When I first approached YSE Alumni Daniel Catenacci on Saturday evening, there was a clear sense of frustration amongst him and his teammates, as they walked to their dressing room following the Rochester Americans 3-1 loss to their QEW rival the Toronto Marlies. Upon mentioning I was from the York - Simcoe Express, his entire demeanour changed. His smile started to come out and his overall body language went from frustrated to relaxed and excited. The mere thought of the team that developed him and led to him becoming the player he is today, brought back a plethora of memories.
Flashback to the 2008-2009 ETAMMHL (Eastern Triple A Minor Midget Hockey League) Season. Five of the top ten scoring leaders hailed from the York - Simcoe Express. Daniel Catenacci was one of them. Standing at just under 5'9, Daniel isn't the biggest player on the ice, but don't tell him that size matters because he'll prove you wrong in a heartbeat. During the 2008-09 season with the Express, Daniel tallied 87 points in 39 games (6th in scoring) which ultimately resulted in him being selected 1st overall by the Sault. St. Marie Greyhounds in the 2009-10 OHL Priority Draft. While his numbers were very impressive, that's not the only quality that Daniel possessed that stood out, it was his leadership qualities too.
Daniel feels that his time at YSE was very well benefited. After playing with the Greyhounds and the Owen Sound Attack, he was selected in the 3rd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He's now in his second season with their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. While he may be playing across the border, Daniel said he's always excited to come home and play in front of his family and friends.
Every year our players are given the opportunity to pick their captain. Not only does it show the faith and confidence each player has in their fellow teammates, but it also shows the relationships and the friendships that they develop throughout their time within the organization. Being picked by his teammates to wear the "C" is something Daniel cherishes and is very proud of. "It was awesome, we had good character guys and you want to be well liked by your teammates and I think being there so long, they (teammates) were my best friends" Said Catenacci. "They weren't from school or anything, they were from my hockey team so I'm with them everyday." Speaking of friendship, Daniel says not only did his time with the Express make him a better hockey player, but it helped him gain two best friends. Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Murphy. When I began to ask Daniel about the relationship between his two former teammates and if they still talked, a big smile immediately flashed across his face. "Murph (Ryan Murphy) and Barcs (Barclay Goodrow) are my two best friends." said Catenacci. "We don't go a day in the summer without seeing each other and I'm so proud of both of them to be able to make the jump to the NHL and Barcs (Barclay) has had an amazing story so far and he's having a great year and I'm very proud of both of them." His friendship with his two teammates isn't the only great memory he has of his playing days at YSE. Looking back on his eight years, Daniel had high praise for the coaching staff saying "we always had good mentors and coaches" And that's something he feels helped him progress to where he is now.
On behalf of everyone here at YSE, good luck on your sophomore season with Rochester, Daniel! You've done us proud!!
(Header photo provided by Christian Bonin at TSGphoto.com)