Sault Ste. Marie native Mario Culina made his pro hockey debut a successful one on the weekend as he backstopped the expansion Newfoundland Growlers to a 5-2 win over the Worcester Railers.
The 21-year old Culina made 33 saves to spark Newfoundland to victory. The Growlers are part of the minor pro, ECHL.
Culina, who won a Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires in 2017 as a backup to Michael DiPietro, came into his own as a starter as an overage goalie with the Kitchener Rangers over the second half of the 2017-2018 Ontario Hockey League season.
The slender goalie was a sensation as Kitchener made it into three rounds of last spring’s OHL playoffs before the Rangers finally lost to the Soo Greyhounds in the seventh and deciding game of the Western Conference finals.
Culina was recently signed by Newfoundland — which is a secondary farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League — after fellow goalie Eamon McAdam was promoted from the ECHL Growlers to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
PHOTO: Still wearing his Kitchener Rangers mask, Mario Culina made 33 saves in his first pro start as the Newfoundland Growlers beat the Worcester Railers 5-2.