NORTH ANDOVER, MA – Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) inked a professional contract Wednesday signing with the Vancouver Canucks.
"I'd like to thank Merrimack and head coach Mark Dennehy for the opportunity over the last four years," said Cannata. "I am excited to be a part of a first-class organization like Vancouver and cannot wait to further my career. It wouldn't have happened without the help of everyone at Merrimack. I am so proud to be a part of Merrimack College and to see how far the program has come and how much the culture has changed in my four years."
Cannata will fly to Vancouver Thursday before reporting to Chicago of the American Hockey League. Chicago is at Hamilton on Saturday and Sunday.
"There are not too many players in the nation that can change the landscape of college hockey like Joe Cannata has," said head coach Mark Dennehy. "Joe put Merrimack back on the map nationally, and I am really happy for him. I believe Vancouver, a team that has the propensity of finding great goalies, has found a NHL level goaltender in Joe."
Cannata, 22, appeared in 36 games for Merrimack as a senior, posting a 17-12-7 record, a 2.18 goals-against and a .925 save percentage.
Cannata departs as Merrimack's all-time leader in wins, games played, minutes played, saves, goals-against and save percentage. He started all but one game in his final two years and allowed only 27 even strength goals (excluding empty netters) in 27 league games this season. The Wakefield native surrendered more than two goals only eight times this year, as Merrimack went 18-2-4 when scoring two or more goals.
A two-time Hobey Baker nominee and Walter Brown award semifinalist, Cannata was a Hockey East first-team selection this year, becoming the program's first first-team honoree since 1993-94.
Cannata debuted at Merrimack in style, making 44 saves in his first career game, a 1-0 win at Army, becoming the first goaltender in Merrimack history to record a shutout in his first start. Last year, Cannata was a finalist for the Walter Brown Award as the top college hockey player from New England. He was drafted by Vancouver in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Cannata becomes the third senior to sign this week from Merrimack. Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) and Jesse Todd (Calgary, AB) signed with Hamilton of the AHL on Monday. Flanigan debuted on Tuesday night.
Vancouver selected Cannata in the sixth round (173rd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.