July 28, 2015
It was the New York Islanders who gave him a shot at pro hockey. They signed him to a one year deal as a free agent after four years at the University of Denver. Mannino led the Pioneers to the 2005 NCAA championship.
Mannino was never drafted by a NHL team. In hindsight, anyway, that was not such a big deal for him.
"Being drafted is especially helpful somewhere around the first three rounds, because then organizations kind of have a commitment and investment to showcase those players. But there are a lot of undrafted players who make it to the NHL. It just fueled my fire and motivated me even more to prove myself. It made me work harder. Sometimes making it to that next level may take a little longer going through three, four years of college."
Mannino's period of uncertainty regarding his NHL dream and contract options coming out of school was bookended by his appearing in the NHL in his very first pro season. Going from almost no chance at playing in the NHL to actually getting into three games with the New York Islanders all in the span of a few months really goes to show you should never give up on your dreams.
The highlight of Mannino's career had to be his very first start in the National Hockey League - a 4-2 victory over Chicago on March 15th, 2009.
"It goes without saying that it would be my first NHL start, which was a victory for the New York Islanders [in 2009]. Fortunately, it was in Chicago, against the Blackhawks. My parents, who sacrificed so much to help get me to that point, were able to be there. The memory of getting that first start, and win, against such a talented team, is a memory that will always stick with me."
Mannino would play in two more games with Islanders, posting a 1-1 record, before leaving the organization in the summer of 2009. He opted to sign as a free agent with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Over the next two seasons Mannino got lots of playing time at the AHL level with the Chicago Wolves. The Thrashers did bringing him up to the NHL from time to time, usually to back up. He did get into two games but never was tagged with a win or a loss.
The Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. Mannino got the chance to relieve in one game for the Jets, playing a scoreless 20 minutes.
That proved to be the last 20 minutes of his NHL career. He continued to play hockey, bouncing around the minor leagues until 2015.
Mannino retired to Chicago where he is a goalie coach.