Canisius College sophomore Keaton Mastrodonato has been nominated for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award. Fifty players from NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division 1 men’s hockey were nominated based on: “Exhibiting strength and character both on and off the ice, contributing to the integrity of the team, displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game and showing scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.”
Keaton was born and raised in Powell River and played his minor hockey here before leaving in grade nine to pursue his love of the game. He played for North Island Silvertips (U18 AAA) before playing Junior A in the BC Hockey League with Alberni Valley Bulldogs. He amassed 40 goals and 54 assists in 125 regular season games with the club.
“He was very successful there; his first year he was rookie of the year and he made the first all-star team for rookies, and also won most points,” said Jodi Mastrodonato, Keaton’s mom. “In his second year he won the community service award for his team.”
Keaton is now a power forward at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. Along with his hockey commitment, he is working on a double major in sports management and sports psychology.
In his rookie year he was named to the Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team, led the nation in short-handed goals, was rookie of the month for February and earned Canisius College’s Rookie of the Year. He is currently on a roll as a sophomore, leading the team in goals and points, and playing top minutes while being used in key roles on the power play and penalty kill.
“The Hobey Baker Award is prestigious just to be nominated,” said Jodi. “He’s in a groove right now; his team is also really playing well and they’re all getting along. He’s happy where he is and he’s having success. He’s self-motivated.”
Being nominated for the award will, “open new doors and provide new opportunities. It’s an honour to be recognized among the elite,” added Jodi. “He will tell you he is honoured to be nominated and grouped with such elite athletes. He’s been grouped with world junior players, guys who have been drafted.
“He’s been grouped into that category just with the nomination. Cole Caulfield just played in the world juniors [for USA] and he’s nominated.”
During the summer Keaton returns home to Powell River and spends time in Victoria to train with players from the NCAA, AHL, pro leagues and the east coast.
“He wants to go pro and, ultimately, I think every kid’s dream is the NHL, but he does want to turn pro and play professionally somewhere,” said Jodi. “We support him in everything he does; you don’t have to tell him to go train, you don’t have to tell him to do anything. You dangle a carrot in front of him and he will go after it.
“It’s a dream for a kid to win the Hobey Baker; there’s only one for the entire NCAA all across the board.”
Keaton continues to follow all of his former teams as well as his hometown Powell River Kings. Jodi sends her son a text of support every game day and dad Mike and brother Cohen can all tune in to watch the games online.
“He’ll always be a Powell River kid,” said Jodi. “There are a lot of people cheering him on from here.”
To show support for Keaton, online voting is available until March 8 at hobeybaker.com/vote.