September 18, 2013 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Vannelli's Minnesota Career Ends Before It Begins

CHN Staff Report

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli has left the hockey team less than three weeks before the season starts.

"After a few weeks of trying to balance academics and athletics, Tommy made the decision this morning that college hockey was not the best route for him at this time," Gopher head coach Don Lucia said in a statement. "We accept his decision and will move on as a team."

The 2013 second round pick by St. Louis (47th overall) was a fast riser in the NHL Draft rankings as a senior at Minnetonka HS (MN). Vannelli committed to Minnesota nearly a year ago and came into Dinkytown without playing in the USHL (although he did spend some time with the US National Development Program for the U-18 World Championships).

While Vannelli's next step has not been announced, Medicine Hat owns his WHL rights. The Tigers have been successful in convincing players to forego college eligibility; most recently former North Dakota commit Miles Koules.

His USHL rights are owned by Tri-City. If he goes there, he would retain his college eligibility.

Vannelli is the second straight Blues draft pick to leave the Minnesota program. Max Gardiner, a 2010 3rd-round pick, left the Gophers following his freshman season; eventually transferring to Penn State.

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