SAN DIEGO SEALS PLACING FAITH IN GOALTENDER CHRIS ORIGLIERI
September 1, 2023By: Adam Levi
Christopher Origlieri is about to become a household name in San Diego.
Following a season’s worth of impressive performances for the Orangeville Northmen in the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (OJLL) this summer, Origlieri earned himself a rare five-year contract with the San Diego Seals and the starting gig in between the pipes for this upcoming NLL season.
During this past OJLL season, Origlieri posted extraordinary numbers that were notably more impressive than his counterparts. Here’s how he measured up compared to the other goaltenders who played in at least 10 regular season games.
Origlieri’s goals against average (GAA) of 5.95 was the best in the league – the Toronto Beaches’ Andrew Kidd had the next lowest GAA at 8.19. Origlieri’s 86.3% save percentage was also the best – the next closest was the St. Catharines Athletics’ Oliver Vanyo, who had a save percentage of 82.4%.
Chris Origlieri makes a stop in OJLL action. (Photo: Ontario Lacrosse Association)
The 20-year-old goaltender started in 19 of the team’s 20 regular season games and helped the team to a perfect 20-0 regular season record. The Northmen became the 11th team in OJLL history to finish with a perfect season and only the 2nd team to go 20-0.
The Northmen were 27-0 before they lost to Burlington Blaze four games to two in the best-of-seven OJLL finals.
Even in a losing effort in the OJLL playoffs, Origlieri was still putting up the best numbers in the league. Origlieri’s 7.19 GAA and 85.1% topped the charts among goaltenders who participated in five or more playoff games.
Origlieri’s effort all season long earned him a laundry list of OJLL awards, including Most Outstanding Player, Most Valuable Player, and Most Valuable Goal Keeper. The up-and-coming goaltender proved his value this summer, and it was not lost on the Northmen’s head coach, Rusty Kruger, just how valuable Origlieri was to the team.
“Chris was the backbone of our team,” Kruger said. “We weren’t overly big on our back end, and he maybe blanketed some of our deficiencies on the back end (as far as our size and teams getting to the net). We relied on him a lot. I can’t say enough good things about Chris. From where he started to where he is now, it’s a true testament to all of his hard work.”
The Northmen were comprised of many talented individuals. Still, it was particularly beneficial to Origlieri to be able to work with Rylan Hartley, one of the team’s assistant coaches (and Origlieri’s step-brother), and Nick Rose. Rose and Hartley have NLL experience and different playing styles, so there’s even more for Origlieri to pick up when picking their brains.
“They’re both great lacrosse minds, and they’ve been there,” Origlieri said. “It feels good taking advice from guys like them because they’ve been there and done it. I think [being around Rose and Hartley] helped me out a lot.”
Chris Origlieri (Photo: Ontario Lacrosse Association)
The budding netminding star was noticed and appreciated throughout the dog days of summer. One very important person in the stands was watching Origlieri’s time in goal very closely: Seals’ head coach and general manager Patrick Merrill.
Merrill doesn’t live too far from the Northmen’s home base at Tony Rose Arena, and he took every opportunity to watch his new starting goaltender in action. Near the end of July, Merrill surprisingly traded their long-time franchise goaltender, Frank Scigliano, to the Saskatchewan Rush. That has left the starting job on the table for Origlieri.
Origlieri took advantage of most of his opportunities in limited time between the pipes last NLL season. There was a four-game stretch where he made 30+ saves each time he stepped on the floor, including a career-high 42-save game in a win against Panther City Lacrosse Club.
Origlieri understood that the starting job belonged to Scigliano until it didn’t, and so every time the young goaltender was granted an opportunity to start in front of the veteran, he approached those chances with a ‘what do I have to lose?’ mentality. That mentality took some of the stress off of Origlieri’s shoulders and allowed him to play more freely. It allowed him to play the way coach Merrill knew he could since the Seals drafted him in the 2nd round (23rd overall) in the 2021 NLL Entry Draft.
“From the moment we drafted him, we felt like Chris could be a star in this league,” Merrill said. “Over the first couple of years under Frank, he’s grown to the point where we think he’s ready to be the next starting goaltender of this team. We wanted to commit to him long-term to show our faith in him.”
Working under Scigliano has been a key factor in Origlieri’s growth since he joined the NLL. Scigliano has been a mainstay in the NLL for over a decade and has dozens of wins to his name. He has been a backup and a starter and has played in less meaningful regular season games and win-or-go-home playoff games.
CALGARY, AB – DECEMBER 30, 2022: The Calgary Roughnecks against the San Diego Seals at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday. (Photo by Jenn Pierce/NLL)
Scigliano has been through it all. Origlieri was not only able to learn on the fly and make adjustments during the regular season, he took what he learned from Scigliano and applied it during his summer season.
“I can’t say enough good things about Frankie, to be honest with you,” Origlieri said. “He was a huge part of my growth. I think that that helped my confidence a lot. Getting in and seeing that I’m in the realm and I’m not super far away – I still have work to do – but that helped me a ton going into [the Junior season].”
Between Origlieri and Scigliano, the Seals allowed 10.7 goals per game, tied for the 4th-lowest during the 2022-23 season. With Origlieri getting the reps he did last season and now this summer, he is poised to make a difference as the team’s newest starter.
He feels quite fortunate to play in front of a defense that is mixed with championship-winning veterans and budding talents like himself. Knowing they are in front of him all of next season already gives him confidence in his defense, even months before training camp begins.
“Those guys all work their tails off, and they’re all willing to learn and willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Origlieri said. “Their willingness to block shots and their willingness to do anything is definitely beneficial.”
Origlieri has gone from being called up from Jr. B in 2019 to being given the starting gig in goal for the NLL team in just four years. He’s been fortunate to have been surrounded by great lacrosse minds who have helped him get where he is. With the Seals, he can work with an NLL hall of famer in Bob Watson (the Seals’ goaltending coach) for five sure-to-be productive growth years.
The ultimate goal for Origlieri and the Seals is to win the NLL Cup. Watson has won six NLL championships and is one of the most decorated NLL Hall of Fame members in league history. If there’s a guy who can help Origlieri lead the Seals to their first title in franchise history, there are few better men for the job than Watson.
Chris Origlieri during the Stadium Showdown – Las Vegas at San Diego – 3.4.23
“He has a lot that he can teach you,” Origlieri said. “Whether it’s about anything mental or physical, pretty much any question I have, Whipper has an answer. Whenever I asked him, ‘what should I do in this situation?’ It ended up being the right answer. He has such a great lacrosse mind, and it’s a real privilege to work with him.”
Origlieri has built a reputation for himself as someone who is hardworking and dedicated to his craft. He has been a sponge every step of his playing career, and now he is ready to let his talents loose for the world to see.
He has five years to make his mark. He wants to become an NLL champion and is making great strides to do so. He will do everything in his power to win the fans over. He even plans to live in market during the terms of this deal. This deal has given Origlieri another boost to prove to the world that he has nothing left to lose.
“At first, I was nervous about such a long-term deal, but when you actually think about it, it’s a real honor that the team is making such a huge commitment to you,” Origlieri said. “San Diego has been really great to me, and there’s no other place I’d rather be. They’re making a huge commitment to me, so the least I can do is make a commitment back to them.”
Move over, Ron Burgundy. A new star in San Diego is set on winning over the public’s hearts. His name is Christopher Origlieri.
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