Taking Liberties With… Matthew Caito
Position: Defenseman, Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)
Hometown: Coto de Caza
Last Amateur Team: Miami University (NCHC)
Youth Teams: Costa Mesa Comets, Anaheim Jr. Ducks, L.A. Selects
California Rubber: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Matthew Caito: One of my favorite memories was during Bantam AAA. In the state championship game, we were up 3-1 against a team we beat the night before. With about 1:30 left, they came back. Everyone was nervous, then there was the excitement of us winning in overtime. People crying. I was so excited. I could still tell you exactly what happened on the good plays and the goals.
CR: What is your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
MC: My junior year at Miami, winning our playoff championship (NCHC). That was one of the best feelings I’ve had in college hockey. Another one my freshman year was when we won the last CCHA regular-season championship.
CR: You played for your father, Paul, growing up. How was that experience?
MC: It was a lot of fun. Your father puts a lot more pressure on you to do certain things. It helped me down the road. He was doing it out of love. He pushed me to succeed. He’s a great coach who really loves the game and knows a lot about it. He played in high school in the Massachusetts area and still plays hockey today. He was coaching ’98s with Igor (Nikulin) for a while.
CR: What was your first taste of pro hockey like?
MC: I got the opportunity to play for Toledo (ECHL) after (Miami’s) season. Unfortunately, we lost in Game 7 of the quarterfinals. It was good to see the lifestyle, and to be living on your own. It wasn’t like being in college where you see your buddies every minute of every day. I got to see the pro vibe and what it takes.
CR: What advice would you give young hockey players?
MC: I had that opportunity being around my dad’s second group of kids, and it was keep working hard. Listen to your coach. Doing things to the fullest. Be a great teammate. All you can do is care about that, and you’ll succeed individually.
CR: Who has been the biggest influence on you on and off the ice?
MC: My grandfather (Thomas Caito) is still a big influence to me. He was a high school football coach in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and is in all the halls of fame. He was one of my role models, along with my dad; someone who works hard and loves the game. He shares a passion in similar things. He loves hockey.
CR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
MC: I played baseball in high school at Tesoro. Those were all my buddies in high school. I kept with it in boarding school. I was a catcher because I loved being part of every play and being the vocal leader.
CR: What is your game-day routine like?
MC: I always put my gear on left side first. I jump rope before games and like to play a little soccer so I get certain amount of touches. I always eat chicken and pasta.
CR: Are there are any pieces of gear you’re particular about?
MC: My skates, which are Grafs. It’s gotta be a half inch (hollow) and sharp all the time. I’m a little prima donna with my edges.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
MC: I love when my mom (Julie) cooks. My favorite dish is a shrimp, broccoli and ziti one.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
MC: My favorite player was Scott Niedermayer. Watching him when the Ducks got him was the best gift I’ve ever received.
CR: If you weren’t playing hockey, what do you think you’d be doing?
MC: I’d probably be doing something with baseball or working with a sports team in some way.
– Compiled by Chris Bayee