OHL grad Neil Conway left the ECHL for Italy mid January and is making a difference between the pipes for HC Valpellice. The alumnus of the Owen Sound Attack and Oshawa Generals started the 2015-16 season in the ECHL with the Cincinnati Cyclones.
After seeing limited action, he jumped the Atlantic, signing on January 8. Conway is joined on the roster by fellow OHL grad Stefan Della Rovere. The coach of the Bulldogs is a bit of a NHL goaltending legend.
Conway played five years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2004-05 to 2008-09. He was drafted by the Owen Sound Attack in the fourth round of the 2004 OHL Priority Selection, 76th overall. Neil played his first four years with Owen Sound and his final season with the Oshawa Generals.
In 2007-08, Conway appeared in just one game for the Attack before heading to his native United States to play for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. He returned for 2008-09 and was the number one goalie with the Generals.
Undrafted to the National Hockey League, Conway spent three years at St. Mary’s University. In 2009-10, Neil was named to the CIS All-Rookie Team and St. Mary’s won the national title. In 2010-11, he was an AUS First Team All-Star and a CIS All-Canadian Second Team All-Star.
Conway has played pro hockey since 2012-13 in the CHL, EIHL, the U.K.’s EIHL and the Lega Italiana Hockey su Ghiaccio. In 2014-15, he played 20 games for the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL as a backup to Jeff Lerg. Toledo finished first overall in the league.
Neil played an additional six games in the Kelly Cup playoffs as the Walleye reached the East Conference finals before losing in seven to the South Carolina Stingrays. Toledo was outscored just 25-24 on the series. They dropped the first three games before storming back to force a game seven. Four of the seven games were decided in overtime, including the final three games of the series.
This season with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Conway put up decent numbers in his six games with a 3.29 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. In his nine games so far with Valpellice, Neil’s put up a 2.93 GAA and .923 save percentage.
HC Valpellice Bulldogs
Currently, the team is sitting seventh in the eight team LIHG Serie A with room to move up. The club was last promoted from Serie A2 for the 2009-10 season and reached the finals in 2012-13. Home games are played at the Palaghiaccio Olimpico di Torre Pellice in Torre Pellice, Italy. The venue opened in 2005 and seats 2,500.
Stefan Della Rovere is the only other Ontario Hockey League grad on the roster at this time. Della Rovere played four years in the OHL from 2006-07 to 2009-10, all with the Barrie Colts. 2015-16 is his first year with HC Valpellice.
Head Coach Tom Barrasso took over from OHL alumnus Pat Curcio on November 10, 2015. Barrasso left his post as goaltending coach with the KHL’s HC Slovan Bratislava to take the position with Valpellice. Tom was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.