If you watched any Hartford Wolf Pack games last year you should be familiar with Rangers prospect Cristiano DiGiacinto. DiGiacinto just wrapped up his first season in the Rangers organization, playing the entire season in the AHL with the Hartford. He played in 47 games, scoring 6 goals and assisting on 7 others. DiGiacinto also plays a physical game, ending the season with 47 penalty minutes and 3 fighting majors. I sat down with the 26-year-old forward on The Broadway Hat Podcast to hear about his journey to professional hockey.
Memorial Cup Champion
Cristiano DiGiacinto went undrafted in the OHL draft and went to the Erie Otters training camp, where he got an up-close look at Connor McDavid but did not make the team. He then went and played for his hometown Hamilton Red Wings of the OJHL and caught the attention of the Windsor Spitfires. DiGiacinto would play 50 games, scoring 17 goals and racking up 101 penalty minutes. That production was impressive enough to catch the eye of NHL scouts and he was selected 170th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
DiGiacinto established himself in the OHL as a hardnosed player and also a leader in Windsor. He would serve as an assistant captain during his final 3 years on the team. In 2015-16 he was selected to play for Team OHL All-Star team in the Junior Super Series. In his final season with Windsor, he would help lead the team to their 3rd ever Memorial Cup.
Following his 4 seasons in the OHL DiGiacinto was not signed to an entry-level contract by Tampa Bay. He would sign with the Jacksonville Iceman in the ECHL. After playing just 12 games with the Iceman he would enroll at Acadia University. He would play 3 seasons with Acadia before having his senior season canceled due to covid. In his final season with the Acadia Axeman he would score 20 goals. The second most goals in all of USports. He once again caught the eye of a team with his play and was signed to a 1-year AHL contract with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Hartford Wolf Pack
This past season DiGiacinto quickly became a fan favorite with his physical play and effort. Wolf Pack fans also found out that he is not afraid to drop the gloves. A question I asked him about in our interview.
This year @WolfPackAHL fans found out that Cristiano DiGiacinto is not afraid to drop the gloves. He had some great fights & we talked about getting that first fight & his years of MMA training.— The Broadway Hat Podcast (@Broadwayhatpod) July 20, 2022
Hear the full episode⬇️https://t.co/JHJIH3piDx#NYR #NoQuitInNY #AHL @cdigiacinto66 https://t.co/rCwPGqdkae pic.twitter.com/zbwNX3gcKA
Following a solid first season in the Rangers organization, he was rewarded with a contract extension for the 2022-23 season. If he can continue his strong play from year one, next year he could be looking at an NHL opportunity. A player that can play physically, contribute on offense, and plays responsibly in his defensive zone are traits any team would want.
Be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers and USA Hockey: @KHallNY. You can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players.