Former Hamilton Jr Bulldog Mike Casale fulfilling dream to play for hometown Warriors, News (Hamilton Jr Bulldogs)

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Former Hamilton Jr Bulldog Mike Casale fulfilling dream to play for hometown Warriors
Submitted By Laura Lennie, News Staff Sports on Thursday, September 23, 2010
Mike Casale grew up watching the Stoney Creek Warriors.

“I used to watch the Warriors play when they were called the Stoney Creek Spirit,” he said. “The rink is two minutes away from my house and I always thought, how great would it be to play for a team that is literally in my backyard.”

Today the 16-year-old, five-foot-ten, 180 pound Stoney Creek native is a forward for the Warriors.

Four games into the 2010/11 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season, Casale has netted three goals and picked up two assists.

“The Stoney Creek Warriors is a first-class organization from the owner down to the coaches and it feels good to know that I play for a hard working, never give up attitude kind of team,” he said. “I’m very honoured and humbled to be part of such a club and a winning team as well.”

Casale joined the Warriors last season. Prior to joining the Warriors, Casale played for the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs Minor Midget AAA team. He was with the organization for nine years, before being drafted to the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in the 2009 Priority Selection Draft.

“After being selected by the Niagara Ice Dogs, Warriors head coach Ric Nattress gave me an opportunity to develop my skills in Junior B hockey as a 15/16-year-old, so I could make it into the OHL, as well as be part of a team that would compete for the Sutherland Cup,” he said. “Being added to the Warriors’ roster felt like a new beginning, another chance to prove myself to people that have never seen me play before. It was something special, I was one of two 16 year olds signed by the club.”

The Warriors moved into sole possession of second place in the Golden Horseshoe Conference last Saturday, after hammering the Wheatfield Blades 6-1. The team’s third consecutive win also puts them within striking distance of the first-place Thorold Blackhawks, who they now trail by two points.

“I hope to bring leadership and a strong work ethic to the team,” said Casale. “I also hope to take the experience that I gained from last season and pass it on to the new guys on the team, so we can ultimately win another conference championship and head to the Sutherland Cup for the third year in a row, but this time bring the cup back home to Stoney Creek.”

Having grown up playing hockey through the Stoney Creek Minor Hockey Association and for the Stoney Creek Icebreakers, now the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs of the Greater Hamilton AAA Hockey Club, Casale says hockey has always come first.

“Growing up, all of my friends played hockey,” he said. “My dad pushed me to play and I ended up loving the game. To this day, I love being on the ice with my team.”

Looking ahead, Casale says he’s still trying to make the Niagara Ice Dogs.

“I’m also open to a NCAA hockey scholarship, should the opportunity present itself,” he said. “Ideally, I would like to get an education, while playing hockey. As for my long-term goal, I would like, one day, to make a future for myself playing professional hockey. For now, I’m just enjoying being a part of a great hockey club.”
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