Osoyoos Coyote Blake Astorino has signed with the B.C. Hockey League’s Merritt Centennials.
Blake Astorino’s crashing and banging style of hockey is loved by the Merritt Centennials.
They also love the work ethic and skills the two-year Osoyoos Coyote brings to their B.C. Hockey League organization.
“Blake is as character as they come. He will play through pain and faces all of his adversities head on,” says Centennials assistant coach Levi Stuart on the Centennials website. “His work ethic is top notch and his leadership abilities make him a perfect fit with our group. He is a big body who is extremely hard to play against, physically punishing and has the skating and shot to go along with it. He is going to be loved at the NVMA.”
Astorino, who collected 270 career penalty minutes in 93 KIJHL regular season games,
“The opportunity I’ve been given with the Centennials is one I have worked extremely hard for,” says the Prince George native.
Astorino leaves the Coyotes to join the Centennials because he feels their program is very structured and competitive. He also has the sense the players are being given the ability to push themselves to become the best they can be on and off the ice.
“They have a program with a lot of history and pride,” he says. “A lot of very good hockey players have come out of this program. I feel the Centennials are a great fit for me.”
Astorino, 18, earned more responsibility in his second season with the Coyotes. He played through adversity which made him a better player and teammate along the way.
“What helped me contribute more offensively in my second season was learning to make quicker decisions on the ice and being able to anticipate the play,” says Astorino, who went from seven goals and 16 points in 44 games to 14 goals and 37 points in 49 games. “Also slowing things down mentally allowed me to read and react to the things happening around me despite how fast it is out there. I worked really hard on my speed, taking extra time on the ice and in the gym to build my legs. As my strength grew, so did my comfort level with holding onto the puck with the confidence. This also went along with the strength I gained to knock other players off pucks and give myself more time and space to create opportunities.”
Astorino, who joined the Coyotes after playing midget AAA in Prince George, says his time in the KIJHL helped him develop as a player because it’s a natural stepping stone.
“The KIJHL is an awesome league, a very competitive league,” says Astorino. “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow and develop with the Coyotes.”