Since grade nine, local hockey player Keaton Mastrodonato has covered a lot of ground throughout BC. Now, the 16-year-old could find himself on American soil in the years ahead after being drafted by the United State Hockey League (USHL).
Mastrodonato was selected in the 11th round, 165th overall, on Tuesday, May 2, by Tri City Storm from Kearney, Nebraska. USHL is the country’s top junior hockey league consisting of players 20 years of age or younger.
“It was a great recognition, to see that other teams out there recognized my talent,” said Mastrodonato. “It’s a confidence-booster to get draft by a team from out of the country, and it showed me there weren’t just teams around here that had interest in me.”
Before Mastrodonato makes a final decision on playing in Nebraska, he has a full year of BC Hockey League (BCHL) action ahead of him with Alberni Valley Bulldogs for the 2017-2018 season.
Mastrodonato currently lives in Nanaimo and captains BC Hockey Major Midget League team North Island Silvertips while attending grade 11 at Nanaimo District Secondary School.
He said he plans on graduating in Powell River next year after the Bulldogs finish up their BCHL season. Then he will consider his next option, while keeping his eye on a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) team.
“My goal is to get an NCAA commitment from playing with the Bulldogs,” said Mastrodonato, “then I can either stay in the BCHL or go and play for my USHL team for a year or two before I go into NCAA.”
Mastrodonato played minor hockey in Powell River until he was 14 years old, then moved to Victoria to play triple A tier one hockey. He moved to Nanaimo to play with the Silvertips the following year.
Hockey has been a huge part of his life since he was very young, according to his mother Jodi Mastrodonato.
“We’re very proud of him and all of his hard work is finally paying off,” said Jodi, a physical education teacher at Brooks Secondary School, “and we like the avenues that are opening up to him.”
Mastrodonato said strong support from his family and the community of Powell River have been instrumental to his success in a sport that has always been his passion.
“My family has supported me all of the way, since I was a little kid, and letting me go away at such a young age in grade nine was a big part of my career,” he said. “It made me make those steps forward, and now I have all of these opportunities with the BCHL, USHL and hopefully some NCAA schools as well.”