Seamus Casey was playing for a little something extra this weekend.
As a native of Fort Myers, Florida, the freshman defenseman’s hometown was recently devastated by Hurricane Ian. Unable to return home to help his community, Casey dedicated his play on the ice to those back home.
“I wish I could be there,” Casey said on Oct. 3. “… I know a lot of people down there who lost their homes, so I’ll definitely be thinking of them.”
With his community in mind, Casey delivered. He put the finishing touches on the No. 6 Michigan hockey team’s win over Lindenwood on Saturday, going bar-down to give the Wolverines a two-goal lead in the third period that stood until the final whistle.
In the seconds that followed, Casey skated over to fellow Floridian and freshman forward Gavin Brindley, who assisted on the goal. The pair leapt into the air and hugged each other, sharing the celebration of Casey’s first collegiate goal.
“I was probably more excited than he was,” Brindley said Monday. “… It was like, ‘oh my God.’ I wasn’t really looking, and I just heard the crossbar, bar-down, and was like, ‘oh sh*t.’ ”
Casey’s first goal may have meant extra to him this weekend, but it was far from an emotionally-motivated fluke. Based on everything his teammates have said about him, and the resulting on-ice product thus far, Saturday’s goal will be the first of many.
“He’s an awesome talent,” sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich said after Michigan’s exhibition against Windsor on Oct. 1 — in which Casey scored two goals — while grinning ear to ear. “He’s just real young, real exciting to watch. He’s got unbelievable talent, and he’s just gonna keep getting better.”
Already, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between Casey and now-NHL defenseman Owen Power. Although Casey lacks the pure size that Power has, he brings every ounce of electricity in the offensive zone that Power did. With Casey on the blue line, the Wolverines gain the knack for scoring of an additional top-6 forward and force a massive mismatch.
By pairing Casey with junior defenseman Steve Holtz — a true shutdown defender — Michigan is creating a two-way pair that will give opponents fits. When Casey makes mistakes — and he will, as he continues to adapt to the college level — Holtz will be there to back him up. There will be times when Casey focuses too heavily on his offensive game, leaving holes in the defensive zone. But with Holtz at his side, Casey will have the space to learn from his errors without doing too much tangible damage.
“I’m a little bit more defensive-minded, and I can just let him do his thing offensively,” Holtz said Monday. “Hopefully I can season him a little bit and take him under my wing and show him the way. But as far as offensively, when you play here, they let you do whatever you want on offense, just let your talent come out.”
Just two games into his collegiate career, Casey’s offensive talent is already shining. Including the season-opening exhibition, he has 10 shots and three goals, rapidly establishing his presence in and his importance to the Wolverines’ attack. Even while he continues to learn and improve his defensive play, there’s no concern about whether or not he can contribute on the other side of the puck.
As he scored his first collegiate goal on a bullet of a wrist shot, Casey’s talent was as clear as can be. But to score it during this weekend, off a pass from a teammate experiencing the same tragedy at home, only makes the moment more special for him.
His family, his friends and his community back home can only be proud.
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