Jr. Sharks alum Cassetti credits association for success
Advancing past AAA hockey is no easy task, but Joey Cassetti has succeeded the past number of years with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) and in the USHL.
Next season, the Pleasanton native will suit up for Merrimack College, an NCAA Division I school located near Boston that plays in the powerhouse Hockey East conference.
“The opportunity to potentially commit and attend Merrimack College first presented itself late last season,” said Cassetti. “My team was playing the Madison Capitols, where (Merrimack assistant coach Curtis) Carr first noticed me. Ever since then, I had been in contact with him as well as the rest of the coaching staff. I visited earlier this summer and committed a few weeks later.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play Division I college hockey ever since I have been a little kid. I expect the hockey to be faster and to be playing against bigger competition. I have taken a few classes in the past year, so I think I will be able to transition to school pretty easily, too.”
Cassetti plans to major in Business at Merrimack.
The 2017-18 campaign was Cassetti’s third in the USHL following two years with the NTDP. In 44 regular-season games for the Black Hawks, he recorded eight goals and 10 assists. Cassetti also netted two goals and an assist in eight playoff appearances.
“Playing for the NTDP for my first two years of juniors really helped me shape my game around to more of a two-way player,” said Cassetti. “I was taught many of the fine details to the game that I had not necessarily emphasized in my play in years past. I developed and matured as a person and a player. Playing in Waterloo this past year, I continued to develop my game tremendously. The coaching staff and everyone on my team really pushed me day in and day out. I was fortunate enough to have the best group of guys surrounding me at all times, as well as the best coaching staff in the USHL.
“During my time playing junior hockey, I have had many ups and downs. What always made me want to keep going was the possibility to fulfill my dreams of playing in the NHL. My teammates at both the NTDP and Waterloo were all awesome guys and they always made it super fun and competitive coming to the rink every day.”
As a youth, Cassetti blossomed with the San Jose Jr. Sharks after playing for the Tri-Valley Blue Devils. He later skated for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies in suburban Detroit.
“I have so many coaches that were positive influences on my character as well as on my development as a player,” said Cassetti. “Tom Nelson coached me when I was playing for the Blue Devils and was always one of my favorite coaches. When I transitioned to the Jr. Sharks organization, I was at the hands of numerous coaches, all which taught different things that helped me develop into the player that I am today. Those coaches were Mike Janda, Sean Castagna and Tyler Shaffar. They were awesome coaches for me and I wouldn’t be where I am at today if it weren’t for them.
“The Jr. Sharks organization was great for me and definitely gave me the exposure that I needed.”
With the USHL season right around the corner, Cassetti has his immediate and long-term goals in place.
“My short-term goal in hockey as of right now is to win a Clark Cup with Waterloo,” said Cassetti. “Following this year, I want to come into Merrimack ready to play well and do well in school. My long-term goals consist of playing in the NHL and further down the line, owning a business when it is time to hang up the skates.”
Photo/Stephanie Lyn Photography
— Matt Mackinder
(Sept. 20, 2018)