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Opportunity Awaits Catenacci

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

by: -- Clayton Hansler

Name: Daniel Catenacci
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Born: Newmarket, Ontario
Position: Centre
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 185lbs
Stats: 2010-11: 67 games, 26 goals, 45 assists, 71 points
North American Ranking: 37

It is fully expected when one enters the workforce that they will experience pressure in one form or another, often starting with the first interview. No one can escape it. The pressure to impress, the pressure to maintain, and the pressure to succeed plagues us all, sometimes seemingly hitting all at once.

For Daniel Catenacci, who at the age of a high-school sophomore was drafted first-overall by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the pressure has come in the form of a whole hockey-crazed community examining his every move since he was drafted at 16.

"He came into the OHL as a first-overall selection to the league and I believe it's human nature to continue to put pressure on yourself of certain statistical expectations," noted Greyhounds' coach Seamus Kotyk.

"The town is based around the steel plant and paper mill." Kotyk continued, "honest working people and good genuine human beings in itself, and when they come to watch the Greyhounds play, whether it's a championship season or its a season that we went through last year, they don't want to be fooled they want to see an effort out there."

The Greyhounds finished the 2010-11 season at the bottom of the Ontario Hockey League's Western Conference with 24 wins and 56 points, 17 behind a playoff position.

Although having recorded an impressive 26 goals and 71 points in 67 games during the 2010-11 campaign, nay-sayers have pointed to a period of 18 games stretching through most of January and February where Catenacci recorded only a single goal and eight points.

"He puts way too much pressure on himself. He makes a mistake and he doesn't let it go, he wishes he could go back and change it," expressed Catenacci's linemate Brett Findlay who also enters the draft pool for the first time in 2011.

Catenacci eventually broke his slump against the Sarnia Sting with a two goal, four point performance and finished the season off with five goals and 13 points in the final nine games.

"Through that whole point that Dan wasn't scoring the goals that people expected him to get he never lost his work ethic, he never lost any of that," said Kotyk.

The Greyhounds' coaching staff looked at Catenacci's season in a different way than the local gadflies. As a response to the young forward's critics, Kotyk recalls the conversations he had in the coaches room at the end of the season.

"Dan finished up with pretty much 70 points and he went a period of time there where maybe 15 to 18 games where he didn't have a lot of goals, or no goals or points, but he still finished up where we projected him," Kotyk explains. "There was a big draught, and everyone was very concerned, but at the end of the day for a 17 year old to put up 70 points is rather impressive."

Greyhounds' general manager Kyle Dubas, who took the reigns of the team in early April 2011, had no hesitation in explaining the upside Catenacci brings to the northern OHL club.

"He plays in more of a fifth gear all the time and I think he can be an extremely good second line player on a championship team. He can kill penalties, he can score goals, he's got speed, he can forecheck, he can change the momentum and energy level of the game."

Findlay adds, "I wouldn't have done as good as I did this year without Dan, and I don't know if he can say the same about me. I just know when we played together there was just something there and we knew where each other were and we just really clicked."

Heading into the NHL entry draft, scouts have placed Catenacci as high as the 11th overall position and as far back as the fourth round. "It's such a wide range," said Dubas. "To me the key for Daniel is going to be how he responds no matter what happens."

Having already been encumbered by the pressures to impress, to maintain and to succeed, Catenacci and those around him expect he will rise to the occasion and answer his critics, with the same work ethic he has displayed in the past.

Of his star-forward's future career Dubas concludes, "he's going to have a huge opportunity no matter what."

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