Every year it seems a player emerges out of nowhere and makes a huge impact on a team; whether it’s a player who has a breakout season, a goalie that solidifies himself as a top netminder or an undrafted free agent signee like Andrew Mangiapane.
If you don’t know who he is yet, you will very soon. Mangiapane has bursted onto the OHL scene scoring goals in bunches for the Barrie Colts this season; 18 to be exact, to lead all rookies in that department.
No one expected the 5’10, 160 pound winger from Bolton, ON to score goals the way he has through 48 games, not even Mangiapane himself, “it’s kind of serial, me being a free agent just being a walk-on I wasn’t really expecting to get as many goals as I have right now but there’s always room to get more and I have to keep pushing.”
He may not be the biggest player on the ice but Mangiapane is a fearless competitor who is willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals. His hockey smarts and ability to be in the right place at the right time have contributed immensely to his success.
He drives the net hard and has a tireless work ethic that was noticed very early on from the Colts coaching staff. Mangiapane attended Colts Assistant Coach Todd Miller’s summer camp and out of that was invited to Barrie’s rookie camp. It was a long process and each step of the way the first year Colt had to keep proving to everyone that he could play at this level.
Mangiapane played Major Midget a season ago for the Toronto Jr. Canadians and had been signed to play for the Toronto Canadians Jr. A and was looking to go the NCAA route before making the Colts.
Looked over by every OHL team in his draft year mainly because of his size, standing just 5’5 in his draft year, a sudden growth spurt really worked to the winger’s advantage. “I’m still pretty small.” Laughed Mangiapane who leads the Colts with a plus 23 rating this season, “People want strong, big guys and I was pretty small in my draft year and I guess I grew a bit. I’m still pretty small out there; still need to get bigger and gain a few pounds, hopefully it’ll come quick.”
When the season began, Mangiapane started on the Colts fourth line and despite limited minutes, he was creating chances each time he was on the ice. Head Coach Dale Hawerchuk rewarded the rookie with powerplay time and for a stretch, the 18 year old played alongside Colts leading scorer Andreas Athanasiou on the team’s first line.
During the month of December Mangiapane scored 8 goals and 16 points and was named the OHL’s Rookie of the Month. ‘Mangee,’ as he’s known to his teammates capped off the month with a stretch of 10 points in 4 games that included his first career hat-trick in a 4-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires, a moment the young forward will never forget. “It was pretty lucky the third goal but it was really exciting and Double A (Andreas Athanasiou) came and picked me up. I didn’t realize it went in and I was just excited and happy...I can’t even describe my feelings, I was just really excited.”
His heroics don’t end there as he was the lone goal scorer in a 6 round shootout in early January against the Eastern Conference’s top team in the Oshawa Generals. After the goal, Mangee sported that infectious ear to ear smile of his. A smile that grew even wider when it was brought up that his last name (Mangiapane) in Italian means ‘to eat bread.’
“Yes it does.” He chuckled with a wide mouth smile, “A couple of my friends back home call me ‘Bread,’ I told them and they didn’t believe me at first but now they call me ‘Bread’ every once in a while.”
The nickname ‘Bread’ hasn’t caught on yet with his teammates and fans in Barrie as for now the Colts sniper is simply known around the BMC as ‘Mangee.’