NHL Prospect Growing as a Leader

He's labeled as one of the hardest working players on the Western Michigan hockey team, but he's quiet about it letting his play on the ice speak for itself. After leading the Broncos in scoring his first two seasons Vince Bellissimo was named an assistant captain for this season, a roll he's growing into.

"If you look at our three captains," said head coach Jim Culhane. "Pat Dwyer is probably the most vocal, and Vince Bellissimo is probably the quietest."

Culhane added, "he really tries in his leadership qualities to lead by example by his work ethic. He continues to be one of the hardest working guys and that's where he feels comfortable in how he leads."

"My roll is to go out there and work as hard as I can and hope the rest of the team follows," said Bellissimo. "I'm not vocal, but I'm not too quiet. My main thing as a captain is I try to go out there and work as hard as I can."

That quiet, hard-working assistant captain is also an NHL prospect drafted by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round of the 2002 draft – the summer before he even got to campus.

"I think those camps are great to go down to Florida and see what it's like to be in an NHL atmosphere," said Bellissimo. "I've been to two of those camps and I think I've done real well there and that carries over into the season."

"For any guy that goes to those camps it's a great learning experience for them," added Culhane. "You can't take a night, a game, or a shift off and that's something they're exposed to. It helps them as players."

Prior to being drafted Bellissimo made plenty of headlines in junior hockey as he developed his game en route to his current college career.

The native of Toronto, Ontario played for his hometown St. Mike's Buzzers of the OPJHL, a team several Broncos have now gone through to get to WMU. While at St. Mike's Vince would set team records for assists (64) and points (96) in a season and end up in the OPJHL All-Star game and win a team MVP award.

It was that season that Bellissimo was recruited to and accepted a full-ride scholarship to play for Culhane's club. "It was my third year of juniors and there wasn't a lot of offers. To have a school like this come after you with the facilities and they were the #4 team in the nation when they were talking to me was great. So it was an easy decision for me to choose WMU," said Bellissimo. "The school has a great reputation."

But Bellissimo had another year of junior hockey before joining WMU so he left Toronto to continue development opting to play Tier 1 Junior A in the USHL. "I had broken some records in [the OPJHL] and I didn't want to leave that team," said Bellissimo. "But I thought it was best for my development to move on to a league that was at a more elite level. "

Landing on an expansion team – the Topeka Scarecrows – Bellissimo would again set high standards. He scored the first goal in franchise history, an honor he lists as his "biggest thrill in hockey" so far. He led his team in scoring with 76 points, was awarded the Top Forward Award in the USHL, and was once again named Team MVP.

Now in his third season at WMU Vince has the pleasure of doing something not many other hockey players get to do. Play in the same ice as his brother, Daniel Bellissimo who has started in all but one game this season in net for the Broncos.

"It's great," said Vince. "At the beginning of the year I was a little bit nervous because he's my brother, but now that he's adjusted [to the college game] you can see the way he's been playing."

And what about Vince's goals for this season? "Our goal is pretty simple," said Bellissimo. "To win a championship and that's all there is to it."

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