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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Santorelli finding his niche with Jets

Posted: 04/18/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 04/18/2013 9:24 AM | Updates

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Five games into his stint with the Winnipeg Jets, centre Mike Santorelli seems to fit like he's always been here.

Claimed via waivers from the Florida Panthers on April 2, the 27-year-old Vancouver native has been matched to a line with left-winger Eric Tangradi and centre Alex Burmistrov.

It may not be a permanent combination but it's been more than useful as the Jets have won the first four games of their six-game homestand.

It was continued Tuesday night as Santorelli and Andrew Ladd scored shootout goals to help the Jets win 4-3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I was pretty nervous going into it," said Santorelli. "I just kind of stuck with what I knew and luckily it went in."

Luck hasn't been everything, though. Santorelli is a career 10 for 19 in the shootout.

"We knew all that stuff," Jets coach Claude Noel said about his new forward's shootout abilities. "We do our homework. He's been skating well. He's been playing well for us.

"He's got some good chemistry, good forecheck. He's done some good things for our team, past the shootout. He's a guy who has shown he can score at this level."

Santorelli had 20 goals for the Panthers two seasons ago.

It's the second time in his career he's changed franchises. A Nashville pick in 2004, he played for the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals and the NHL Predators but went to the Panthers in 2010.

"It's part of the business," said the veteran of 203 NHL games. "You're here one day .... I was very fortunate with the move. Things weren't working out there so I'm happy I was getting picked up by a good team like this, especially at an exciting time of year right now.

"The guys here are great. They've been helping me out all along, giving me information. The coaching staff as well.

"Last night was a big win and I'm glad we got the two points."

Tuesday's game was the most Noel has used the Santorelli-Burmistrov, Tangradi line in the short time they've been together.

"To go out there and just do what you do best, play responsible, and play hard, well, those two guys have been great as well," Santorelli said. "They've really helped me out.

"Again, it's communication and what should happen here and there. Been really great with those two."

He had just two goals for Florida this season, in 24 games, before the team waived him but there was little issue for him in the transition to the Jets.

"I think we play with a lot of speed here," he said. "But right now, every team's tightening up defensively and the mindset is to play with a lot of speed."

Before the NHL returned to action in January, Santorelli played briefly for Tingsryds AIF in Sweden.

"I had some fun," he said. "I went to go play with my brother (younger brother Mark). That was one of the reasons I went, but obviously to stay sharp, too."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 18, 2013 D3

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Updated on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM CDT: adds fact box

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