ORONO, Maine — University of Maine senior right wing David deKastrozza entered this men’s hockey season with five assists in 49 career games.
He had his share of injuries and was also a healthy scratch on several occasions. He had trouble staying in the lineup.
But he wanted his senior year to be something special and it certainly has been so far.
DeKastrozza is not only putting points on the board with two goals and two assists in six games, he is also playing in all situations (power play, penalty-killing) and taking important faceoffs.
DeKastrozza and the Black Bears entertain defending NCAA champion Boston University on Sunday at 4 p.m.
“I just wanted to contribute any way I could,” said deKastrozza. “Maybe I could score a goal. But now I have four points and coach [Tim Whitehead] has a lot of confidence in me and is playing me in key situations.”
“It’s definitely a big honor. It’s really nice,” said deKastrozza, who took three classes in the offseason to lessen his workload this year.
“I’m really proud of David. He had a great summer,” said Whitehead. “He took some classes and he really prepared himself, off and on the ice, for this season. His success is no accident.”
DeKastrozza, Maine’s biggest forward at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, received plenty of ice time early in which to prove himself because junior Tanner House and senior Kevin Swallow were sidelined by injuries. He took House’s net-front job on the power play and has remained there on another unit since House’s return.
“That gave him his chance to emerge,” said Whitehead.
“We have a lot of little guys up front, so I knew I’d have to be a grinder and a physical player. We didn’t have too many physical players and that’s how I was going to get in the lineup,” said deKastrozza, noting that Maine lost three of its most physical players in Lem Randall, Nick Payson and Matt Duffy.
DeKastrozza said the biggest reason for his improvement has been his confidence.
“Coming into his senior year, he really wanted to be a bigger part of our team, and he has done a good job,” said House. “He has been consistent. He’s physical, he’s good defensively and he has chipped in offensively. He’s been huge for us.”
“It’s tough to get him away from the front of the net,” said junior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen. “He has improved every aspect of his game greatly.”
“He has scored big goals and made big plays,” said freshman center Matt Mangene, deKastrozza’s linemate along with fellow freshman Adam Shemansky.
Mangene said he roomed with deKastrozza on their first road trip to Union College and he got to know him pretty well.
“I learned from what he had done in his first three years. I just hope to score a goal before my senior year,” chuckled Mangene.
DeKastrozza said he has been happy with the way he has played so far, “but I’ve got to keep it up.”
He is looking forward to the BU game since the Terriers eliminated Maine from the Hockey East quarterfinals last year and “I’ve got a lot of friends on their team. So this will also be for bragging rights.”
Sunday’s game will also feature an exhibition by 9-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom, whose trick shot received air play on networks across the country, including ESPN. He is the son of former Black Bear Joakim Wahlstrom.
Oliver Wahlstrom maneuvered the puck up onto his stick, balanced it there and then did a 360-degree spin before flipping the puck in the net past a startled goalie.
There will also be pregame tailgating for $10 per car.