Sault Ste. Marie native Rico Fata, who was a first-round pick in both the Ontario Hockey League and the National Hockey League, has joined the Batchewana Attack of the new Canadian International Hockey League as its skills and skating coach.
Batchewana is one of eight teams in the CIHL currently slated to take to the ice in 2014-2015 as part of an Ontario-based junior league that is sanctioned by the United Hockey Union under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union.
Enter Fata to the Attack.
“Bringing in Rico as our skills and skating coach will be very important for the development of our young players. To have someone like Rico, who was such a skilled player and a great skater, is really going to help our program,” said David Maciuk, president and director of hockey operations for the Attack, which will play out of Rankin Arena on First Nation land in Sault Ste. Marie effective the 2014-2015 season.
The 34-year old Fata was the first overall pick of the London Knights at the 1996 OHL draft and the sixth overall selection by the Calgary Flames at the 1998 NHL draft.
Fata played in 230 games with five NHL teams before heading overseas to play in Switzerland and Finland for seven years.
He retired at the end of the 2013-2014 season and returned home to the Soo to start Fast by Fata Hockey Academy.
His best NHL season was the 2003-2004 campaign when he scored 16 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fata said he is all for the development of Sault Ste. Marie hockey talent, which is why he has hooked up with the new Batchewana junior team.
“It’s exciting be a part of this,” Fata said of his involvement with the Attack. “Dave (Maciuk) called and asked me to help out and I am happy to do so.
“I started the Fast by Fata Hockey Academy because I want to help with the skills and skating development of young hockey players in Sault Ste. Marie,” Fata told HockeyNewsNorth.com. “We don’t seem to be developing as many young hockey players from the Soo as we were when I was a kid.”