Is it possible for an athlete to think that it’s easier to play a sport as a professional rather than as an amateur?
In the case of Jeff Giuliano, the answer is yes.
Giuliano, a hard-working left wing for the Manchester Monarchs, has shown steady improvement as a hockey player in the American Hockey League since joining the team on a regular basis in January of 2003.
A native of nearby Nashua, N.H., Giuliano admits to putting pressure on himself to score goals while attending Boston College from 1998 to 2002. But, that pressure to score no longer exists as he continues to excel in his role as a third or fourth line “energy guy” with the Monarchs.
“The pro game is much different than the college game,” said Giuliano, who collected 15 points (4-11=15) and only eight penalty minutes in 48 games with the Monarchs last season. “Some of the best players I faced in college aren’t playing anymore because they weren’t able to make the adjustment to the pro game.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I still like to score goals,” said Giuliano, one of the Monarchs top penalty killers. “But scoring goals isn’t as important to me as it was in college. These days, I get just as much satisfaction after successfully killing off a power play or holding a top scoring line from the opposition off the scoreboard.”
Now in his second professional season, Giuliano has a better understanding of the pro game. That’s not surprising when you consider that he appeared in 88 games last year while splitting time between the Monarchs and their ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals.
“Even though I appeared in all of those games, I really never did feel burned out,” said Giuliano. “In a lot of ways, playing hockey last year was easier than in the past because I didn’t have to worry about attending class or taking tests.”
Giuliano signed on with the Monarchs for a second season in August of 2003.
“This is where I want to be,” said Giuliano, who gets to perform before family and friends on a nightly basis. “I feel comfortable here and I know from the Los Angeles Kings to the Manchester Monarchs, the organization is strong and committed to being successful.”
Giuliano hopes to continue his growth as a hockey player so he can achieve another goal…playing in the National Hockey League.
“Training camp in Los Angeles was a great experience,” said Giuliano, who attended the Boston Bruins training camp the previous year. “I was a bit more relaxed the second time around, mainly because I felt like I could play at that level. Once I got past the idea of being nervous while sharing the ice with players like Ziggy Palffy, I was able to relax and just play the game.”
Giuliano earned a regular spot on the Monarchs last season with both determination and hard work. Now into his second pro season, those two attributes continue to serve him well as he continues to climb the ladder with the hope of one day playing in the NHL.