Diego Cuglietta is getting acclimated to pro life in his second full season.
The former Kamloops Storm forward says adjusting from college has been different, “but it’s been a lot of fun.”
The Kamloops native began his pro career in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars following a four-year career with Lake Superior State. After 26 games in the AHL with the Stars, the Kamloops native has been playing in the ECHL, initially with the Idaho Steelheads, then joining the Utah Grizzlies to start this season. He was then traded to the Indy Fuel.
Cuglietta has 20 points in 25 games, including eight goals and nine points in 13 games with the Fuel.
“I’ve been playing pretty well. I found my game again and, you know, last year I played the best I could,” says Cuglieta, who as a 16-year-old, scored 13 goals and had 38 points in 50 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season games. “There were some ups and downs and this year I just wanted to play the best I could.”
This season has been different because of COVID-19 and initially not knowing what was happening at the AHL, if the ECHL was going. He’s having fun playing, especially because he has been performing well of late helping the Fuel win.
Cuglietta, who spent three seasons in the B.C. Hockey League with Merritt before earning a scholarship with Lake Superior State, says as a pro, people really get to find out what kind of player they are.
“I think that’s really what a lot of young kids got to remember and for myself I think I’m a two-way hockey player,” says Cuglietta, who had five goals and nine points in 12 playoff games with the Storm. “I have to work on the defensive side and I’ve always been able to find the offensive side of it, but you know I pride myself on the defence and I think that’s one of my bigger aspects now that I work on – my draws and that’s been good.”
Being traded from Utah after 10 games was an adjustment, but the Fuel’s coaching staff and players have been really good. They brought in Cuglietta as part of the team and felt like family. Currently, Cuglietta is out of the lineup with an injury, but the fit has been good. He started on the wing, but is back on his natural position at centre.
Cuglietta says his four seasons at Lake Superior State were awesome. He left Merritt at 18 or 19, but he fell in love with the campus, the players and coaching staff from the first day. He also got to connect with relatives on the Canadian side.
“I really developed as a great, great two-way player,” says the five-foot-10, 176-pound forward. “I felt like I progressed, year after year so it was a lot of fun and we had some good times there.”
In 147 career games in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Cuglietta had 50 goals and 100 points.