Tag Archives: Mason Klee

Knights Roster Breakdown III: Back End Reinforced by New Arrivals

With more than half the back end turned over from last season, the Knights excited by defensive additions

Continuity has been a theme for the Knights and the players protecting their defensive zone over the past two years. Names like Dorian Dawson, Tim Gelatt, Elijah Latimer, and Grant Valentine have been regular since the start of the Knights arrival to the NAHL. That’s all set to change as Gelatt, Latimer, and Valentine head to college, while Dawson attempts to make the USHL.

That list of names includes the team’s number one goalie for the past two years, last season’s top defenseman, its most recent captain, and one of the Knights program’s original players.

Needless to say, the team has an important task ahead in replacing some of its core defensive players. With expectations high, the staff is confident that the players that can are among those they’ve brought in this offseason.

“We’re really happy with some of the defensemen we’ve added to the roster this year,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “This year, I think the biggest thing we wanted to improve on is size. I think we have some bigger, stronger defensemen this year.”

The International Pool

Cory Ellerton is the lone defenseman from abroad vying for one of the four import spots on the Knights roster.

From Pointe-Claire Quebec, Ellerton is a big-bodied, left-handed shot with an interesting blend of speed and strength. The 20-year old is coming off a season in the NOJHL where he scored two goals and 11 assists in 46 games with the Espanola Express.

He flashed at both ends of the ice at camp, but added a few productive shifts in the offensive zone tallying a goal and an assist.

The Tendered Defensemen

The Knights tender class continued its strong showing as Tom Farrell and Blake Kryska both turned in strong performances at main camp.

“Two guys who have really stood out this camp are Thomas Farrell and Blake Kryska,” said Whiteside back at main camp. “They’re exceeding our expectations right now, and we’re looking forward to big things out of them.”

“I’d say I’m more of a two-way defenseman,” said Farrell when asked about his skillset. “I’m more offensive-I like to join the play a lot. I just try to shut the opposition as much as possible.”

Farrell affiliated with the team last season. His playing time included valuable minutes in the Robertson Cup playoffs in which he did not look out of place. The big righty looks to make himself a regular in the Knights line up.

“Thomas’ elite skating ability and vision are his best attributes,” said Whiteside. “We feel his game will translate extremely well at the NAHL level and above.”

Kryska started off quickly at camp, scoring three goals in his first three games. His size, strength, and past NAHL experience will make him a strong candidate to push for a roster spot in 2017-18.

“Blake’s a steady presence on the blue line and his decision-making skills with the puck are beyond his age,” said Whiteside. “We expect Blake to log a ton of minutes on our back end this year.”

Luke Robinson wasn’t at main camp, but affiliated with the Knights last season, playing enough to warrant a comfort level with the Knights staff over his abilities.

“Luke is a big, physical presence in his own zone and has the skating ability to jump in and join the rush if the opportunity presents itself,” said Schreiber. “Luke’s hockey IQ is probably his biggest strength as he keeps it simple and minimizes mistakes.”

Robinson displayed his consistency in his prior league, playing in a total of 72 games over his past two seasons in the T1EHL U16, scoring 3-7-10 in 2015-16 and 1-8-9 in 2016-17, supporting the offensive dimension he has, accompanying his intelligence and physicality.

Camp Invites

Across the board, the Knights staff consistently praised the depth of their camp roster as more than a handful of invites will make their way back to compete at training camp.

Paul Luebke will be among those returning. The Wisconsin-native contributed two goals and an assist at main camp and has been a consistent performer in the USPHL prior to this season.

Hunter Macy was another steady defender throughout camp. With the Delbarton School in the USHS he scored 10 goals and 28 assists in 59 games over the last two years.

2000 birth year Jake Sandomeno was among the more productive defensemen in camp, scoring three goals and playing in the maximum of five games. In addition to a steady shot, the right-handed defender showed speed and a willingness to pinch hard from the blue line.

Goalies

With all goalies from the 2016-17 roster now departed, the Knights are taking all applications to take charge in net for the upcoming season.

Their most familiar choice is the former first overall pick from the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft. With the Northeast Generals last season, Dave Tomeo stood out in a late-season contest against the Knights in which he made a handful of dazzling saves.

Now a tender for the Knights, Tomeo flashed again flashed his abilities at main camp. His most spectacular moment came on a leaping effort from his knees, deflecting a puck wide of the net while tangled amongst several bodies in the crease. His habit for regularly making saves ‘he’s not supposed to be able to make,’ highlights his name as one to watch moving forward.

“David is a goaltender that comes with junior experience in both the USHL and the NAHL,” said Whiteside. “He has won at every level and we expect him to have a significant impact in our crease right away.”

