Captain Cato thrilled to wear C
The new ownership group of the Niagara IceDogs wasn’t even officially in place when Landon Cato was named captain.
Darren DeDobbelaer’s bid to purchase the team was officially approved July 7 but a couple of weeks before that Cato already received the news he would be wearing the C this season.
“When Darren called me it was on Father’s Day so it was kind of a great present,” Cato said. “He just told me he liked what he saw from me and he likes the way I am with the boys. I got an accolade just from being a good guy so to get recognized for that, it’s pretty huge.
“This organization, this city, means a lot to me and to be the captain is truly an honour.”
The 19-year-old Cato is the 15th captain named in franchise history, taking over from Dakota Betts.
“A lot of guys said it’s a huge honour but for me it’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve done in my life,” Cato added.
Cato is following in the footsteps of his cousin, former IceDogs captain Akil Thomas.
“I grew up watching him with the C on his jersey and everything I learned was from that guy, so now to be able to wear it myself, it’s full circle,” Cato said. “When my family found out, we were going crazy and I was almost in tears.”
Cato said he learned what it means to be a captain from Thomas.
“Akil was best friends with everyone on the team, it didn’t matter if you were 16 years or 21. You could call him at any time and he knew how to put a smile on your face,” he said. “He knew everything he needed to say. He did everything our team needed. He wasn’t a big guy but he would still get in there with the big guys that this was his team. He took so much pride in this level of hockey and being the captain here.”
Cato said he and Thomas spent time this summer in St. Catharines.
“We hung and he couldn’t believe how much he missed the city,” Cato said.
Since being drafted in 2019, Cato has made a name for himself in Niagara from his acts of service and presence in the community. Cato was nominated for the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the OHL Humanitarian of the Year.
“Landon is a fantastic young man,” IceDogs coach Dan Fitzgerald said. “I think he’s going to embody the qualities we’re really looking for as a team. We want to be hard working and in your face and hard to play against and Landon brings a lot of those qualities. He’s also a great person in the community. He represents his teammates very well.
“I think he’s going to do a great job in that position. He’s going to be supported by not only our staff, but other guys in that room.”
Cato has been impressed with what he’s seen so far in the first few days of training camp.
“Exciting. That’s probably the biggest word,” he said. “Every single guy at this camp is determined to be the best player they can be. I’ve talked to every single guy on this team and we’re on the same page. We’re here to work hard and show the league we’re not the same IceDogs as last year. Something has changed and we’re ready to go for a big run.”
The IceDogs continue camp this week in preparation for their first exhibition game, Sunday, Sept. 4 at Kitchener at 2 p.m. The IceDogs also take on Windsor Monday, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Vale Centre in Port Colborne.
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