Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
This is the second in a two-part series about Sabres goalie prospect, Jason Kasdorf.
Ewald Kasdorf was born and raised on a farm in Brazil then emigrated with the rest of his family--all 15 of them--to Winnipeg to start a new life. Ewald's parents had relatives in Winnipeg and they'd told them of an opportunity for a better life in Canada so they decided to pack up the clan and move.
"From a young age my dad was always working, always had lots of responsibility," said Jason Kasdorf. "and when they came to Canada, they really didn't have much. Basically every bit of money my dad made he gave to his parents to help them and the family out."
As things stabilized, Ewald started a plumbing business and eventually his own family, Jason, the only son of three, would spend his summers working beside his father, watching, listening, and learning. They developed a pretty tight relationship. "I worked with my dad since the summer of grade six," Kasdorf told me. "since then I'd worked for him every summer. It was great. I got to spend time with my dad every day. Now I only see him a couple times a year throughout the season, so being able to do that with him growing up was pretty special."
The strong work ethic wrought from of Ewald's time on the farm and the responsibility of helping his family start a new life in a new country with practically nothing would rub off on Jason. "I think my dad's passed on some of those traits to me just hearing about what he did growing up."
It was a story not lost on coach RPI head coach Seth Appert. Being a father himself he knows the burden of heading the family and he talked very respectfully of the job that Jason's parents did rearing him and it's why he gave them all the credit for how Kasdorf came to campus with his work boots on. Appert's own work ethic, specifically in reference to the work he put in with his goalies, was something that drew Jason Kasdorf to the school.
Kasdorf told me that he chose RPI for a number of reasons, but an overriding one was coach Appert's success with his goalies. While an assistant at the University of Denver, three of his charges--Wade Dubielewicz, Adam Berkhoel and Peter Mannino--would all make it to the NHL. RPI alum Allen York, who Kasdorf mentioned directly, left as a junior to sign a two-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2011, the year before Kasdorf began his college career.
The young Kasdorf came in with his father's work ethic and an open mind ready to learn his craft. It took him half a season to go from 3rd string to starter and he finished they year winning ECAC Rookie of the Year honors. But the past two years haven't gone exactly as planned and he'll be returning to RPI for his senior season. "[My goal] is to win a championship here," he said of the return. "The program has given so much to me and helped me out so much, I hope I can help my team do something special for the program by winning a championship."
There are other reasons to return as he'll also be earning his degree in business management, but he's heading into the season with a positive outlook for the Engineers as well as an eye towards his future beyond college. "Like I've said multiple times, I think that working with coach Appert will really help me out in the future. I want to continue to hone my skills and develop good habits so that, hopefully, when I go on to play pro hockey, I'll feel 100% confident and ready to play," he said.
Coach Appert, obviously, is happy with the decision as he get's his No. 1 goalie back and can build from there. Yet he also feels it's the proper move for Kasdorf to return for his senior season. "I think he needs to," said the coach. "I don't think going into pro hockey after two injury-plagued seasons is a good recipe for success. Pro hockey is very demanding and very unforgiving. That's one good reason for him to come back and re-establish himself and his confidence and his belief that he can be the best goalie in college hockey."
With all the reasoning behind his return to RPI, perhaps for Kasdorf it's an inherent drive simply finish the job before moving on to the next challenge, something his father had always done.
Regardless, it's a long road to the NHL and there are no guarantees, much like the road from Brazil to Winnipeg, and completing his own journey, much like his father and his family had done, would mean a little something extra special.
"When I was growing up," said Kasdorf, a Winnipeg Jets fan as a youth, "The Sabres were my father's favorite team. After the [2004-05] lockout I was in the seventh grade and I always remember he really liked the Sabres.
"It was very cool for him when I got traded to Buffalo."