Here’s a small addition to the blog featuring Lou Nanne’s reaction to being with family in Detroit on Friday to witness grandson Vinni Lettieri scoring a goal for the New York Rangers in his first NHL game.
Vinni was not taken in the NHL draft as an 18-year-old, and didn’t become a true standout for the Gophers until his senior season in 2016-17, and here he was in the NHL less than halfway through his first full pro season.
That’s a nice underdog story.
There’s another hockey-playing grandson fulfilling an underdog story:
Tyler Nanne, in his first season as a Gophers defenseman. He accepted a scholarship to Ohio State, but was diagnosed with Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, in the summer of 2015 and went through 15 months of recovery before being cleared for hockey.
It was such a health scare that Grandpa Lou said of Tyler on Friday, “We almost lost him.’’
Tyler transferred to Minnesota during that time and missed the 2016-17 season. His prospects for playing time were uncertain at the start of the 2017-18 schedule, but Tyler has found regular duty on defense and has scored a couple of goals.
On Saturday, I asked Brian Deutsch, the sports information contact for men’s hockey, to ask Nanne about Lettieri’s goal and this was Tyler’s response:
“It was a really exciting time for our family. He’s worked so hard and he deserves every bit of it. It’s a bummer that I couldn’t get to watch the game, but when I was on the ice with about eight minutes left in the game, they announced [the Lettieri goal] to the whole crowd, and actually that shift, I went down and hit the crossbar.
“It would have been pretty cool to both score, but I’m really happy for him. It’s a dream come true for him and his family, and I’m excited to watch him in games in the future.’’
The Rangers next game is Monday in the NHL Winter Classic, so Tyler will have keeping track of his cousin Vinni in his second big-league game.