July 28, 2016

Ralph Intranuovo

Ralph Intranuovo is the son of an Italian immigrant. Father Marco arrived in 1967, unable to speak English. And he certainly had no idea what a hockey puck was.

By 1973 Marco had married and started a family. They had a son that year who would go on to introduce them to nearly every level of hockey available in Canada.

From a young age Ralfaele Intranuovo - know to everyone simply as Ralph - was a natural hockey star. Dad - by now a journeyman bricklayer in Scarborough - wanted his son to play the Italian national sport of soccer, of course, but Ralph truly loved the game on the ice.

He was always a fantastic skater, both in terms of speed and agility. He could handle the puck, too. And he had this sixth sense about him on how to play creative offensive hockey.

Intranuovo's big draw back was always that he was not very big himself. He grew to be five-foot-eight and maybe 180 pounds soaking wet. He learned how to survive in a big man's game by darting in and out of traffic and finding open ice. He could see the ice and the play developing better than most.

Intranuovo showed he could play in the Ontario Hockey League. In three seasons he played in 182 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He scored 106 goals and 258 points.

More importantly, in all three years with the Greyhounds Ralph was able to lead them to the Memorial Cup tournament. The Greyhounds finally won Canada's junior championship in their third try in 1993.

Intranuovo was named as the Memorial Cups' Most Valuable Player at the end of that emotional final game.

For Ralph that was, in many ways, the pinnacle of his hockey career.

Despite his ability to dominate the OHL game with his speed and creativity, he was always a long shot to play in the National Hockey League where brutes and brawn so often win out.

Intranuovo was drafted 96th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1992. Over six pro seasons he showed he could produce more offensive magic at the AHL and IHL minor league level.

But Intranuovo was only given a limited chance to play in the NHL. His career totalled 22 games - 19 with Edmonton and three more with Toronto. In that time he scored twice and set up four others.

Ralph left the minor league game behind in 1999 and travelled to Europe to extend his career. He played many seasons in Germany and Austria and Slovenia before finally making the family's inevitable return to Italy in 2009.

Ralph played the final four seasons of his hockey career in Italy before hanging up his skates in 2013.

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