By Jerry Del Priore
A local hockey player is one step closer to his NHL dream after the Ottawa Senators selected 18-year-old Shane Pinto — a former Aviator Hockey player, and Franklin Square, Long Island, native — in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2019 NHL draft.
The six-foot-two, 192-pound center skated for four years at Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn, playing up until U-16.
“I couldn’t be more excited for Shane and his family,” Chris Werstine — Director of Ice Operations at Aviator Sports and Events Center, and President of the Aviator Hockey Club — said in a press release. “Shane was one of the most coachable players I’ve ever had. Out of the players I’ve had that either had been drafted or played in the NHL, he is definitely the best all-around person I’ve ever coached.
“Not arrogant, a true student of the game,” Werstine continued. “A player like Shane getting drafted means so much to this organization. Shane is a representation of what Aviator Hockey is all about. We are hoping that our guys now can look to Shane Pinto as a goal. They are getting the same development and training. All it takes for them is to put in the work that Shane did.”
The Aviator Hockey Club has been on the rise since that 2015-2016 squad that Shane played on and it was the progression of players from U-16 that lead to Aviator Hockey Club to purchase a junior hockey team to play in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL).
Pinto also played for the Tri-City Storm and Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League, the top junior hockey association sanctioned by USA Hockey, scoring 28 goals and registering 31 assists in 56 contests during the 2018-19 season.
Aviator Sports and Events Center is located at Floyd Bennett Field, 3159 Flatbush Avenue. For more information, visit AviatorSports.com or call 718-758-7500.