International experience helps Braves goalie develop

Marcello De Antunano of the Spokane Braves has dual citizenship with the U.S. and Mexico. Marcello has played with Team Mexico the past two years on its under-18 squad at the IIHF World Championships (Division 3). Photo courtesy of Spokane Braves Facebook page.

SPOKANE, Wash.-Marcello De Antunano’s growth as a goalie is the result of two factors.


The 17-year-old Spokane Brave has benefited from playing on the international stage with Mexico. Born to Mexican parents, who taught him Spanish, the Irving, Tex., native described playing for the Mexican under-18 team as unreal.


“I cherished every minute I was with that team. It’s an experience I will never forget,” says De Antunano, who has dual citizenship. “I get chills every time I think about it. It’s a different type of hockey.”


De Antunano says each game in the tournament is personal – everyone wants to win and move up to the next division. Singing the national anthem after every win is the best feeling.


“Everytime we hear our anthem, we know we are one step closer to getting to the top and live the dream of playing in the top division,” wrote De Antunano in an email.


De Antunano hopes to be Mexico’s starter for the 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships Division III in Bulgaria, Jan.13-19 and hopes to go to Iceland with the men’s team.


Helping him make the jump to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) was playing a season with the Calgary Buffalo Hockey Association Rangers.


“I had never made a AAA or AA team before the Rangers, but last season my coach Drake Brown took a chance on me and I am forever grateful,” he says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Practices always pushed me to get better, the workouts helped me get stronger throughout the season, and we had a great goalie coach that the association provided. He helped me progress a lot as a goalie. My coach went above and beyond to make sure we were getting exposure to junior A and junior B, so it really was the perfect team to help me jump to junior hockey.”


De Antunano learned about the KIJHL through Brown, a Fernie Ghostriders scout. The two had many conversations about the league and finding him a team. De Antunano has been sharing the crease with Kamloops’ Riley McLean and feels he is off to a good start. He is getting better every practice, workout and game.


“I just know I’m only going to get better as the season progresses,” he says. “I’ve had to adjust to the amount of shots I receive per game and the speed. I just need to improve everything all around to make a push to the next level (junior A/National Collegiate Athletic Association).”


It’s about placing focus on the little details that can make a big difference for his game.


De Antunano is driven to keep developing and win for the Braves.


“I’d love to go all the way to Cyclone (Taylor) Cup. I want to make enough noise in the league that scouts notice me and offer me a chance to commit to a junior A team.”