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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 23, 2017 7:00 pm

Cazzola headed to Europe

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

As expected, Mike Cazzola is going to Europe.

The forward, who was selected MVP by his teammates during his rookie year with the Komets, has signed to play this season with the Edinburgh Capitals of the United Kingdom's Elite Hockey League.

“This has been a long time coming,” Cazzola said in an interview on the Capitals’ web site. “We’ve been in talks for the last year. I’m going to be doing some schooling over in Edinburgh. School is important to me. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about the city of Edinburgh and the club. … I’m glad things are wrapped up with the contract and I’m excited to get over there and starting to play some hockey.”

Cazzola had 30 goals and 76 points in 67 regular-season games with the Komets, after a career at Acadia University, and he totaled three goals and eight points in 10 playoff games as the Komets reached the second round.

Soon after the season, word got out that a lucrative offer from Europe would probably draw Cazzola, 26, from North America.

His ECHL rights are maintained and he could someday return to the Komets, who have re-signed Garrett Thompson, Jason Binkley, Ryan Lowney and Mason Baptista for the coming season.

“We’ve been tracking Mike since last summer and keeping in contact. I’d have liked him to be part of least year’s roster,” Edinburgh general manager Scott Neil said in a press release, “I think he was part of the ingredient that was missing. His ECHL statistics last season show you what he brings to a hockey club. (Coach Dmitri Khristich) and I are excited to have added an intelligent, highly skilled, proven point-scoring forward to the roster at this early stage of our recruitment process.”

Undoubtedly, Edinburgh is hoping Cazzola’s production can match what he did with the Komets, with whom he went from a relative unknown to a star. Cazzola, 5-foot-7, will pursuer a master’s degree in physiology while playing in Edinburgh.

“I think I like to have control of the puck and slow the game down,” Cazzola said. “Obviously, I’m not the tallest guy on the ice but I’ve got great speed and I can put the puck in the net, too. I enjoy putting the puck in the net, but if there’s a rebound that’s probably where you’ll end up finding me. … I try to be a two-way player, play defense as best as I can and offense as best as I can. I give it everything I can every night and hopefully I can be rewarded for that.”

Cazzola played three games last season in the American Hockey League for Binghamton and was scoreless.