Still in goal
Plymouth native Bill Zaniboni finds a new place in goal, in Mississippi
His swagger between the pipes is back. Bill Zaniboni is back on top of his game, this time with the Mississippi Surge of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The Plymouth native, who turns 28 next Sunday, was the SPHL’s Goaltender of the Year after leading the league in shutouts (4), goals-against average (2.48) and save percentage (.921).
Zaniboni has come a long way from Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, where he was the backbone of three Super 8 state championships from 1998-2000, and Northern Michigan University, where he ranks among the best goalies in school history after graduating in 2007.
Zaniboni thought his playing career was over six months ago. As the puck dropped on another professional season last fall, he was working as an assistant coach with the Soo Indians, a Junior A team out of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. He suited up for the team in the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
“Yeah, I was ready to move on,’’ said Zaniboni, who owns and runs a goalie instructional school. “I was doing my coaching and I was happy. But I don’t think it’ll ever leave — that urge to play.’’
Meanwhile, in Biloxi, Miss., Steffon Walby faced a goalie crisis. “We didn’t have anybody to lug the mail back and forth,’’ the Surge’s head coach said.
Several members of the Surge who had played with and against Zaniboni brought up his name when management was looking for a free agent. He played the 2008 season in the Central Hockey League and the 2009 season in the International Hockey League, compiling a 3.60 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
Zaniboni signed a contract Nov. 11, debuted with the team the next day (in a victory), and has not looked back. He finished the season on a 17-3-1 tear that included a 2.10 goals-against average.
Walby concedes that such a stellar season could land Zaniboni a job with a team in a better league, but hopes to bring him back next season.
A renowned goalkeepers coach, Murphy last year became the first American to be named a head coach in British soccer with Scotland’s Livingston Football Club. He left the club in September before it was demoted to the Third Division due to financial problems.