Former Lambton AAA player Gino Mini has some decisions to make this upcoming hockey season.
The former USA Player came to play in Canada in 2013-14 after being selected to the Lambton AAA Major Midget team.
The transition to the Canadian style of hockey didn't come easy to the 6' 3" 175 lb Defenceman from Richmond, Michigan.
"Gino came in and had American Hockey Player written all over him." said Ray Fisher, his former Lambton Defensive Coach. "All the little things you don't want a kid to do we had to get him to come back and fit in as a team concept and it took most of the year to do that."
Both Head Coach Jonathan Taylor and Fisher described Mini as a player with tremendous athletic ability.
"He had tremendous athletic ability picking pucks out of the air and turning on a dime." Fisher said "But it was his hitting that made him stand out and closing the gap. In all my years in coaching (since 1970) nobody has every closed the gap better than Gino."
Mini who lives 20 minutes from the border is continuing to work out with the Canadians this summer.
"I love playing in Canada. I played one year over here and I got more opportunities than I did my entire life in the states so it just goes to show what the difference between the two. At first it was hard to adjust because Jonathan is more of a grinder, tougher and tighter hitting guy. In the States everyone has finesse skills, that's the style that was hard to change but I like it a lot and as a defenceman it made me a better player to adjust to his style because now I have best of both worlds."
Mini will have to make some major decision in the near future. He has been tendered with the London Knights of the OHL and the Wisconsin River Kings in the Minnesota Jr. Hockey League, drafted by a North American Hockey League Tier 3 team, is being recruited by Sarnia Legionnaires Jr. B and has been offered a scholarship with Finlandia University that is part of the NCAA Division III.
"I hope to be playing for the London Knights, that's every kids dream and I have the opportunity but I guess we'll see at the end of August"
Mini said "If not, playing in the North American or Legionnaires is still top leagues in the world or I have scholarship opportunities."
For the 2014-15 season Lambton Midget Head Coach Jonathan Taylor expects to see more players tryout this year over last year.
The Major Midget division has an open border policy that after Aug 23 a player can go play Midget anywhere in the Alliance and no release is necessary.
"I think Midget program is the best transition into Junior." Taylor said "I think they need that extra year in playing Major Midget as Players will get more ice time, get exposed to all situation, special teams and everything else."
The registration cost for AAA is slightly higher than Jr. however the Lambton AAA has a subsidized Midget program in place making it more attractive.
Tryouts for Lambton AAA Major Midget begins Sept 4, 2014. Tryout information will be available on www.lambtonjrsting.ca