12-0-1-0 record and play seven of their eight remaining regular season games on the road. When asked about starting off the season 0-5-0-1-0 and how he and the team regrouped, Privitera says, “Losing the first six games of the year, it’s pretty tough and it’s really hard to stay positive and I just kept trying to tell the boys to keep their heads up and we just have to buy in as a unit, come together. I try to get the team together off the ice just for some team-bonding and just to stay positive. I think we’ve done a good job of fighting through and not giving up at all.”

Privitera has an important bond with the rest of his teammates and with a team that has a ton of new faces, having a Captain like Privitera is an important, underrate aspect of the adjustment and transition process. It also sounds like he knows his teammates pretty well and when asked to describe them in three words, he says dedicated, hard-working, and loyal. And I then asked him a few more questions about them.

Funniest teammate?

GP: “It might have to go to our goalie, Chris Marsillo. He’s a character... he’s always doing his own thing and you never know what he’s doing or saying but goalies are always weird.”

Locker room DJ?

GP: “It’s usually Joe Delandro and Tyler Gutierrez. They’re always mixing it up. I don’t really pay attention but I think they do a good job.”

Fastest skater?

GP: “Matt Langlois would be the fastest guy on our team, probably. He’s a really smooth skater, skilled forward.“

Hardest hitter?

GP: “When Ned Richard throws his hits, they’re mean. He really buries kids. Not often but when he lays it... when he lays the body, it’s hard.”

Most improved?

GP: “Jimmy Summers is really improving. I mean last year, we had 28 - 25 - skaters so we would have about five scratches a game and I think he was scratched 26 out of 28 games, probably, and now that we have a shorter roster, he’s in the lineup every game and he really works his butt off and I think he’s doing a great job. He’s playing on our fourth line but he knows his role and he works his butt off and he’s only getting better.”

Best newcomer?

GP: “I would probably give it to Tyler Allen. He’s injured right now but he’s one of the hardest working kids on the team and he’s probably the freshman we rely on most. He leads by example and he’s always working his butt off no matter what.”

Hardest shot?

GP: “Ned Richard probably has the hardest shot from the point.”

Most likely to come through in a clutch situation?

GP: “I would say our goalie, Chris [Marsillo]. Chris is always making tremendous saves and coming through especially in the shootout win against West Chester a couple weeks back. I think he made seven stops or something.”

Best to follow on Twitter?

GP: “Probably Tim Bizub. He’s always throwing out... some cliché hockey tweets.”

Most likely to drop the gloves?

GP: “Most likely to drop the gloves would probably be Joe Delandro if it came to that but we’re not allowed to fight so it can’t happen but he would be one of the first ones.”

And of course, that doesn’t prevent players from pushing and shoving, and although he said Joe Delandro, I think he could make an excellent case for himself as well. Privitera is a fighter and a self-proclaimed “pest on the ice”, and he wouldn’t hesitate to fight if it meant standing up for a teammate.

Privitera has exemplified what it means to be a leader and a role model in the way that he carries himself, in the way that he gives his team his all night in and night out, and in the way that he’s taken on such the role of Captain in such a difficult year. His actions speak volumes about his character, his drive, and his passion for this team and this game.