Oklahoma City Barons forward Steve Pinizzotto's game is built around finishing checks and playing physical.
“I grew up the youngest child. I used to get beat up a lot,” Pinizzotto said. “That's where I got it from.”
Unlike most physical enforcers in hockey, Pinizzotto supplies some offense. A 29-year-old veteran with 258 games of American Hockey League experience, Pinizzotto played on back-to-back Calder Cup title teams.
The Barons, who host the Toronto Marlies at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cox Convention Center, acquired Pinizzotto in a trade with San Antonio for Ryan Martindale.
“It's tough when you lose buddies in a trade, but that's part of hockey,” said Oklahoma City goaltender Richard Bachman. “(Pinizzotto) is the type of player that gives you energy. He brings a little spark, a little grit. That's huge for us. He's played in a lot of games in a lot of different situations.”
In his seventh pro season, Pinizzotto played on Hershey's back-to-back AHL championship teams in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
In addition to scoring a combined 83 points those two seasons, Pinizzotto posted a plus-40 rating the first title season, which ranked third in the AHL. He's scored 117 career AHL points.
“The game has changed some (toward skill players), but there are still a lot of players that play a heavy game,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “He's a player that plays with sandpaper and grit. But he's also a good player.”
Hampered by an injury, Pinizzotto's ice time was spotty with San Antonio. With the Barons, the Toronto native can provide leadership on a young team.
“No one really likes to get hit,” said Barons defenseman Brad Hunt. “When there are guys running you into the boards it's not fun. But it's fun to play with a guy like that. Every team needs guys like that on their team.”
Because of his physical style, Pinizzotto often is key member on penalty-kill units.
“When the other team is on the power play, they usually have their best players on the ice,” Pinizzotto said. “If you get out of position, that's when the puck is in the back of your net. You have to play smart. It's always about timing and good positioning. That's something I take pride in, my overall game.”
Pinizzotto was called up for nearly a month by Washington four seasons ago but was always a healthy scratch. He never officially played in a game with the Capitals. He made his long awaited NHL debut last season, playing in 12 games with the Vancouver Canucks.
“Every day I try to move forward so I can get another shot at the NHL. Ultimately that's where everyone wants to be,” Pinizzotto said. “I'm looking for the best chance possible. Hopefully this works out for me. But you can't look too far ahead. Your focus has to be working hard every day.”