No Regrets: The Lindsey Sciacca Story

Over the course of his hockey career, Lindsey Sciacca has had no regrets about anything.

A California native, Sciacca has seized every chance that has come his way, all en route to making his dream of becoming a successful goaltender come true.  Even though he knows that hockey is not exactly the most popular sport in his home state, despite a five-year period in which both the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup, Sciacca knows that he can make a name for himself in the sport he loves, especially in the hardest position.

Lindsey Michael Sciacca was born on March 4, 1995, in Visalia, California, to Lenny and Cheri Sciacca.  He also has a younger brother named Landon, who is a little over a year younger than Lindsey himself.  A decent-sized city in the San Joaquin Valley, as well as the seat of Tulare County, Visalia is located 370 kilometres southeast of San Francisco and 310 kilometres north of Los Angeles.  It is best known for being the hometown of actor Kevin Costner.  While Visalia does have a reputation for being the hometown of significant athletes, including football and baseball players, Sciacca may very well be the first renowned hockey player to come out of the city, thanks mostly to an opportunity that he seized when he was younger.

Sciacca readily admits that, unlike Canadian hockey players, he did not have a backyard ice rink to practice on during the winter or a usual stereotype of “learning to skate before learning to walk.” Growing up in California, finding a backyard ice rink would actually be near impossible.  In fact, Sciacca did not know anything about the sport until he was about eight years old; coincidentally, it was in 2003 when the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim made their magical run in the Stanley Cup playoffs that took them all the way to Game 7 of the finals to the New Jersey Devils.  He knew that he had to do whatever he could to become a hockey player.

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Sciacca

Lindsey Sciacca started playing roller hockey at the age of eight in his hometown of Visalia, California. By the age of eleven, the aspiring goalie was playing mite-level ice hockey in Fresno. (Photo: Lenny Sciacca)

Sciacca’s beginnings of becoming a hockey player were actually quite unique.  One summer, when he was younger, Sciacca took piano lessons, which only lasted one day because he was not really into it. Unbeknowst to him at the time, right next to where he was taking the piano lessons was a roller rink.  He noticed a lot of kids around his age going into the rink, skating around, and he was bewildered. Sciacca decided to see what they were enjoying so much.  In good time, he and his brother Landon started playing roller hockey, much like Emerson Etem has admitted to doing growing up in Long Beach, California.  The love affair was immediate.

The first day that the Sciacca brothers went to play roller hockey, the coaches asked if anyone wanted to be the goalie.  For some reason, Lindsey readily jumped at the opportunity.  He found it to be one of the best decisions he ever made in his life.  He became very good quite quickly.  After a couple of years, both he and Landon decided to try playing ice hockey.  They went to a summer camp at Selland Arena, the home of the former ECHL team, the Fresno Falcons.  Once Lindsey Sciacca hit the ice, he knew instantaneously that he was done with roller hockey for good; ice hockey was his new passion and he was not going to look back.

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In the years after Sciacca started to play ice hockey in Fresno, he has appeared in every level possible in that city.  Their junior program, the Monsters, is one of the best in all of California.  He played for them all the way from mite to under-18 midget, as has his younger brother, who still plays for the under-18 Monsters as an alternate captain.  All the while, he also played on other AA and AAA teams around northern California, but his heart remained in Fresno.

Sciacca also became a good student of the game during his formative years in Fresno.  He watched many goalies around the NHL, opting not to pick just one or two to idolize, but studying different styles of a wide array of netminders all in the hopes of making his game better.  At the time, California had a wide array of goaltenders on their three NHL teams for Sciacca to learn from, including Evgeni Nabokov, Jonathan Quick and Jean-Sébastien Giguère.  It was not just these goalies, though; any NHL goaltender could prove to be a significant teacher to him.  Furthermore, hockey in California got its just reward in 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks won their first Stanley Cup, the first time an NHL team based in the state saw such a championship.

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By the time Sciacca was sixteen years old, he was ready to get his career going in a better direction.  He played one game in the WSHL, a tier III junior A league, for the Fresno Monsters.  However, he still had to wait a while before he could make the next step in his career.  Around the same time, he started training with Steve Switzer, a former goaltender who was now working as a coach.  Switzer has been coaching wannabe goalies since 1982 at the Glacial Gardens Ice Arena in Lakewood, California.  Sciacca made a great choice since some of Switzer’s former students have gone on to play in the WHL, both NCAA Division I and III schools, and in Europe.

Sciacca

Sciacca signed with the GMHL’s Bobcaygeon Bucks in the summer of 2012, making it the first time he had played away from home. (Photo: Bobcaygeon Bucks)

Before he was to begin his senior year of high school, Sciacca decided to see if he could find a team elsewhere to play for.  One day, during the summer of 2012, Switzer approached him with an intriguing opportunity.  He learned that there was a team in the GMHL, an independent tier II junior A league in Canada, looking for a goalie his age. This team, the Bobcaygeon Bucks, had already graduated their #1 netminder from the season before when Australian goalie Andrew Crowther aged out of the league.  Sciacca took a bit of time to think about the possibility of moving to Canada, his first time playing somewhere other than California, away from his family, friends and his girlfriend. Thinking that he could not pass it up, he signed a contract with the Bucks during the summer of 2012.  The 6′, 144-pound netminder was about to embark on a new chapter in his playing career.

Sciacca made his way to Bobcaygeon, a smaller town near Toronto, most known for being immortalized in a song by the Tragically Hip.  He joined a team that had many players from Ontario, as well as ones from Alberta, British Columbia, Michigan and even Russia.  The Bucks play in a small 1000-seat arena, the Bobcaygeon-Verulam Community Centre, but Sciacca knew that this was going to be home.  He has truly enjoyed his time in the GMHL thus far and he has no regrets about his tenure in the GMHL to date.  He got his first win on October 27, 2012, against the Toronto Attack; he made 34 saves in an 8-7 Bucks win, thanks also to a goal by Jeremy Gillespie with three minutes left in regulation.  So far this season, in eight games played, he has a 3-3-0 record with a 4.44 goals-against average and an .892% save percentage, very good statistics for a goaltender in such a high-octane offensive league such as the GMHL.  He has also been named a star of the game five times.

Even more remarkably, Sciacca has learned that he is not the first with his last name to enjoy success in Canadian junior hockey.  From 2004 to 2008, defenceman Jonathan Sciacca, a native of Windsor, Ontario, played in the OHL for his hometown Spitfires, the Kingston Frontenacs and the Oshawa Generals, scoring 51 points (ten goals, 41 assists) in 233 career games.  He also played three years for the University of Windsor Lancers between 2008 and 2011, recording 28 points (thirteen goals, fifteen assists) in 72 career games. This came as a surprise to Lindsey, who felt that he and Landon were the only two hockey players with their last name.

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Sciacca knows that the future is his to take and, even more than hockey, he knows the value of something else: A good education.  He will be graduating from Redwood High School this summer and he is hopeful of continuing his education and his hockey at an NCAA Division I school.  For now, he is focused on helping the Bobcaygeon Bucks for the remainder of the season, with the hope of graduating on to — at least — the NAHL, and maybe even the USHL.  Sciacca readily admits that “it is amazing how hockey is able to affect a person’s life and [I am] excited to see all the places it will take [me] in the future.”

It just goes to show how Lindsey Sciacca has truly had no regrets.

Margann Laurissa

Margann Laurissa

Margann Laurissa is based out of Kingston, Ontario. She contributes profiles to MyNHLDraft.com on a regular basis.
Margann Laurissa
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