Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Josh Zary battles with Nick Marciano of the Cowichan Valley Capitals during a game in Duncan on Oct. 1, 2021. Zary has been named an alternate captain for the Bulldogs for the 2021-22 season. (KEVIN ROTHBAUER / BLACK PRESS)

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Josh Zary battles with Nick Marciano of the Cowichan Valley Capitals during a game in Duncan on Oct. 1, 2021. Zary has been named an alternate captain for the Bulldogs for the 2021-22 season. (KEVIN ROTHBAUER / BLACK PRESS)

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs name leadership team ahead of 2021-22 season

Stephen Castagna is the club’s newest captain

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have named Stephen Castagna as the club’s new captain.

Castagna will be joined by fellow veterans Ryan Nause, Josh Van Unen and Josh Zary as assistant captains.

Bulldogs head coach and general manager Joe Martin named the leadership group in advance of the 2021-2022 BCHL regular season.

“We’ve got a lot of experience with this group,” said Martin in a press release. “They play the game with a lot of passion, practice very competitively and are outstanding teammates to their peers. All four of them have a determination to win this year and when it’s all said and done, their jerseys will be hung up better than how they found them.”

READ MORE: New faces take the ice during Alberni Valley Bulldogs preseason action

The newly minted captain brings 138 BCHL games over parts of 4 seasons with the Bulldogs. Castagna first broke into the BCHL back in 2017-2018 when he suited up in five games. In his BCHL career, Castagna has 30 goals and 43 assists. During the 2020-2021 “pod” season, Castagna broke out with 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in just 20 games and earned a commitment to Bentley University.

Partnering with Castagna on the Bulldogs top line last season was Josh Van Unen. After 42 games with the Merritt Centennials, Van Unen joined the Bulldogs and posted five goals and 25 assists in the pod season as he exploded on the scene. Van Unen will enter this season with expectations to pick up where he left off last spring.

After missing extended time recovering from surgery, Josh Zary missed all of the 2020-2021 “pod” season. The Nanaimo native returns looking to build on his 10 goal, 10 assist effort in 2019.

The final assistant captain position was awarded to Ryan Nause, who joined the Bulldogs last year and produced nicely on the back end in the “pod” season. Nause had two goals and 12 assists and will be the leader of a solid but younger defence corps for the Bulldogs this season.

ICE CHIPS…The Bulldogs finished their preseason last weekend with a 5-1 record and a three-game winning streak. The Bulldogs kick off the regular season with a game in Victoria on Friday, Oct. 8. Their home opener will take place on Friday, Oct. 15.

Alberni Valley BulldogsBCHL