Charles Dagostin would like to heat up the ice for the Cariboo Cougars this season.
The 17 year old grew up in the bush outside of Dawson City, Yukon - 540 kilometres north of Whitehorse - was among the 45 players invited back to the B.C. Major Midget League team's final camp, Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, at CN Centre.
"The third time's the charm; I'm hoping I make it this year," said Dagostin about getting cut from the Cougars camp the past two seasons. "I always enjoy coming here. It's always a fun time especially coming from the north. The competitive level is so much higher."
Dagostin left home for Whitehorse when he was 13 in order advance his hockey career.
"My parents sacrificed a lot for me," said Dagostin. "I wanted to succeed further in hockey and Dawson City wasn't doing it so they moved down to Whitehorse with me and let me play.
"I actually moved away in Grade 8 and played bantam B hockey before making the A team," he added.
After two seasons playing with the Whitehorse Mustangs in the senior men's recreation league, Dagostin spent last season playing Tier 1 hockey in Fort St. John with the Trackers.
"It was actually a coincidence because my buddy called me up - I was planning on staying in Whitehorse another year - and said, hey, they need some players come down and tryout," said Dagostin. "I decided to go down and it worked out for the best.
"It gave me a lot of insight because you're playing hockey everyday and you're always on the ice so your skills get better and you get in better shape," he added.
In 2011 he played for Team Yukon's men's hockey team at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax and also played in the One Hockey Elite tournament that same year.
Cougars head coach Trevor Sprague said he likes Dagostin's willingness to work hard.
"He's got great persistence and he carries himself well and he represents his community and his association very well," said Sprague. "It's a great opportunity for him to come here and try out, hopefully he's one of the top 20 guys.
"He's got good consistency with what he's doing with the puck and makes good decisions," he added. "He's a guy that's always been in the mix and he's just got to do the little things better."
Dagostin credits his upbringing where they had no water or electricity with teaching him about hard work.
"We kind of lived in the bush in a log cabin that my dad built," said Dagostin. "It's hard sometimes but you get used to it. I actually really enjoyed it. It's probably where I get my hard work ethic.
"We'd take a ferry back and forth to our cabin so when the winter comes we have to wait for the ice bridge to form before we can actually cross. It's about a month or two where we're cutoff from town. No hockey unless we get an apartment in town and live in town for a bit. Otherwise we're just stuck at home."
In order to get to the arena in Dawson City, Dogostin has to walk, run or cycle up 35-grade hill, four kms before hockey practice and then make the trek back after.
Dawson City has a population of about 1,000 in January which balloons to about 3,500 during the summer months due to the gold rush. But, Dagostin didn't see any ice time this summer until he attended the Cougars August camp during the long weekend.
"This camp is the first time I've been on the ice in about three months," said Dagostin. "I've just been trying to train by myself. It's hard because we don't get the ice. We have a rink that should be setup for artificial ice but it's not working the way it should be."
A defensive defenceman by nature during one of the scrimmages in August Dagostin showed he has some offensive abilities.
"It was kind of a spur of the moment," he said about an end-to-end rush where he scored a goal. "I just saw the ice was open and I went with the puck."
The 45 Cougars hopefuls will see game action in three scrimmages, 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. Saturday, followed by a Sunday session from 9-11 a.m. before Sprague reduces the roster to 25 for the team's exhibition season. Cariboo plays it's first preseason game in Chase on Sept. 6 against the Thompson Blazers.
Dagostin said if he doesn't make the final cut with the Cougars he'll probably return to Fort St. John for a second season with the Trackers.
"I'd like to take hockey into university, maybe get a scholarship or something," said Dagostin. "We'll see."