TORONTO, ON – MARCH 8: Jesse Venturo #19 of the St. Michael’s Buzzers celebrates a goal with teammates during the first period at St. Michael’s College School Arena on March 8, 2024.(Photo by Shawn Muir / OJHL Images)

Jesse Venturo  of the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s St. Michael’s Buzzers has confirmed his commitment to join the NCAA Division I Lake Superior State Lakers in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan beginning with the 2026-27 season.

The 17-year-old rookie from Kleinburg scored 14 goals and added 22 assists with St. Michael’s this season.

“We are happy to announce Jesse has committed to LSSU,” Rich Ricci, St. Michael’s General Manager and Head Coach, told the OJHL. “I think it’s a good fit. They are looking for skill and Jesse has that in abundance. I’m proud of his development this season. I think he battled through the rigours and grind of the early months to become a better 200-foot player.”

“He’s talented, has exceptional vision and has a deceptively hard and accurate release. We expect him to continue his on-ice progression while he gets bigger and stronger off ice. Project him out four to five years, there’s a lot of upside.”

Venturo has fully embraced life as a Buzzer and a player in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

“Playing for the iconic St. Michael’s Buzzers organization has been an incredible experience so far,” he told the OJHL. “The coaches taught me so much more about myself and the game. My teammates have been awesome in making me part of the team.The atmosphere of the games have been electric and the fans have been supportive. The coaches have made me a complete player. It’s been an amazing year with the Buzzers.”

“The OJHL organization is really impressive. They do a great job of developing young hockey players and providing exciting games for the fans to enjoy. I’ve noticed the commitment they give to the sport.”

Why Lake State, Jesse?

“I always knew I wanted to play NCAA hockey,” he said. “I worked hard to get to that point by working hard. When assistant coach DJ Goldstein from Lake Superior State approached me after my game, I was so excited. DJ invited me for a visit to the university campus and hockey rink. Within days we planned to visit.

“Upon my arrival I was greeted by all the coaches. They were all so nice and seemed so interested in me; it made me feel very happy and honored. Visiting the rink was awesome and exciting and my vision came to light that one day that could be me playing here. I love the vibe in the arena and the coaches. The university campus was small and intimate, which I loved. Everything about the visit just seemed that this was a good fit for me and my hockey development.”

Venture attended Mount St. Charles Academy in Rhode Island before splitting the 2022-23 season between the Toronto Red Wings U18 team and the Long Island Gulls U16s. He also played seven games as an affiliate with the Brantford 99ers of the OJHL last year.

Venturo and the rest of the Buzzers open the second round of the 2024 OJHL playoffs at home to the Cobourg Cougars Friday night.

Congratulations to Jesse and best of luck in the OJHL and NCAA!