Bitetto: Laughing and Learning

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Photo Credit: Scott Paulus

One of the better stories this season has been the evolution of Ads defenseman Anthony Bitetto. Through twenty-four games this season he has eight goals and six assists which ties him for third best on the team in points with center Austin Watson. As the league stands today, Bitetto is among the top twenty defenseman across the entire AHL in scoring. To think that exactly this time last year he wasn’t even playing in Milwaukee.

Bitetto began his first full professional season with the Admirals last year. He suited up for five games, only registered one shot on goal, and had nine penalty minutes to his name. On 11/12/12, the Ads decided to send him down to the Cincinnati Cyclones in favor of current Admirals teammate and linemate Charles Roussel. Bitetto would go on to play twenty-three games as a member of the Cyclones where he would produce one goal, two assists, and registered sixteen penalty minutes. It wasn’t until 1/7/13 when Bitetto received his call back up to the Ads.

Anthony Bitetto on his time in Cincinnati last season:

When he did return to Milwaukee his game greatly picked up. Upon his return in January, he picked up his first AHL point (an assist) two games after his recall and tallied two more assists to close out the month. February, eight more games – two more assists. Then came a fairly rough month of March for Bitetto where he was a -6 skater through eight contests. The silver lining to that month came by the way of his first AHL goal – scored on the power-play.

Bitetto on his power-play success this season – where he has scored five of his eight goals:

While the rest of his season might have tailed off from that moment – where this story really seems to pick up is in the offseason. Bitetto was asked by the team to trim down in body weight. When he showed up to camp this pre-season – he exceeded expectations by how good of shape he was in.

Mike Liambas, Bitetto’s teammate in both Milwaukee and Cincinnati, shared his thoughts on Anthony’s progress:

From pre-season practice right into the start of this season the change of Bitetto’s game is incredibly evident. His skating ability looks vastly improved. He looks and plays the game far faster than he did last season. And, the icing on the cake, his offensive results speak for themself.

Dean Evason on Bitetto’s progress:

Bitetto about improving his game this season:

What also adds to the rate of development for Bitetto are fellow defenseman Scott Ford, Joe Piskula, and Bryan Rodney – all veteran hockey minds of the defensive core. With Ford, there is a leader to learn from and a gritty defensive nature to understudy. With Piskula, there is a two-way game from the defense to the blue line that can really translate well into his game. With Rodney, Bitetto can also hone in on the offensive side of the puck from a defenseman that makes sharp passes and goal-scoring opportunities while quarterbacking power-plays. The examples are all there for him to learn from.

Bitetto on learning from veterans (while Joe Piskula definitely does not troll on the answer to such a question):

In that last clip you get a taste of something I hear a lot whilst doing player interviews – Anthony Bitetto laughing. There are plenty of great personalities on this Admirals hockey team. Few seem to always be as upbeat and jokey as the New York native.

Evason on Bitetto’s personality:

Bitetto on having fun:

With still well over half the season to play, it is exciting to see where and how far Bitetto’s season can take him. The tools are all there. His ability and willingness to learn from those around him and apply them quickly to his game is fantastic. His goal is to continually improve and see this team reach the playoffs for a twelfth-consecutive season. If Bitetto continues to improve – I imagine the team would accomplish just that.

What are your thoughts on Anthony Bitetto this season?

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