Approaching the season, there’s been no shortage of hype surrounding freshman forward Adam Fantilli.
As one of the premier players in the Michigan hockey team’s new freshman class, the expectations for Fantilli are set high — really high. And it beckons an anticipation of expeditious success.
A projected top three pick in the 2023 NHL draft, the mythos of Fantilli continues to grow before he’s even played a game. Tales of a wicked shot, pro-level skating and a two-way compete level projects a player that could dominate college hockey. Before even playing a single game for the Wolverines, Fantilli already received preseason Big Ten second team honors.
Despite the extensive hype, he tries to play it down.
“Those things are predictions,” Fantilli said. “Expectations will be expectations. Social media will be social media, right? So, you try to block it out as much as you can and play your game with all the guys.”
While Fantilli’s humility is apparent, his game is exactly what has so many salivating — even Michigan coach Brandon Naurato.
“He can shoot it like Brisson, he competes and has a two way game like Beniers, he’s got hands and vision like Bordeleau, he’s special,” Naurato said.
Nevertheless, for Fantilli to truly succeed, patience — not pressure — is what will allow him to blossom.
Often, it’s easy to get caught up in the flash and esteem of such a talented player. The Chicago Steel product comes with a laundry list of highlight tape, but expecting him to immediately step in and save a program that lost extensive professional talent last season is unreasonable.
After all, he’s just getting started in his collegiate career.
“The first time we stepped on the ice, the first thing I noticed was the strength,” Fantilli said. “The physicality level of practice, we really push the pace out there.”
The seventeen year old undoubtedly has room to grow. But he also deserves the benefit of the doubt if he doesn’t instantaneously take the college game by storm. Especially considering he will, at times, compete against players with years more of experience.
Only recently draft eligible, it’s impossible to predict what the process may look like for him to fully settle into the college hockey environment — regardless of his talent level.
A testament to his character though, Fantilli continues to look past the labels. For now, he’s relishing in the Wolverines’ team chemistry.
“We really focus on being a team and being a family,” Fantilli said. “So that’s something that we’ve really emphasized this year and something I really think we’re all taking to heart.”
Fantilli may hold the weight of Michigan’s expectations on his shoulders, but his decision to pursue NCAA hockey over the more traditional Canadian route meant he knew the path he was going to take.
A path he’s excited to play.
“(You) try to contribute as much as you can to your team and your role throughout the season,” Fantilli said. “Hopefully at the end of the year we’re accomplishing (the) goals that we want.”
The goals may be lofty after a Frozen Four run last season, but for Fantilli, the emphasis is his team — and what they can do as a unit.