Thomas Walker is getting ready to start his second season with the Knights organization, but before the season’s first puck drop, the goalie announced some exciting news. Starting in the fall of 2019, Walker will join the Albertus Magnus Falcons in their inaugural season playing NCAA DIII hockey.
“I like the atmosphere-it’s right around Yale and Quinnipiac, so it’s a good college town,” said Walker of his future home. “The people are great, the head coach, the assistant coach, they’re just nice people, great people. To visit a school and find out it’s a small school-that’s what I was interested in because that’s the kind of high school I went to. Everything about the college just kinda sucked me in and I fell in love with it.”
Located in southern Connecticut, Albertus Magnus recently gained approval to join NCAA Division III hockey as an independent school in 2019-20. Kyle Wallack will man the bench after serving as an assistant coach for the University of Vermont. Wallack has coached the past 21 years primarily as an at NCAA Division I level, along with stops along the way in DIII, the ACHA and USHL.
“With it being a new program it just excited me to be part of a start, setting the groundwork for them to be successful for many years to come,” said Walker. “Hopefully we’ll be in the record books getting the first winning season and being a part of all that interesting stuff.”
Walker spent his first year of junior hockey as the backstop in 28 games for the Knights. He recorded a 2.86 goals against average and a .899 save percentage in the 2017-18 regular season.
“I think it helped me playing against older competition,” said Walker of his first season in the EHL. “It made me have to adjust, get stronger and faster because everybody shoots harder and moves quicker and passes are crisper and everything just moves at a higher speed. I’ve just had to adjust to that, and hopefully with another year under my belt, I’ll be even more prepared and be able to just keep improving.”
What can Falcons fans expect from their future goalie?
“I’m a battler,” he said. “That’s my big thing. I’m never gonna give up. I’ve kinda learned more and more as we keep going that you just have to battle and keep going. I’m not the quickest, not the biggest, but I’ll definitely battle from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, all season long. I’m not going to complain about anything. I’m ready to play whenever, wherever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m just going to battle.”
“The best way start to training camp when you have players reporting already committing to school,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “It goes to show the success were having here with our players and more importantly it shows they trust the process.”
For all his growth in his first season with the Knights, it says a lot about Walker that his favorite memories are not individual highlights, but ones belonging to last year’s fellow goalie, Jared Stahel, along with another team accomplishment from 2017-18.
“My favorite would probably be the December showcase last year,” he said. “We were just starting to hit our stride. We were able to play well enough to beat the Avs, then Stahel got the first team shutout against the Wolves going into Christmas break so we were on a nice little hot streak beating the eventual champions and then getting the first shutout for the team so that was a good start. Kinda went on a streak there and got a little hot, so that was probably my favorite memory so far.”
For all that lies ahead, Walker isn’t looking too far beyond the upcoming season with the Knights in the EHL. His sights are set firmly on improving on his consistency before heading off to school.
“I want to be better for the length of the whole year. Last year, I thought I had a pretty slow start, and then a decent middle, and then slowed down again at the end. I’m looking to have a complete season and go farther in the playoffs than we did.”
“I’m really excited for Walks,” said Fusco. “It’s pretty awesome because it shows the dedication he has put in to his game, the dedication he has to our program and more importantly how he has trusted the process over the past year with his development.”
Ever the team player, Walker was quick to thank those who have made his commitment a reality.
“Definitely a big thanks to my family for all their support and my friends back home for helping me grinding through this junior year, being supportive. Obviously thanks to the Knights organization and everything they’ve done, coach Fusco for helping me improve, and my teammates for playing well enough in front of me to get a college interested in me, so just a big thanks to everyone that’s helped.”
The Knights congratulate Thomas on his well-deserved college commitment and look forward to his upcoming season and rooting for him in his future hockey career and beyond!