Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- First, he did it in high school at Duluth East. Then he did it in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with Fargo. And now, Dom Toninato is prepared to do it in college for the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD).
"We've got to go out and work hard, use our speed," Toninato said of this year's Bulldogs. "We've got a great group of guys in here, and I think we're meshing well early on."
One guy Toninato didn't have to mesh with was fellow freshman forward Alex Iafallo. Those two were linemates in Fargo and will start off the same way at UMD — on the second line with junior Caleb Herbert.
"It's pretty cool," Toninato said of again skating with Iafallo. "The chemistry is there, and playing with him all last year definitely helped. Now Herbert is on the other side with us, and I think we bonded right away. The chemistry will keep getting better as we play together."
"It's definitely pretty sweet because I played with him all year in Fargo," Iafallo said, "so to keep us together here and keep the chemistry going here is pretty awesome."
Toninato finished his one year of juniors with 29 goals and 41 assists, setting a new single–season record for the Fargo Force.
Now as he makes the jump to Division I, he calls last winter necessary for his development.
"Just the size difference and the speed out there is a big difference from high school, so the year in Fargo really helped," he said. "I really needed it to get bigger, faster, and stronger. It's made this jump a little easier."
And it's allowed him, in the eyes of UMD head coach Scott Sandelin, to start his career as more of a complete player than just a talented goal scorer.
"He does a lot of things besides scoring, too," Sandelin said. "He's very responsible defensively, and he's a very intelligent player. If you watch him, he's always in the right position. He doesn't really look like a freshman, and that's great for us if he can play a little bit older than he is."