To say Vinni Lettieri is a home-grown player for the Minnesota Golden Gophers is an understatement. He not only played high school hockey down the road in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka, but the senior forward’s Maroon and Gold roots run deep.
His grandfather is the legendary Lou Nanne, a former Gophers All-American, a former player, coach and general manager of the Minnesota North Stars and a long-time representative of USA Hockey. His uncle Marty Nanne also played for the Gophers and his cousin, Tyler Nanne, is Letteri’s current teammate. Lettieri’s father Tino played professional soccer for 11 seasons including a four-year stint with the Minnesota Kicks of the North American Soccer League.
Lettieri’s own Gophers hockey career reached new heights on Saturday when his penalty shot goal and first career hat trick led No. 9 Minnesota’s weekend sweep of Michigan with a 4-2 win. His effort earned him ASN Men's Player of the Week honors.
Minnesota (13-5-2 overall, 5-1-0 Big Ten) has won six consecutive games, tying its school record since Big Ten Hockey was formed four years ago. The Gophers have won eight of their last nine contests entering this weekend’s border battle showdown at longtime rival Wisconsin.
Lettieri ranks third on the Gophers in shots on net with 60 and has 11 goals (career high) and nine assists for the season. His other goals came on the power play and an empty-netter.
Since scoring two goals and six assists in 37 games as a freshman his production has gone up every year. As a junior, he had nine goals and three assists in 37 games and as a junior seven goals and 19 assists in 37 games.
Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu. Follow him on Twitter at @DakotaHi.