Corner Brook -
There'll be a new 'police' man on the blueline of the Corner Brook Royals this season.
Sarnia, Ont. native Nick Policelli recently signed on to fill one of three import cards for the club. The 28-year-old played four years in the Ontario Hockey League including stints with the Belleville Bulls and Kitchener Rangers before playing at the University of P.E.I. and Dalhousie University .
Now operating a security company and living in St. Peter's, P.E.I., Policelli said he has been in contact with members of the organization since June and is excited to join a team with a hockey tradition as storied as the Royals, and to play in a league as competitive as the West Coast Senior Hockey League.
"From what I understand it's quite a high calibre of hockey, which I've been missing," Policelli told The Western Star. "I haven't had a chance to play like that since university and I'm looking forward to that type of challenge."
As someone who served both as captain of the Bulls and Rangers and who helped the Bulls to a spot in the Memorial Cup in his rookie season, Policelli figures to be just the kind of stabilizing force Royals general manager Wally Fitzpatrick will be looking to add to the roster in order to improve on a disappointing fourth-place finish last year.
"His biggest thing is he wants character guys," he said of Fitzpatrick. "He wants guys that can step in and play, know their role and go from there. I know that he wants to build a contender. In terms of recruiting, they've been going pretty steady the last few months trying to get guys in there, especially defencemen, and try to build upon that."
When asked what kind of role he expects to play on the team, Policelli said while his style isn't flashy, he prides himself on playing a well-rounded game from the back end.
"I'm pretty old school in terms of the way I play," said Policelli, who racked up 777 penalty minutes in 248 OHL games. "I'm probably more of a defensive defenceman than an offensive defenceman, but I've got experience playing everything from power play to shorthanded.
"I do like the physical style of play, that's no secret. I'm only about five-foot-eleven but I'm well over 200 pounds so I can handle myself."
Despite being a newcomer to a team after playing leadership roles on clubs in the past, he said his personality should make for a smooth transition to his new environment.
"I'm a pretty outgoing guy, I enjoy meeting new people and you take it as a challenge," he said. "Walking into a new place and new surrounding is always going to be a little bit different but it depends on how you approach it. For me, I love getting to know people from all different backgrounds and areas and learning more about them. I think that's what helps make the transition a bit easier."
A former teammate of new Deer Lake Red Wings import goalie Paul Drew at the University of P.E.I., Policelli is eager to step in and have an immediate impact on his new club, and doesn't anticipate the weekly travel grind to be much of an issue for him.
"I've talked to a few people I know that have had the opportunity to play in the league and they said it's something you have to definitely get used to," he said.
"Obviously, you want to make sure there's some type of balance between your work and your life and with hockey, but I'm sure it won't be a problem.
"I plan on playing every game possible. I don't plan to sit out any games, and it would have to be something quite substantial for me to miss one."