Fond memories of Niagara
Oliver Castleman’s career with the Niagara IceDogs didn’t end the way he would have hoped.
The over-age winger had high hopes of helping lead the IceDogs into the post-season to get the young players on the roster some much needed playoff experience.
That came to an end when the Ontario Hockey League cancelled the remainder of the regular season due to the Coronavirus.
“I wished I could have helped them make the playoffs but this is much more than hockey and much bigger than hockey right now,” Castleman said. “I think it’s important everyone stay healthy and stay safe.
“There’s a lot more to life than just hockey.”
Castleman, who collected 73 goals and 165 points in 254 career games with the IceDogs, has fond memories of his four seasons in Niagara.
“Coming to the rink everyday, I always knew I would be learning something new or getting better when I walked out the doors,” he said. “They worked so hard off the ice and on the ice to develop you into young men and get you ready for the real world if hockey doesn’t work out.”
Castleman said he felt like the IceDogs were his second family.
“They make you feel like you were there own kids,” he said. “I felt like I was Will at times, Burky’s kid, because he took such care of us. He was at the rink for such long hours — all the coaches were like that. We were so lucky.
“(Owners) Bill, Sr. and Denise (Burke), they took me in and took all the boys in with open arms and taught us so many life lessons that can’t be taught anywhere else. We’re so lucky to have that second family at the rink.”
Castleman was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft and admitted he was a bit apprehensive about moving from Ottawa to Niagara.
“At first I was kind of scared because it was so far from home and I wasn’t too sure what to expect,” he said. “I remember coming down the year before after I was drafted and they were playing in the playoffs and the barn was sold out and so loud. I just wanted to play the next game and help.
“You could always rely on it being sold out.”
Castleman loved the fan support.
“I’m from Ottawa and it’s big city and Niagara, you have people from Welland and Grimsby and Lincoln — it doesn’t matter where. The people will come and watch. They love their hockey and they are passionate about it.
“I grew up going to 67’s games and no one really cares about the OHL and the games aren’t so packed. I learned how much of a hockey city it is and how much hockey history there is.
“I was honoured to be part of it.”
Castleman plans to use his OHL education package to attend school next season and said he is seriously considering attending Brock.
On the right side of our web site, as well as on the top of the stories, you will notice a yellow SUPPORT US button.
We are asking anyone who finds value in our work and is able to financially help us to click on the button and contribute whatever amount you feel is appropriate and can afford. There is no set amount. Any amount is appreciated.
The funds collected will be used to enhance and offset the expenses of running the web site.