Vecchione: 'They want you for a reason'

On Sunday night, former Malden Catholic hockey standout Mike Vecchione ended his recruitment, again, picking Union College after he'd withdrawn his previous commitment to UNH.

The 5-foot-11 winger will land with the Dutchmen in 2013.

The Saugus native talked to ESPN Boston today about his decision, life in the United States Hockey League and his offseason baseball exploits:

On what swayed his decision to Union: “I think it was just the way they came after me. About a month after I decommitted, I got a call from one of their assistant coaches. I always wanted to go to a school that wants me there, not just another guy on the team. From February on, that’s what gave them the edge and came after me really hard. They had a really successful season last year and they’re only going up from here.”

On the program's success last season: “Obviously, they were one of the better teams in the nation last year. I like what they do out there. They have the mentality that 'We not just going to go out there and get a bunch of guys and then see what works.' They want guys to come in and play their role. They want you for a reason. They want me to be a goal scorer and play my game. It's a beautiful campus, a beautiful school, so that made the decision really easy.”

On Union head coach Rick Bennett: “Rick Bennett’s a straightforward guy. He’s going to tell you exactly what’s on his mind. He put it out there that they’re going to need to pick up the slack for the players that are leaving, [Jeremy] Welsh, [Kelly] Zajac, they're going to need to pick up some of the slack with scoring. I think he’s a great guy, very straightforward with me. That’s the kind of guy that I want to play for.”

On what he learned playing in the USHL last season: “I think the long season helped me out, playing a 60-game season, it’s a tough season. It’s a grind, every day you’re working out and traveling, that’s going to help me with the college game. There’s no bad team in that league, you’re playing against top players, even in practice. It takes a toll on you, but it’s only made me stronger.”

On his offseason: “I've been getting my regular USHL workouts in. But I've been skating with [Chicago Blackhawks skating coach] Paul Vincent. I've played in the Senior Babe Ruth League the last couple of years [in Saugus]. But I’ll be 20 next year, so this was my last year. I think I’ll be general manager next year. But it's fun playing baseball in the summer, bunch of kids I grew up playing with. It's a good way to break things up."