University of Maine senior right wing David deKastrozza could make his professional hockey debut tonight when the South Carolina Stingrays entertain the Reading Royals at 7:05 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
DeKastrozza has signed with the ECHL’s Stingrays. Terms were not disclosed by the team.
The ECHL is the equivalent of Class AA baseball.
“This was one of my goals growing up and I’m definitely glad I’m here,” said deKastrozza. “I flew down Tuesday night and started practicing on Wednesday. So far, it’s been pretty good.
“There’s a real good group of guys down here and it’s in the high-70s [temperature-wise], which is a little better than Orono,” quipped deKastrozza.
The Tom’s River, N.J., native had a memorable senior year for Maine with nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 36 games. He had eight goals on the power play, tying him for second on the team and 22nd in the country in that category.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound deKastrozza entered the season with five assists in 49 career games.
He concluded his career with goals in his last two games: Maine’s 5-2 win over Boston University in the Hockey East semifinals and 7-6 overtime loss to Boston College in the championship game. He also had an assist against BU.
He had two goals and two assists in his last four games.
The 23-year-old deKastrozza saw some duty at center this season and took faceoffs. He was also used as a penalty-killer.
He had six goals and six assists over his last 16 games.
One of his South Carolina teammates is former Maine teammate Keith Johnson.
“This will be good exposure for me. I’ll be able to get my face out there and try to prove that I can play in this league,” added deKastrozza. “I’m looking forward to it.”
DeKastrozza is hoping to land another pro contract for next season either with the Stingrays or another franchise.
The Stingrays are leading the South Division and already have clinched a playoff spot. They have four regular-season games before the playoffs.
DeKastrozza said he will be with the team through the regular season “but everything’s up in the air after that. I have to come back to school around April 20 so I can finish up and graduate.”
“I’m very proud of David,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “He was playing the best hockey of his career at the end. He became a force down the stretch. He really emerged as an all-situation player for us this year: power play, penalty kill and first and last minute of a period.
“I’m confident David will do well as a pro because he is strong at everything. He may not excel at one particular thing but he can wear any hat and do it well,” added Whitehead.
Until he returns, deKastrozza intends to keep up with his schoolwork via e-mail and online.
“My teachers have been good about it,” he said.