2006-07: Stephane Da Costa made a big decision to advance his hockey career by moving to North America from his native France as a 17-year old despite not being able to speak English. He joined the Texas Tornado of the NAHL and finished tied for third in team scoring with 23 goals and 17 assists in 50 games. The NAHL leading scorer this season was Patrick Maroon of the St. Louis Bandits.
2007-08: After one season in the NAHL, the Frenchman made the roster of the Sioux City Musketeers where he tallied 12 goals and added 37 assists in 51 regular season games placing him sixth in team scoring. The Musketeers qualified for the playoffs where Da Costa contributed a goal and two assists in four games before his team was eliminated. He represented France at the 2008 WJHC – Division I in Germany totaling five goals and ten points in five games as his country finished with a 1-4 record.
2008-09: In his second campaign with the Musketeers, Da Costa led his team in scoring with a 31-36-67 clip in 48 regular season games, good enough to finish fifth overall in USHL scoring but not enough to get the Musketeers into the playoffs. Again he played for his home country at the 2009 WJHC – Division I where his four goals and nine assists helped France to improve and go 3-2 in the tournament. The slick center also accompanied his countrymen to the WHC in Switzerland and managed two assists in six games.
2009-10: Da Costa was recruited by many NCAA teams but in the end chose Merrimack College who was the first school that approached him. His freshman season was highlighted by being named the NCAA Hockey Rookie of the Year. His 16 goals and 29 assists included a five-goal game against Army which led the Warriors in scoring and placed him in a tie for seventh place in Hockey East league scoring. At the 2010 WHC in Germany he scored once and added to assists in the five games he suited up for Team France.
2010-11: After rebuffing offers from a number of NHL teams, he returned to Merrimack and again was the catalyst for his team, scoring with 14 goals and 31 assists in just 33 games, while missing some games with a knee injury. The Warriors won a school-record 25 games and received an At-Large bid to complete is the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four tournament for the first time since joining Hockey East eventually losing to Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional. Individually, Da Costa was named to second team All-American and a Hockey East All-Star. He signed with the Ottawa Senators as a free agent and appeared in four NHL games at the end of the season becoming the third French-born and trained NHL player joining Philipe Bozon and Cristobal Huet. At the 2011 WHC in Slovakia, he managed one assist in five games for France to cap off an impressive season.
2011-12: DaCosta began the season with Ottawa, skating in 22 games with the Senators before being sent to AHL Binghamton at the end of November. He scored 3 goals with 2 assists and was minus-nine with 8 penalty minutes, averaging 12 minutes of ice time for Ottawa. DaCosta regained the scoring touch he showed in college hockey playing in the AHL, scoring 13 goals with 23 assists in 46 games for Binghamton. His minus-12 plus/minus was a concern but he was recalled for the NHL playoffs by Ottawa though he did not appear in any games. DaCosta ended the season playing alongside older brother Teddy for France at the 2012 IIHF World Championship. He was the team’s third-leading scorer with 1 goal and 5 assists in seven games as France finished ninth. DaCosta was re-signed by the Senators as a restricted free agent to a one-year contract in July of 2012.
2012-13: Da Costa appeared in nine games with the Senators in his second pro season, spending most of the year with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton. He was with Ottawa in February after opening the year with Binghamton during the lockout and scored 1 goal with 1 assist, finishing -3 and averaging 12 minutes of ice time. Da Costa shared the scoring lead for Binghamton with Mark Stone. In 57 AHL games he scored 13 goals with 25 assists and was+14 with 26 penalty minutes. Binghamton was second in the East Division and had the AHL’s fourth-best record before being swept by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a first round series. Da Costa had 1 assist and was an even plus/minus in three playoff games. He was re-signed by Ottawa to a one-year contract as a free agent in August of 2013.
There is much to like about his game starting with his great vision, superior passing skills, slick puck-handling ability and high-end shot. The elusiveness and anticipation he possesses combined with his natural feel for creating offense give him a skill package that compensates for his deficiencies; speed, strength and defensive play. Factors that can’t be overlooked are his determination to improve his weaknesses and his willingness to commit to the journey that landed him an NHL opportunity.
Da Costa is likely playing for Binghamton in the AHL for the 2013-14 season, but may see some time with the Senators.