Tag Archives: Commitment

Adrian Danchenko Commits to Alabama-Huntsville

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

With the 2018-19 junior hockey season around the corner, Adrian Danchenko has announced his commitment to the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers for the 2019-20 season. The Chargers are an NCAA division one program playing out of the WCHA.

“Huntsville has a renowned engineering school that is really important to me,” said Danchenko of his home-to-be. “The hockey side is only getting better, and with the coaching staff there, I believe we’ll take a big step with the program.”

The Chargers have been a member of division one hockey since the 1998-99 season. Their first stint in DI came in 1988-92. In the years since, they’ve won their regular season conference title twice, their postseason conference championship twice, and qualified for the NCAA tournament twice at the division one level.

The school was a division II power house between the years of 1993-1997, appearing in four national championships in five seasons, winning two. The most famous among their many successful alumni is current Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot.

For his part, Danchenko has spent years and developing in the Knights hockey program, dating back to the NAPHL stage of his career. After making his NAHL debut with the organization in 2016, Danchenko has gone on to record 18 goals and 30 assists in 118 games played.

“It’s been extremely rewarding to watch Adrian Danchenko grow up in this program,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “From the early days in the NAPHL to coaching him the past two years in the NAHL, he’s consistently been one of the most improved players in our organization. He’s a great example of where hard work and talent can take you, and I know he’s only going to continue to get better.”

Danchenko was a key forward for the Knights last season, more than doubling his NAHL rookie season’s point total, recording 12 goals and 20 assists in 55 regular season games. His efforts earned him a place at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February.

“The NAPHL and the NAHL were the leagues that developed me into the hockey player I am now,” said Danchenko. “That’s thanks to all the great teams and events the league has to offer.”

The impressive season culminated in Danchenko’s selection by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the 2018 USHL Entry Draft.

“The Chargers are getting a big player that can use his speed and vision to make plays happen,” said Danchenko of what he’ll bring to the college game. “I can play both sides of the puck and use my skill up the ice.”

“I know I speak for our entire staff when I say that Alabama-Huntsville is getting a really good player in Adrian,” said Kowal. “He’s worked hard to get to this point, and he’s earned a spot at the top level of college hockey. We thank him for what’s he’s contributed on and off the ice for our program. I wish him the best of luck going forward in hockey and in life.”

“My biggest takeaway in my time with the Knights was that persistence is key, and going through the program you have to step it up to the next level,” said Danchenko. “Playing older players every year made me more mature and has helped me to become a role model and a leader. I feel that I’ve grown not only as a player but as a person too.”

Danchenko is the 18th player from last year’s roster to commit to a college, and the 13th heading to a division one school from that team. The Knights organization thanks Adrian for his many years with their program. They will be eagerly following and rooting for him every step of the way moving forward!

Christian Stoever Commits to Merrimack College

When the Knights selected Christian Stoever in the third round of the 2017 NAHL Draft, they knew they had found an asset between the pipes.

“Christian is a super-talented, young goaltender that will be able to jump in and play juniors right away,” said Knights assistant GM Justin Schreiber following the Knights final pick. “We are very excited about Christian’s future and his time in the Knights crease.”

The 2000-born netminder went on to win 21 total games through his rookie campaign and proved to be a linchpin for the Knights NAHL postseason run. His body of work earned him a spot on the NAHL’s All-East Division Rookie team and a pair of games in the USHL.

“I’d describe my style of play as aggressive,” said Stoever. “I like to play the puck a lot. I get into playing and helping out my teammates. I’m definitely a competitive kid on the ice. I’m on the big side at 6-2. I can stand my ground when I need to. I like to assert my game around my angles and my positioning.”

“Christian played a big part in winning the East Division in playoffs this past season, and going to the Robertson Cup Final Four,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He’s the type of player that steps up when the lights shine the brightest and when the stage is the biggest. He’s the type of goalie that can steal a game or backstop a winning streak. He did both for us this year.”

On Tuesday, Stoever announced his commitment to Merrmiack College, an NCAA Div. I program that competes in the Hockey East Association. The Massachusetts-based college won a division II national championship in 1977-78 before jumping to division I in 1984. Since then, the college has produced a number of alumni that went on to play in the NHL, including journeymen like defensemen John Jakopin and Steve McKenna, among others.

Stepping into the role of head coach for the Warriors this season is Scott Borek, an alumni of Dartmouth with years of division one coaching experience, something that stuck with Stoever during the recruiting process.

“I really was impressed with the coaching staff,” he said. “They made me feel wanted. They have  a lot of experience at the division one level and they let me know they wanted me to play for Merrimack. I’m excited to develop my game there. Hopefully that leads to getting an opportunity to one day signing a pro contract somewhere and fulfill my dream of playing pro hockey.”

