Donald Olivieri is right-handed defenseman from Philadelphia PA, who is currently playing for the Norfolk Admirals of the East Coast Hockey Leauge. He has also played for the Philadelphia Junior Flyers U18, Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL), Utica College (NCAA III), Quad City Storm (SPHL), and the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL). He sat down and chatted with Intern Mitch about his hockey career, best city he’s played in, and more.
IM: How did you first get involved in Ice Hockey? Family member introduce it to you? Saw it on TV? Or did it just kind of happen?
DO: My big brother played ice hockey for most of his life. I went to every single game, tournament, showcase and never missed watching him play. He motivated me to start playing and made me love the game.
IM: Where did you play in High School? Did you play for your High School or some other clubs?
DO: Growing up I played for multiple clubs, started playing Triple A hockey around 14 for the Philadelphia Little Flyers, went to Archbishop Ryan played all 4 years there. While playing high school I also played 18u for the Philadelphia Jr Flyers.
IM: What was it like playing in the NAHL? How did it differ from playing NCAA?
DO: The NA was a tough league, a ton of physicality, a ton of tough guys. It was a grind compared to NCAA, its all flow, barely any hitting. I enjoyed Juniors way more than college hockey.
IM: What did you major in in college? Was it tough being a player and student?
DO: Major was in Criminal Justice, to me it wasn’t hard, to be honest all I cared about was hockey and dedicated more time towards hockey than being a student.
IM: You’ve been around the ECHL and the SPHL. How do the two leagues differ?
DO: Skill level, size, creativity, patience and pace of the game is what separates the two leagues. The SP is a run and gun kind of play, no systems really. ECHL has systems they must follow from the affiliates (NHL teams) they are associated with.
IM: Through your career, where has your favorite place to play and why?
DO: Either Bismark in the NA or Missouri in the ECHL. Packed house every game, the environment was electric every single night.
IM: Longest bus ride you’ve ever taken, and how you passed the time?
DO: Man, I had some trips, had a two-week roadie in Rapid City but the ride home was 24 hours from Allen, Texas. Lots of cards and tons of sleep passed the time. Not much to do on the bus, but the boys make it go by somewhat quick.
IM: ECHL and SPHL teams do some pretty interesting jersey nights. Where was the most interesting one you’ve worn and what was it?
DO: Man, there has been so many, all the pink in the rink nights were probably my favorite, jersey just pop and make you feel good, knowing you’re playing for a good cause. Other than that, I really can’t think of anything crazy.
IM: Branded Sports wants to know, in your opinion, where is the best “party city”?
DO: Utica was a huge party city, especially the hockey team being big dogs on campus. Mississippi also was because we had Beale Street which was a mini Nashville. Pensacola was also a shit show haha. I was with them for two weeks, but it probably was the best two weeks of hockey I ever was a part of.
IM: We know your in the zone on the ice, but what is one thing fans do that slightly annoys you? Is it the constant “Shoot!” chant on the PP?
DO: Truthfully, we don’t hear much on the ice, every teams’ fans are going to have a chant and that doesn’t bother us but what does bother us is losing disappointing our own fans and not giving them what they pay for and that’s wins. Nothing is worse than loosing in front of your own fans.
IM: Offseason can be long for us fans, but what do you to pass the time over the summer?
DO: I work out a lot, play on 3 softball teams, play in softball tournaments on the weekends, golf a decent amount, foster dogs and try to get to the beach a few times over the summer.
IM: Best place to go on vacation and why?
DO: I go to the Jersey Shore a lot, but during season I go to Pensacola and Fort Myers during spring break and that is a sight to see.
IM: Have you ever wanted to play over seas or out of the United States? If you had to pick a place where would it be and why?
DO: No, I have not but if I could any where in Italy. One place I have always wanted to go, and I have a family there so it would be nice to meet them.
IM: Go to before game meal? How do you celebrate a big win?
DO: I just eat a lot of pasta the day of the game, win on a Saturday night usually go out with the boys and have a few drinks. Get a little wild since we work our dicks off all week.
IM: Mascots can be annoying, we all see what Gritty does to bug people, has a mascot ever rubbed you the wrong way?
DO: Haha no, they don’t really come near the players.
IM: Do you have any weird pregame rituals? Any equipment things you are particular about?
DO: Not weird but I don’t like to be bothered at all, like to go home after skate, make my meal, lay in bed and fall asleep to a show or movie then wake up, put on some music, get ready, and get to the rink. Stretch and play some sewer for the boys and get a quick chuckle watching the guys yell at each other.
I hate wet gloves, pretty sure every player does. Any chip on my stick I will need a new one, I just need everything to fit tight on me. Look good, feel good, play good.
IM: Would you ever try being a referee?
DO: Yeah, I looked into it, that’s also a process and kind of the same as playing pro, gotta work your way up.
IM: What’s your best memory so far playing ice hockey?
DO: That’s a tough one, personally going between my legs in overtime on a breakaway to win a game was a highlight of my career. Didn’t know I did it but I am glad it worked.
IM: Funniest moment you’ve had. Every play any pranks?
DO: Nothing I can think of off the top of my head. Every day is a great day with the boys, never a dull day.
IM: Put something to rest for us. Where is the best Cheesesteak?
DO: Best place for me is Philips down Passyunk Avenue, American with onions.