CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Andrew Picco often heard it from the crowd when he visited Charlottetown during his junior career.
Now he hopes they embrace his game as part of the home team.
Picco has committed to the UPEI Panthers for the upcoming season after completing his five-year junior career that began in Rimouski and concluded in Quebec City.
“Most of the fans know, I’m kind a chippy player. I like to be in your face, I like talking a lot on the ice, kind of a physical, stay-at-home defenceman,” the 21-year-old Marystown, N.L., native said.
The six-foot-four, 220-pound blue-liner was part of the Quebec Remparts this season. The Charlottetown Islanders eliminated them in Game 7 of the first round.
“Their fans definitely got behind them. It showed this playoffs, they had a really good run,” Picco said.
He wore the brunt of the Isles fans taunts during the series as ‘Picco, Picco’ could often be heard when he stepped on the ice for a shift at the Eastlink Centre.
“They were definitely on me a bit,” Picco acknowledged. “Hopefully I can change their opinions of me next year.”
Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson said he’s happy to have Picco in the fold for the upcoming season.
“He’s a big, strong, physical, capable, nasty D,” he said, when asked what attracted him to Picco. “Part of our game plan during this off-season is to focus on our team identity and he brings the intangibles we want to bring as a team.”
MacPherson said the coaches put together a list of guys to target each year during the recruiting process. He will reach out to players and start the discussion with most moving slowly.
“There are some that kind of veer off into the fast lane, and the process becomes expedited,” he said, noting Picco falls into that category.
The Picco family is familiar with the Island.
They visited the province often during the summer as Picco attended the Andrews Hockey Growth Programs camps and his sister, Erin, is currently enrolled at UPEI.
Picco said he knows current and former Panthers Marcus Power and Kurt Etchegary but said a big influence in his decision to come to UPEI was his trainer, Ryan Power, who played for the Panthers from 1999-2000 to 2003-04.
The connections to the program don’t end there.
Picco was a rookie with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2013-14 when he was roommates with captain Ryan MacKinnon. The Summerside native just finished his university career with the Panthers.
The next season MacKinnon was with the Islanders and Picco and the Oceanic won the President Cup. It’s the highlight of the big defenceman’s five-year junior career that he admitted goes quick.
“When you’re only 20, 21 years old that’s a big part of (your life),” he said, but “I’m excited to get the next chapter started.”
Need to know
Who – A defenceman who was recently announced as one of the UPEI Panthers recruiting class for 2018-19.
Personal – Picco is a six-foot-four, 220-pound blue-liner. He is a 21-year-old Marystown, N.L., native.
Junior career statistics
Season GP G A Pts. PIM
2013-14 21 0 3 3 4
2014-15 59 3 12 15 28
2015-16 54 2 18 20 48
2016-17 36 0 7 7 23
2017-18 56 1 9 10 67