Happy at home
Brock Badgers forward Chris Maniccia. PHOTO SPECIAL TO BPSN SPORTS
Marty Williamson is thrilled to see the selfish side Chris Maniccia surfacing a little more often.
The coach of the Brock Badgers men’s hockey team has encouraged Maniccia to shoot more, something the talented winger hasn’t always been comfortable with.
“He’s one of these guys who always seems to want to pass the puck and he shoots the puck so well,” Williamson said. “Our goalies tell me about his release and how accurate he is and he won’t shoot the puck. Now, he’s probably leading us in shots and he’s shooting more.
“Sometimes it’s easy to pass but you don’t always have to be the playmaker. If you have the opportunity, bury it. He has a nice balance to his game. He was always passing it and now I’m getting both from him so he’s tougher to defend.”
Maniccia seems comfortable the changes.
“I’m shooting the puck more and I’ve got a little bit more confidence this year,” said Maniccia, a 23-year-old St. Catharines native. “I feel like I’ve always been a passer first but the coach wanted me to shoot the puck a little more. If I have a clear shot and I can get it off obviously I’m going to take it. If that pass is there, that’s been my game my whole life, seeing the ice and having good vision.”
Maniccia has a goal and four points through the first six games this season and has been so dynamic Williamson called him his best forward thus far.
“My challenge to him is he is our most talented player so be our best player each night,” the former head coach of the Niagara IceDogs said. “He’s a talented young man. He has great hands and is one of our fastest players. My encouragement to him is to play the game with that kind of tempo. At times he tries slow the game down a little too much.
“He’s been doing a great job of giving us scoring chances. He’s worked hard in both ends for me which maybe always hasn’t been his strong suit.”
Maniccia is satisfied with his contributions so far.
“I’m definitely confident in my own abilities and I’m creating a lot of chances,” the former St. Catharines Falcon said. “Not all of them are going in. My role on the team is to produce offence, but you have to be responsible defensively, too. I feel like it’s there and I think they’re going to start to go in a little more often than they are now. As long as the chances are there, I’m happy with that.”
Maniccia joined the Badgers three years ago after two years at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He was recruited to come home by former Badgers assistant coach Mike Macdonald, who coached him in minor hockey. It also helped that his father, Dominic Maniccia, is the director of custodial services at the school.
“Obviously I wanted things to work out there, but for whatever reason they didn’t. I’m glad now and happy to have come back home.”
Maniccia, who is in his final season of eligibility, would love nothing more than to help the Badgers to a long run come playoff time. After losing their first four games of the season — all by one goal —the Badgers won a pair last weekend.
“It was awesome,” said Maniccia, a business administration major. “I thought we really played well in three of the first four games. They could have gone either way. We know we have a special team in the locker room. Once things start to click we’re going to compile a couple more victories. Those two wins help get the ball rolling.”
The victories were the first of Williamson’s OUA career after a dozen seasons in the OHL.
“I was really happy for the guys. They have been doing almost everything I have been asking and they’ve been working hard,” Williamson said. “We’ve been close, but no cigar and to get over the hump was (great). You try and reinforce things and if you don’t see results then they starting thinking have to do something different and reinvent the wheel.”
The Badgers travel to Thunder Bay to take on Lakehead Friday and Saturday.