Hard work pays off.
From day one when a bright eyed 16-year-old Mark Kastelic broke into the Hitmen lineup, it was evident that he was a kid with a drive and commitment unlike many others.
Combine that same drive with his overall development in his game and the now 20-year-old Arizona product has been rewarded for all that tireless work by being selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
“It was such a surreal moment and I was at a loss for words when it happened,” Kastelic said. “I’m so excited and grateful for the opportunity and pumped to be headed to Ottawa to show the type of player I am and make an impression.
“I know there is a lot more work to do and this is just the beginning of getting my foot into the door. I can’t wait to get things started.”
Kastelic chose to stay back home in Phoenix during draft weekend with his family, but kept a close eye on the draft to spot his name all while keeping busy with his off-season workouts.
Once the Senators made their pick at 121, it was time to celebrate.
“I think my dad was a little more excited than I was,” he laughed. “The support my family gives me is huge and I couldn’t have done it without them with all the sacrifices they made to help me get to this point.
“It was a special day for the family as a whole and I’m very lucky to have a great support system with my parents and sisters.”
The Hitmen captain had a monster season this past year with a career high 77 points (47G, 30A) which was tied for the team lead, and had a league-leading 24 power play goals. His 47 markers saw him finish third in the WHL as his game elevated to new heights.
It’s no question that the numbers are the first thing you notice, that or his imposing 6-foot-3 220-pound frame, but arguably his character is the trait that shines brightest.
“It was a combination of a lot of hard work, perseverance and commitment to make this dream that much closer in coming true,” he said. “Obviously there was a bit of disappointment in not being drafted the first couple of years but I used it as motivation this past year and really used all my focus on what I could do to help the team and dialed in to getting better each day.
“I had great teammates and coaches who supported me all season long and they deserve a lot of credit for this.”
With the impressive season that he had, the centreman is already focused on surpassing those numbers and taking yet another step forward during the 2019-2020 campaign.
No matter how successful of a year he has, he’s always looking to one up himself. Whether it’s being the first one on the ice and in the gym or the last one to leave, he sets the tone leading by example.
“I still feel like I haven’t reached my full potential,” he said. “I’ve always took pride in being the hardest worker and it’s something that can’t really be taught and I think it helps separate me from others.
“I’ve put in a lot of extra work to have the best chance to win every night and improve my chances of making it to the NHL.”