This will be Woods' third crack at being selected in the NHL Draft, while this weekend will mark the second time around for Privitera. Both players represented the Lumberjacks organization well in their freshman seasons at traditional Division I powers, so it makes sense NHL teams would be interested after they marinated in the college game.
Privitera, a 19-year-old New Jersey native, could've been excused for thinking he'd be able to step into the NCAAs and star right away. After all, he excelled in the USHL with the Lumberjacks in 2010-11, posting 34 points (10g, 24a) while logging major minutes on the blueline.
"Muskegon was huge for me because I played a lot more there than anywhere I had been before," Privitera said over the phone from the Boston University campus, where he is taking summer classes and tackling offseason workouts. "Without that year with the Lumberjacks, I wouldn't have been able to do as well as I did as a freshman."
To Privitera's credit, he knew that an adjustment period would be needed to meld into the Terriers program. After a few healthy scratches early in the season and some time to figure out the way BU head coach Jack Parker likes his team to play, he was able to work his way into a regular role on defense.
"I did a lot of watching early on," said the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Privitera. "The transition from the USHL to college hockey was more about style of play than anything else. People worry about not being strong enough, but I thought it was more difficult to get used to the quick decisions that need to be made."
"Hockey East is more of a puck possession league, so it was definitely a learning curve for me. It got better as the year went along but it was never easy."
His assimilation into college hockey may not have been simple, but it went well enough for him to be named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team after scoring four goals and grabbing eight assists, all in conference play. However, just as he was getting comfortable in coach Parker's lineup, he suffered a broken wrist that held him out of action from Jan. 27 to Feb. 24, a span of seven games.
|Privitera persevered through|
injury to play 25 games for
Not long after Privitera returned, the Terriers (23-15-1, 17-9-1 Hockey East) confronted New Hampshire (and Lumberjacks alumnus Casey Thrush) in a Hockey East best-of-three semifinal series, eventually winning Game 3 in overtime after a startling multi-goal comeback.
But BU finished the season with back-to-back losses, dropping the conference title game to Maine (featuring former Jacks captain John Parker) and then coming up short against Minnesota in the NCAA tournament's West Regional. For a program like Boston University that has won five national championships and has made 21 Frozen Four appearances, a finish like this spring's is mostly disappointing.
"We obviously didn't get where we want to go, but our captains (Chris Connelly, Justin Courtnall, Alex Chiasson) did a great job holding everything together and working hard," Privitera said. "Coach Parker is awesome, too. Some people say he's intimidating but he knows how to get the best out of everyone. He's an essential part to our success."
As Privitera learned well before going to BU, offseason preparation is an significant building block of success as well. While most modern dry-land training programs share similarities, he said the personality of Lumberjacks Assistant Coach Dave Noel-Bernier made Muskegon stand out from the rest.
"'Bernie' was a great motivator for me," Privitera said. "He was there for me and gave me confidence. He helped a lot in watching video and scouting opponents before games."
Clearly being selected in the NHL Draft would be a boost to Privitera's self-esteem, but Alexx hasn't heard too much about his potential to see his name pop up on NHL Network Saturday. Nonetheless, Ian Altenbaugh at Hockey's Future raves about his skating ability, great hands, vision and distribution ability.
Those attributes figure to make him a fixture on the BU power play for years to come, as well as make him attractive for pro teams down the line, and maybe even this weekend.