For more community-driven stories, visit our archive.
baranzelli finds home the sydney ice dogs
Paul Baranzelli is now an elder statesman in the Sydney Ice Dogs hockey team at only 32 years of age even though he is only in his second year of play in the AIHL.
Born in Minnesota in the US and coming to Australia to be with his New Zealand-born wife, Baranzelli has been sitting out since making his AIHL debut in 2009 with the Sydney Bears because he has been waiting for his permanent residency to be processed.
“I played for the Bears in the season of 2009 when I came down here and I was talking to Ronnie [Ice Dogs coach Kuprowsky] at the beginning of this year because I finally got my permanent residency,” Baranzelli said. “He asked me to come out and I thought it was a great way to get a fresh start. I know some of the guys from Summer League and the International Hockey League like Bert [Malloy], Richie [Tesarik], I played with Gabe [Robledo] and Rhodesy [Joel Rhodes] at the Bears so I knew a couple of the guys.”
Baranzelli has played five matches for the team since making his Ice Dogs debut against the North Stars in Newcastle, in which he scored a goal, which settled the nerves after two seasons out of the top grade.
“Having played in the East Coast comp, this is a bit quicker,” Baranzelli commented. “I played defense that game, which was good because it allowed me to get into it. I mean I’m available for wherever they need me but it was great to get that first goal wearing the Dogs jersey and hopefully there are a couple more to come.”
Baranzelli is a versatile player, able to play both offence and defense due to being moved around as a junior.
“I grew up playing forward and then, when I was in 9th year or second year of bantams I was moved back to defense. I played defense all through high school and juniors but I always had the mentality of a forward so I would always be jumping up in the play,” Baranzelli said. “I like being forward more, you’re more involved, you’re more into it but I don’t mind playing D because I play wherever I can help out the team. So basically I do wherever they need me and try and help out the team as much as I can.”
As a junior, Baranzelli played at a high level, playing for the Iron Range Yellow Jackets in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, where he tallied 56 points in 35 games before he played for the Sun Valley Suns for eight seasons and scored 103 goals in 146 games for the team. Having come from a hockey mad country, Baranzelli said that the AIHL seemed to run the league “pretty well” compared to others he has played in overseas. “The league is good but I’ve been out of the league too long but I try not to get too caught up in the political part of it,” he said. “For the most part, I think it’s a pretty good league. But I try to stay out of that and do what they ask of me on the ice.”
In his day job, Baranzelli works for a construction company, is a member of the West Tigers in the NRL and enjoys spending time with his young son Luka and wife Katherine.
He also said that while he was happy with his start to the season, he was looking forward to adding to his tally this season.
Reprinted with permission from the author and hewittsports.com.