2017-18  was a first for Stoever as well, as the 2017-18 was his first season of junior hockey. After playing in 43 regular and postseason games, the goalie has gained an appreciation for what the North American Hockey League has done for his development.

“Having played one year in the NAHL, I’d definitely recommend it to future junior players. “I feel like it has gotten me ready for the USHL and ready to make that jump, and then after that make another jump to college hockey.

His well-documented performance in the playoffs this past season goes down as the best in the Knights brief NAHL history, as Stoever moves forward as the organization’s all-time  NAHL leader in playoff minutes (539), games played (9), wins (6), GAA (1.89), and save percentage (.949).

“It definitely raised my confidence a lot, just showing what we could do as a team,” said Stoever of the Knights postseason effort. “I’m not sure if I’d be in this situation right now if not for that run. I’m thankful for it, thankful for the teammates, and how we all played and stepped up. It was definitely a good last month and a half with everyone.”

When asked to describe his favorite part of being a Knight, Stoever echoed the sentiment of others players moving on this summer in his appreciation for the chemistry his teammates shared.

“Probably the guys,” he said of what he’d miss most. “Even though it was only one year, I think we made too many memories just to pick one favorite. It had to be my teammates. We all still talk every day. I definitely love those guys.”

Through it all, Stoever understands who’s helped him along the way, particularly those who have been in his corner since day one.

“My dad,” he said. “He’s been around my entire hockey career. He’s definitely spent a lot of money on me over the years, moving from Florida to Michigan just for hockey. He made a lot of sacrifices along with my whole family so I could play hockey.”

“We’re here to move all our players onto the next level of hockey, but they can also help move your program forward,” said Kowal. “Christian was a big part of a big step forward for our organization in the playoffs this past season. He’s an incredibly talented goalie who has the potential to add even bigger things to his resume as he continues to develop. I’m proud of what he’s accomplished for us and for himself. I wish him the best of luck at Merrimak and I can’t wait to see where his career takes him.”

The Knights thank Christian for the time and effort he contributed to the team, and wish him nothing but the best as he moves forward in his career and education!

Knights Goalie Jared Stahel Commits to IUP Crimson Hawks

Knights goalie Jared Stahel has committed to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Crimson Hawks have two hockey teams that compete at the DI and DIII levels in the ACHA. Stahel played the 2017-18 season for the Knights in the EHL. The Texas-born netminder is excited thrilled to join IUP this fall, as the Crimson Hawks division I team looks to build off of an 11-win season.

“I got a call from one of my friends, Trent Bubanic,” Stahel said. “He’s a former teammate of mine and played a very big role in turning me on to the school. He had just committed there. I went up and saw it and it was absolutely incredible. It has a beautiful campus with brand new housing, and a very social student body. Everybody was really nice. I’m entering their business school, the Eberly College of Business, which is ranked third in Pennsylvania.”

Stahel played 1431 minutes in 25 games for the Knights in the EHL this season, picking up 11 wins and three shutouts.

“I feel playing in the EHL really helped me deal with the speed of the game,” Stahel said. “It’s a lot faster than Texas hockey and the USPHL, where I had played before. I have been to DI and DIII clinics before and after playing in the EHL, and before I was just kind of there. After, I feel like I’ve gotten faster playing in the net, and playing the puck.”

Stahel looks forward to bringing his highly-energetic style to IUP.

“I play with a Texas-sized attitude,” he said. “I bring a little ‘Yee-haw!’ to the crease and I really enjoy it. Being a Knight helped me have more fun and helped me be less tense out there. Joe Ford, the head coach at IUP is a younger, newer coach, who’s open-minded. That’s really important to me.”

“Jared’s extremely passionate about hockey,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “He brings a lot of emotion to the game. It goes to show when you come here and put the work in, good things happen and Jared is a great example of that. I’m very happy for him.”

Stahel was quick to thank the Knights staff for their tutelage this past year.

“I just want to thank Coach Fusco and Coach Tom Kowal for bringing me in and giving me a chance to play.”

“It’s a product of the work we do here,” said Fusco of his goalie’s college commitment. “I’m excited to see Jared moving on to pursue his goals both academically and on the ice. I wish him the best of luck!”

Paul Cimilluca Commits to Wilkes University

Knights defenseman Paul Cimilluca committed to the Wilkes University Colonels on Monday. The 97-born defenseman will start his college career next year with the Colonels in their inaugural season in NCAA division III.

“I like that it was close to home,” said Cimilluca of Wilkes’ nearby campus. “It’s a college community, there are something like 10 schools around the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area and a lot of life. It’s a good place for a school, especially in division three. They’re a small school, investing in itself and their sports programs.”

The Colonels will be coached in their first season by Brett Riley, a former forward for Hobart College.

