January 28, 2010

U.S. Under-17 standout making a visit this weekend

U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 defenseman Michael Paliotta has been one of the hottest prospects in the Class of 2011, with a number of college suitors hopeful he will announce for them. Paliotta will visit one of his favorites this weekend and expects to make a decision before the end of his season …

"I'm definitely going the college route and I narrowed my choice down to four - Michigan, Boston College, Harvard and Notre Dame," the 6-2, 185-pounder said.

"Academics are important. I know there is life after hockey, and I want my degree. Plus, I think the college game suits my playing style better because I'm a puck-moving defenseman and that's an emphasis in American hockey."

Paliotta has visited Michigan, Boston College and Harvard previously, choosing those schools because they offer prestigious educational opportunities and topnotch hockey.

"I really like Michigan," he said. "They were the first school to approach me and they offer probably one of the best balances between hockey and academics. They're a top-10 hockey program and a top-25 school.

"Harvard is obviously Ivy League and anyone that is serious about their education should take a look if the opportunity is provided. I'm also from Connecticut and the idea of playing closer to home is another reason I'm interested in Harvard and Boston College.

"Notre Dame is in that list too of great schools. Those are the four programs I've always known something about and so I decided to pursue them."

The Under-17 team will host the Waterloo Black Hawks this Friday and Paliotta will leave for South Bend Saturday. The Fighting Irish host Nebraska-Omaha this weekend.

"I've heard great things about the school and the coaching staff, and I want to see if I could see myself there for four years of my life, enjoying their college lifestyle and getting along with their players," Paliotta said.

In 32 games this season, the physical blue liner that models his game after Philadelphia Flyer Chris Pronger has two goals and 11 assists.

"I'm more of a defensive defenseman right now, but I know how to get pucks to the net in the offensive zone," he said. "I move pretty well and I'm physical when I need to be without being reckless and taking myself out of a play. Chris Pronger is a guy that does all the little things really well and that's what I aim to do."

Paliotta is in no rush to announce his decision but he knows he should decide soon.

"I'd like to tell the teams I'm talking to by the end of my season so they can react however they need to," he said. "I've been going through this process for awhile and it doesn't bother me that I haven't decided yet. It's something you have to be sure of."

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