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Q&A with UND freshman Matteo Costantini

The forward discussed his odd 2020-21 season, where he had to move teams in order to play games.

Costantini.jpg
UND commit Matteo Costantini celebrates after scoring a preseason goal with the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League. Photo by Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography

UND freshman Matteo Costantini had an odd 2020-21 season.

The forward from Ontario planned to play for the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League, but ended up moving to the United States Hockey League in order to play games. The BCHL had been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Costantini talked to the Herald about his transfer to Sioux City and how that helped him prepare for his freshman year at UND.

Q. Last season, you planned to play in Penticton in the BCHL, but ended up in Sioux City when the BCHL shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Can you take us through that process?

A. I started off the year in Penticton in B.C. Then, because of all the COVID restrictions, I decided I wanted to play the year before I came here to UND. I was drafted to Sioux City the year before. I ended up heading out to Sioux City. I met the guys there and instantly was like, ‘This is a great place for me.’ I thought it was a great year and a great learning experience to help me take the next step to jump to this level.

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Q. What was the timeline like?

A. I moved to Penticton on Aug. 27. We had Christmas break off in Penticton. I went home for that little Christmas break. I got back Jan. 2, then left for Sioux City on Jan. 4. So, it was a quick turnaround from Penticton to Sioux City.

Q. How did that process play out? Did Sioux City come talk to you? Did you talk to Penticton coach Fred Harbinson?

A. I was telling Fred that I wanted to keep my options open and play games. He told me like, ‘Listen, Matteo, I don’t know how good it’s looking to play games this year.’ So, I think Sioux City reached out to Fred and they kind of figured it out. After that deal was done, I talked to Sioux City and set everything up from there.

Q. How important was it to play games last season?

A. I think it was really important, just to get your feet wet before you come into college hockey. It’s a big transition. Without games, that would have probably been a lot harder.

Q. How did your time go in Sioux City?

A. It was a good experience, a good atmosphere in the rink, awesome fans and the coaching was very good as well.

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Q. What’s your time been like at UND so far?

A. It’s unreal. It’s like hockey heaven here. All the boys are great guys and they’ve been very welcoming for me being a freshman. Everything has been really good so far.

Q. Did you come on a visit to UND before your arrival this summer?

A. I did not because of COVID. I did a virtual visit.

Q. When was your first time here?

A. I got here on July 24th. That was the first time I saw The Ralph and was in Grand Forks, so that was kind of cool.

Q. What did you think of your first time walking around the building?

A. Oh my gosh, I was speechless.

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Q. You guys open NCHC play this weekend. What have the older players told you about the rivalry with Denver?

A. They said it’s going to be a pretty heated game. It’s faster-paced. It’s a heavier style of game. Obviously, they’ve got some skilled guys up front and on the back end. They said it’s going to be an intense game, but a lot of fun, so soak it in and keep it simple throughout the game.

Matteo Costantini

Class: Freshman.

Position: Forward.

Size: 6-1, 187.

Hometown: St. Catharines, Ont.

Draft rights: Buffalo Sabres (fifth round).

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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