Former Red Wing expected in Windsor line-up tonight
For Cristiano DiGiacinto the road to the NHL goers through Windsor.
The 17-year-old now former Sherwood high school student signed as a free agent on Tuesday with the OHL Windsor Spitfires and is expected in the line-up tonight (Thursday) when the Spitfires host Guelph.
“I’m really excited,” said DiGiacinto, who tallied eight goals and three assists in nine games as a forward with the Hamilton Red Wings of the Ontario Junior Hockey League before making the jump to the OHL.
DiGiacinto noted he was a late cut at the Erie Otters training camp last summer and his goal was always to play in the OHL.
“I really wanted to get back to the OHL after that experience,” he said.
The Mountain resident, who also picked up 37 penalty minutes with the Red Wings, is expected to add some grit as well as scoring to the Spitfires, who have four wins and five losses so far this season.
DiGiacinto said his goal was to play with Hamilton this year and then take aniother shot at the OHL or try to get a hockey scholarship at an American university next season.
But it wasn’t long before the OHL came calling again.
Oshawa and Owen Sound were interested in his services and DiGiacinto even worked out with the Oshawa Generals last week.
He said he chose Windsor because the Spitfires made him a better offer.
“It’s a great organization,” said DiGiacinto, who has been practicing this week with the team’s second line. “It was a better opportunity for me to come down to Windsor.”
His long term goal is to play in the National Hockey League or pro hockey somewhere and he’s hoping a good showing with Windsor will get noticed by an NHL club come draft time next June.
A number eight inHamilton, DiGiacinto will wear number 96 with the Spitfires.
“We lost a kid on our team who was a proven producer over the first nine games,” said Red Wings head coach John McDonald. “When you get off to a hot start like he did, you’re going to get some interest right away.”
McDonald said he wishes DiGiacinto all the best in the OHL, adding a big part of what the Red Wings’ organization does is help players move on to either the Ontario Hockey League or college or university hockey.
McDonald said the Red Wings are looking to acquire a player to replace DiGiacinto’s scoring punch on the roster, likely “in some type of trade.”