“Coach Riley is a young up-and-comer,” said Cimilluca. “He’s got an impressive history-he turned Albany Academy around in his last job. He comes from a great hockey family with a lot of ties to Army and the collegiate level. His father coached at Army and his grandfather coached both there and Team USA to a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. Needless to say Coach Riley knows his hockey. He’s 100% all-in. That really was the biggest reason I committed to Wilkes.”

Cimilluca is in his second season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights after being a  second-round selection in the Knights 2016 NAHL draft class. The New Jersey native has compiled 15 points in 82 games with the team, playing minutes in all situations.

“Paul has been a great competitor for us from day one,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He brings a steady, physical game to our blue line and he enjoys challenging the other teams’ top players. That’s the attitude we want from our defensemen. As a veteran he’s also done a nice job introducing younger guys on our team to the style of play and toughness that is needed to play in the NAHL.”

“I owe it all to the NAHL,” said Cimilluca. “They’re arguably one of the best leagues in junior hockey. The top-end teams can compete with teams in the USHL. You have a lot of older junior players that are going to be division one or high-end division three guys. I think that really helps me heading into college, having competed against guys who will be playing at the same or higher levels of hockey. Battling against D-I guys like Jack Olmstead, Tyrone Bronte, Reed Robinson, Justin Engelkes, Anthony Firriolo, Gabe Temple every day in practice-that’s been the best thing for me. It gives me a lot of confidence, knowing I’ve prepared myself against that level of talent.”

Cimilluca will finish out his final months as a junior hockey player with the Knights, a team hungry for success in their third year in the NAHL. He is committed to helping them achieve the highest of their goals.

“I want to be a Robertson Cup Champion, plain and simple,” he said.

“I’m proud to see Paul commit to Wilkes,” said Kowal. “They’re getting a strong player and leader for their first NCAA season and beyond. With him going to school just a few minutes away, it won’t be hard to root for Paul. I look forward to following his college career!”

“I’d really like to thank all the coaches that helped me get to this point in my career, especially Hockey Essentials, The New Jersey Avalanche organization, Bloodline Hockey, and the WBS coaching staff,” said Cimilluca. “I’m looking forward to making an impact at Wilkes University.”

The Knights organization is happy to congratulate Paul on his commitment and thank him for his years of hard work and play on the ice. They are excited to root for him throughout his collegiate career!

Khristian Acosta Commits to UMass Minutemen

After a trade to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights last October, Khristian Acosta’s ride through junior hockey has been one of continued success.

After his move to the NAHL, Acosta quickly established himself as one of the team’s most dangerous offensive weapons. In just his first 10 games, Acosta totaled six goals and seven assists on his way to a seven-game scoring streak.

“The boys were really welcoming,” said Acosta of his early days with the Knights “They took me in right away. Coach Tom and Coach Andrew were great. They all helped me get comfortable quickly.”

The forward from Middletown, New Jersey would prove that his early offensive returns were no fluke.  In 34 games with the Knights he was more than a point per game player as he picked up a stat line of 12-23-35.

“The NAHL is easily one of the best junior leagues,” said Acosta. “All you have to do is look at the number of college commits to get an idea of what kind of league this is. It builds great character and it’s a level of competition that’s prepared me for the USHL and has helped ready me for my college career.”

It didn’t take long for Acosta’s torrid play to attract attention from the USHL. Following a goal and assist performance against his hometown New Jersey Titans, Acosta was traded to the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. In 20 games to close out 2016-17 he scored one goal and 12 assists.

Moving forward Acosta has his sights set on division one hockey. The 98 birth year has committed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, beginning in the 2018-19 season.

“Definitely the tradition,” said Acosta on what attracted him to the Minutemen program. “They have a pretty new coaching staff, they play in the best conference in college hockey. They really have a beautiful campus and it’s a great place for me to pursue a business major.”

The Minutemen play in the Hockey East Conference, home to such household names as Boston College, Boston University, and Notre Dame. With origins dating back to 1908, Massachusetts Amherst alumni list isn’t short on proud history either, boasting recent alumni like Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary, Bruins forward Fran Vatrano and Sharks defenseman Justin Braun among many others.

“I’m looking forward to helping make the Minutemen into a powerhouse program,” said Acosta of his soon-to-be home.

Though his stay wasn’t long, Acosta certainly left a great impression on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton organization. He emphasizes the same could be said of its effect on him.

“I had a great billet family; they’re like second family to me-we keep in touch all the time,” he said. “I had a lot of fun hanging out with the boys, winning a lot of games. I think my favorite memory might have to be when we won to get back over .500. That was pretty special.”

Not lost on Acosta were the efforts of those that he encountered in his time with the Knights.

“I just want to thank the Knights organization, coaches, staff and teammates for helping in my development. They’re a great organization.”

The Knights for their part are happy to have had Khristian as a member of their team and wish the best of luck moving forward with his hockey career.