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Mike Santorelli in the hall: Ex-Northern Michigan University, pro hockey player named to NMU Sports Hall of Fame

Mike Santorelli breaks away with the puck for Northern Michigan University as University of Toronto's Joe Rand pursues him during their game at the Berry Event Center in Marquette on Sept. 30, 2006. (Journal file photo)

“Northern Michigan will always be a special place to me and one where memories, friendships and experiences will last a lifetime.”

— Mike Santorelli, former player, NMU hockey

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MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University will induct five individuals and a team into its NMU Sports Hall of Fame this year.

But due to COVID-19 there will not be an in-person induction ceremony this year. Instead, these inductees will join the 2021 Homecoming celebration and induction class, according to a recent sports news release from the university.

One selection this year is Mike Santorelli of the Wildcats’ hockey team.

Mike Santorelli, left, of the Northern Michigan University hockey team skates past Western Michigan's Jim McNamara in the second game of their CCHA playoff series on March 13, 2005, at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal file photo) WMU 2-Jim McNamara Second game of CCHA Playoffs (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)

“I am extremely honored and proud to have been inducted into the NMU Sports Hall of Fame,” Santorelli said in the news release. “Northern Michigan was an instrumental part of both my personal life and hockey career. (This was) a program which provided (me) the necessary guidance, development and coaching to excel both on and off of the ice and ultimately fulfill my childhood dream of having a career in the National Hockey League.”

Santorelli was a three-year letter-winner for Northern from 2004-07, where he played 121 games and scored 61 goals with 49 assists for 110 points, the release noted. He also recorded 22 power play goals.

His first year in 2004-05 he tallied 16 goals and 14 assists, then followed it with 15 goals and 18 assists in 2005-06. His third season saw him score 30 goals, 11 coming off the power play. He also added 17 assists. His 2006-07 junior season saw him earn All-CCHA First Team after earning a spot on the league’s Rookie Team.

“I am extremely blessed and grateful to have played with not only elite-level hockey players but first-class teammates as well throughout my time at NMU,” Santorelli said in the news release. “Northern Michigan will always be a special place to me and one where memories, friendships and experiences will last a lifetime.”

Following his junior season, he signed with the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators that began a 10-year professional career. He started with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League from 2008-10 and appeared in 150 games with 48 goals and 64 assists while making 32 appearances with the NHL’s Predators.

Mike Santorelli While playing at Northern Michigan University

“I’ve been around the program a long time, as a player, assistant coach and a head coach, and I’ve never coached a better person than Mike,” said Walt Kyle, his NMU head coach. “I’ve never seen a better goal scorer, never had a more dominant player than he was. He was at the level of the very best we’ve ever had here.

“He came here at a young age and developed very quickly. He had the ability to take over and absolutely control a game. If he would have played his senior year, I have no doubt he would have been a great threat to challenge the (NMU) single-season goal record.”

He moved on to the Florida Panthers for the next two seasons, 2010-12, and finished with 29 goals and 23 assists while appearing in 142 games. During the 2011-12 season, Santorelli helped the Panthers reach the NHL playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.

After playing four games in Sweden, he returned to the Panthers for another 24 games in the 2012-13 campaign. Later that same season, he played seven games with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL before playing 10 games for the Winnipeg Jets.

The 2013-14 season saw him play in 49 games with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring 10 goals with 18 assists. In 2014-15, he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and tallied 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games before returning to the Predators for 22 games.

The Florida Panthers' Mike Santorelli celebrates after scoring during the second period of an NHL game against the Jets in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Nov. 10, 2011. (AP file photo)

Then in 2015-16, he finished his NHL career with 70 games for the Anaheim Ducks where he recorded nine goals and nine assists. His professional career came to a close during the 2016-17 season after six games with the Geneve Servette squad of Switzerland National League A.

During his professional career, he amassed 64 goals with 74 assists in over 400 games played.

After retiring from hockey, Santorelli has settled in the western Canadian city of Burnaby, British Columbia, where he continued his education at the University of British Columbia and obtained his degree in urban land economics.

He also serves as the head coach of the Under-18 prep team at the Burnaby Winter Club Hockey Academy. He also created Santorelli Hockey Development alongside his brother, Mark, which focuses on providing player development in the greater Vancouver area.

“I think, first of all, any time you are inducted into a hall of fame, it’s a great honor,” Kyle said. “Mike comes from a close family, a proud family. They know the role NMU played in his life and career and know the honor it is to be inducted into the NMU Sports Hall of Fame.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Mike Santorelli celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of an NHL game on Dec. 29, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP file photo)

“His teammates and everyone that was around him know what a great player he was and certainly all of us knew he’d be inducted. It wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ he’d be inducted, it was a matter of ‘when.’

“I was blessed to be associated with him.”

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

Northern Michigan University's Mike Santorelli, center, reaches for the puck after a faceoff during a game against Lake Superior State at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Feb. 2, 2007. (Journal file photo)

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