The Twin City Thunder hope forward Anthony Cinato can keep creating offense at the Tier II level.

The Auburn-based team announced Monday that it signed Cinato to a United States Premier Hockey League National Collegiate Development Conference tender. The 20-year-old had 28 goals and 55 assists in 44 games with the Metro Jets of the USPHL’s Premier League. The 83 regular season points ranked sixth in league.

Cinato is entering his final season of junior hockey eligibility and had some NCAA offers for next season, but he wants to give Tier II hockey a go before moving on to the college level.

“Some colleges were perusing me pretty hard,” Cinato said. “In the end, I want to bet on myself and really work hard to get stronger and get ready for the next level.”

The Thunder have already have seen a little of what Cinato can do at the NCDC level. The Metro Jets were one of Twin City’s Premier League affiliates this year, and the Thunder called him up for a game against the Utica Jr. Comets on Nov. 22. Cinato had no points, but the Thunder won 6-2, and the organization’s owner and new coach Dan Hodge liked what he saw from Cinato.

“I thought he had a really good game, I thought he was a player who made stuff happen on the ice,” Hodge said. “Certain players you notice on a game-by-game basis, that make things happen. He was one of those players, he made something happen every time he stepped on the ice.”

Hodge said the was no real discussion of keeping Cinato on the roster for the remainder of the season because he has great respect for Metro Jets general manager and head coach Justin Quenneville.

Cinato enjoyed his brief time with the Thunder last fall.

“When I was out there, the community was great, a lot of fans were coming to the games,” Cinato said. “It absolutely makes the choice a lot easier. Getting a game under my belt and meeting the coaches, it was definitely huge.”

Cinato said he appreciated the time he spent with the Metro Jets and that the organization made him into a better person off the ice as well as a better hockey player.

 

Hodge expects Cinato to be a key player next year with the Thunder. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound forward from Warren, Michigan, has 51 goals and 78 goals in 86 Premier League games, from 2018-2020. He also tallied 38 points (11 goals and 27 assists) in 42 North American 3 Hockey League games during the 2017-18 season.

“Coming from a program which has great tradition such as the Metro Jets, I am expecting a player to come in and be a leader right away,” Hodge said. “He’s a 2000 (birth year), I am expecting him to come in here and contribute offensively and defensively, all over the ice. I am excited about him.”

Cinato becomes the second tender the Thunder have signed for next season. In January, the team announced the signing of Matus Hadusovsky of the Springfield Jr. Pics 16U team. He had 41 goals and 26 assists in 27 games. He was named the MVP of the USPHL 16U all-star game.

A tender is a contract that gives a team a player’s USPHL NCDC rights, and the player cannot be drafted or signed by another NCDC team. The player, however, can sign with another team in another junior league.


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