Sunday, November 21, 2010

Third time's a charm for David Leggio

He's been the go-to goaltender for the one of the best teams in the American Hockey League. The Portland Pirates are off to a torrid start and after last night's 2-1 shootout victory over the Worcester Sharks at the Cumberland County Civic Center. They sport a very hefty 13-3-1-0 mark overall--one of the top records in the league and the Pirates also are 9-0-1-0 at home, which ties them with the 1993/4 Pirates team for best home record to start the season. That 1993/4 team, by the way, went on to win the Calder Cup....

And their goalie has an 8-1 record, a 2.48 gaa and a save percentage of .922. No, it's not 2006 2nd-round pick (#46 overall) Jhonas Enroth...

Williamsville, NY native David Leggio has been "the man" between the pipes for the red-hot Pirates as Enroth's been going back and forth between Portland and Buffalo.

It's been a good few months for Leggio this season. The undrafted free-agent signed an AHL contract with the Pirates on August 8, 2010 after a strong playoffs overseas for the league champion Turun Palloseura (TPS) in the top Finnish league, SM-Liiga. His playoff record there last season--5-2 with a stingy 1.58 gaa and a solid .948 save percentage.

Leggio's stint with the Pirates is his third try at sticking with an AHL team. After four years at Clarkson University of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC,) leading them to the ECAC title in 2006/07 (his junior year,) Leggio got his first crack at the AHL with the Binghamton Senators in the 2007/08 season. After one game (a loss,) his 4.06 gaa and .778 sv.% left much to be desired...

The following season was spent in the ECHL where Leggio played for the Florida Everblades, helping them to a league-best 103 pts. and garnering him some personal accolades with a reserve spot in the all-star game. The Everblades succumbed to the eventual ECHL champion South Carolina Stingrays in the second round. On a side-note, the Stingrays beat the Alaska Aces in the final with the Aces being anchored by Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, an undrafted free agent who played in 31 games for the Portland Pirates and did yeoman's work.

After leaving Florida, Leggio's next crack at the AHL came with the Albany River Rats and it ended the same way the first one did--one game, one loss, a 7.00 gaa and a .788 sv.%. With the ahl being a disaster, he ended up overseas with TPS Turku for the 2009/10 season...

One of his biggest barriers to success over in Finland would be the language barrier not to mention the adjustment to a different culture. Even with former Clarkson University teammate, and Finnish native, Max Kolu helping him with the language barrier (as well as with shopping,) Leggio had a very pedestrian season going 12-13-3 with a 2.93 gaa and a .901 sv.%. But the playoffs were a different story as leggio lead his team to the championship.

Once again, though, Leggio was unemployed, but he got another crack at the AHL as the Buffalo Sabres came calling. With Lamoureaux gone and no one to back-up Enroth in Portland, Sabres GM Darcy Regier signed the hometown boy to an AHL contract.

Third-time's definitely been a charm for Leggio. Regier and the Sabres could not help but take notice as Leggio paced the Pirates to a fast start going 7-1, and he rewarded the well-travelled, 6'0", 180 lb net-minder with a two-way NHL contract on November 12.

The emergence of Leggio has put the sabres organization in a very interesting and very favorable situation in goal. Presently, the #1 goalie prospect in the system is Enroth.. Goalie-prospects Brad Eidsness, Nick Eno and Connor Knapp are at least a couple of years away from entering the pros as they are all in college and that would leave a major gap in the goalie chain. But with the way leggio's been playing, he may have bought the sabres some time and given them some leeway when it comes to the future of the crease.

It's been a long road wrought with failure for Leggio, but he seems to have accepted that failure is a part of success, an aspect which seems to have kept him well-grounded. It's also an aspect that should eliminate any confusion when it comes to the great confidence/cockiness debate. And david leggio is one very confident goalie right now.

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