After a successful — and final — season with the 2016 national champion University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey team, Drake Caggiula is ready for the first chapter of his professional hockey career.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “Obviously, you want to be a professional hockey player since you’re a young kid, that’s what you dream about and the National Hockey League’s the biggest goal. Now that school’s all done, I just have to worry about focussing on hockey and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. Hockey is what I love, it’s my passion.’
One of 36 prospects attending this years Orientation Camp, Caggiula is preparing himself physically and mentally for what can only be perceived as a change of pace in the world of hockey.
“[Professional hockey], I think it’s a little different than college hockey,” he said. “It’s a much bigger, faster, stronger, smarter [game], and I know there’s going to be an adjustment period. But at the same time I think I’m a quick learner and hope I can learn as quick as possible and really get accustomed to the pro game and hopefully it turns out well for myself.”
Caggiula, who signed with the Oilers as a college free-agent on May 8, wrapped up his senior season with the Hawks recording 25 goals and 26 assists for 51 points in 39 games and helped lead the team to a national championship title.
Now, with school behind him camp becoming his sole focus this week, the 22-year-old is ready for what lies ahead.
“You want to show them that you’re prepared and that you’re working out throughout the summer and making sure that — you know it’s still July — but you want to make sure and let everyone know you’ve been putting in the work and getting ready for the summer and getting ready for camp and early fall.
“I think it’s a good time to get your feet wet and kind of show off what you have. It’s still an orientation camp, you’re not going to make the team or get cut from the team at this camp, but at the same time, it’s kind of good to get your foot in the door and show what you’re capable of.”