DUDLEY – His name is Dante Sousa, but when he’s on the ice, turning away puck after puck, his teammates call him “The Machine.”
Dante, from Dudley, is 11 years old and an outstanding goalie for the Junior Railers hockey team from Worcester. In addition to making saves, this month, “The Machine” is also working hard to help save lives as part of a unique fundraising program.
October Saves is a national initiative involving hockey goalies at every level, from youth leagues to amateur and college and professional levels of the game. Each goalie collects pledges toward the amount of saves they make in the month of October, with all proceeds going to cancer research, particularly breast and pediatric cancer.
Now entering its fifth year, and beginning as a small community effort, October Saves has grown to include 685 players from 155 clubs across North America, from mites to the National Hockey League. Last year, goalies Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer from the NHL’s Washington Capitals and Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues participated.
Dante has dedicated his efforts in October Saves to the memory of his aunt, Maria Catino, who passed away from lymphoma in 2017.
“Maria played a huge role in Dante’s life, from the minute he was born,” said Dante’s mother, Tiffany Sousa. “She gave him a baby blanket when he was in the hospital right after his birth and he still sleeps with it to this day.”
“I lost my aunt to cancer last year, and I want to help find a cure,” said Dante in a recent interview.
Dante is committed to saving as many pucks as he can in memory of his aunt. Every time he straps on his pads, tapes his stick green for lymphoma awareness and skates between the pipes, he knows that all the pledges he gets from his family and friends are going to help find a cure and raise awareness of the disease.
Ms. Catino was diagnosed with lymphoma in February 2017 and lost her battle in December of the same year. She was only 51 years old.
A year ago, Dante participated in October Saves as a way to bring his love and passion of being a hockey goalie together with this thoughts about his aunt and her cancer diagnosis. Channeling his grief in a positive way, he raised $1,052 and made 226 saves in the month. He’s hoping to raise $2,000 this year.
“I like playing goalie,” said Dante in a recent interview. “I’ve been playing that position for about five years now. It keeps me focused and I have to be ready at all times. If I get lazy out there, it’s all on me.”
Last week Dante notched one of his shutouts, this one over the New England Avalanche. “Dante has always been a goalie from the first time he stepped on the ice. He just loves it,” said his mother.
She added, “We’re thankful to October Saves for creating such a powerful platform for goalies in the U.S. and Canada to raise awareness. And we’re thankful to Dante’s teammates and coaches and the entire Junior Railers organization for their support.
“Dante may only be an 11-year-old boy who loves the game of hockey and being a goalie, but he is committed to make saves to save lives.”
For more on Dante, more of his story can be found, here: