By Jim den Hollander
Another former member of the Dells Ducks has worn a pro jersey as Chris Vella suited up for the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in the team’s Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) home and season opener at the Berglund Center in Roanoke on Friday (Oct. 15).
The Rail Yard Dawgs played host to the Fayetteville Marksmen, dropping a 4-1 decision in its only game of the opening weekend.
Vella, a native of Rochester, NY played four seasons (2013-14 to 2016-17) with the Ducks, wearing the ‘C’ in the final two, including the team’s USP3HL National Championship campaign.
Vella appeared in 128 games with the Ducks, collecting 56 goals and 103 points, good enough for sixth overall on the all time list that now includes 249 names. He came to the Wisconsin Dells as a 16-year-old rookie who patiently waited for his chance to shine. He barely played until after Christmas that first season, but once Head Coach Bill Zaniboni put his name on the game day roster, Vella made sure he had no reason to ever remove it.
The rookie became the veteran with the Ducks and when he aged out, he took the next step, playing NCAA Division 3 hockey with Morrisville State College for another four seasons, adding another 60-games to his total, the final two unfortunately shortened due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
Vella didn’t collect a point or a penalty in the first game with the Rail Dawgs, but watch for him to become a regular contributor beginning with the team’s next match, a do-over with the same Fayetteville Marksmen Friday at 7:05.
Anyone that has HockeyTV will be happy to know that SPHL pro games are also included on that site.
Thank you to Christine Vella for providing the photos for this story.