Morgan Kelly, a ’98 who played in the T1EHL and BCHL last year, performed admirably through five games at camp-including both all-star games-as the California native looks to stick in Pennsylvania on his cross-country voyage.

Kevin Lake is from either further west than Kelly, and likewise would like to make the most of air miles by finding a home with the Knights. The big, 6-4 netminder is coming off an NA3HL season in which he appeared in 27 games for two separate teams.

USHL

Two players the Knights could add to their defense are third-round netminder Christian Stoever, who was taken in the 2016 USHL Futures Draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers, and fourth-round defenseman Mason Klee, a 2016 USHL Entry Draft selection by the Lincoln Stars.  Both will attempt to make their respective USHL teams in their camps in the coming weeks. Should they be released, the Knights would have the right to add them to their NAHL roster.

As a ’99 birth year who’s played the last two years in the T1EHL, Klee’s drawn attention for his ability to play a 200-foot game.

“Mason is a versatile defenseman that can make plays at both ends of the ice,” said Schreiber. “We valued his skating ability and his poise to keep things simple and not make mistakes under pressure.”

With the aforementioned job openings in the Knights crease, Christian Stoever has the talent to make a strong case for the position. Standing at 6-3, 165 pounds, the 17-year old showed athleticism and sharp reflexes over four games at Knights main camp, impressing the staff with his consistency and poise, and most importantly, his immense upside.

Like Klee, Stoever is a veteran of the T1EHL and spent last season as a teammate to Knights first-round pick Gabe Temple.

The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.

 

Eight Picks Complete Knights 2017 Draft Class

The Knights crossed two major items off their offseason checklist following Tuesday’s NAHL Entry Draft. With eight new draft picks in the fold, the team is another step closer to completing construction of their 2017-18 roster.

“It was a good week,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “Between finishing out our tender class and our draft class, we’ve added some impressive talent to bring to camp.”

With the 12th overall selection in the draft, the Knights made Gabe Temple, a right-handed forward from Fowlerville, Michigan, their first pick.

“Gabe is a skilled, gritty forward,” said Knights NAHL assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “He’s an impressive skater; he plays bigger than his size, and he’s ahead of the curve with his hockey smarts.”

The 2000 birth year, already standing at 6 feet and 183-pounds, made a name for himself playing in the T1EHL U16 for Victory Honda U16 last season. He scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 32 regular season games and built on that with 2-7-9 in four playoff games.

Turning 17 in just two weeks, the Knights top pick is already committed to playing division one hockey for Michigan Tech in the WCHA.

“Gabe  projects as an impact player,” said Whiteside. “That blend talent and want-to is something we value highly on our team.”

The Knights dipped into a talented pool of offensive prospects again by taking Justin Engelkes, a left-handed forward from Verona, Wisconsin in round two. Another 2000-born prospect, Engelkes’ potential has earned him a college commitment to Miami University (Ohio).

“Justin is another quality two-way forward that plays the NAHL-style game,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He plays a very aggressive, physical style of hockey and can put the puck in the net as well.”

At 5-11, 185 and still room to grow, Engelkes brings with him the valuable experience of playing 37 games for Team Wisconsin U16 last year. That was supplemented by six games in the USHS and five games at the USA-S16 development camp in which he scored three goals and three assists in five games played.

In round three, the Knights spent the first of two picks on Riley Prattson, a ’99 forward from the Selects Hockey Academy 18U. With the selection, the Knights added a third player already-committed to play division one hockey. Set to skate for Providence College in 2018-19, Prattson immediately brings scoring touch to the Knights roster.

“He’s a fast, skilled scorer,” said Whiteside. “He might not be the biggest player, but his speed and ability to get up ice and make plays with the puck are dangerous.”

A right-handed shot, Prattson has been an offensive asset every stop of the way in his young hockey career, most recently scoring four goals and seven assists in five games played in the USPHL 18U.

The California-native has partaken in USA Selects Development Camps in each of the last three years. This past trip saw him pick up four goals and three helpers in five contests.

After Prattson was taken with the 57th pick, the Knights used pick number 58  on goalie Christian Stoever.

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

Stoever joins Gabe Temple as the second member of Victory Honda U16 to join the Knights roster, where Stoever played in 19 games last season.

With an 8-6-1 record and a 2.74 GAA, the Northville, Michigan-native will have an opportunity to help fill the crease following the departure of Grant Valentine.

The fourth round saw the Knights add Mason Klee as the lone blue-liner in the team’s 2017 draft class. A two-year veteran of the Colorado Thunderbirds, Klee built off a strong U16 season in 2015-16 with an even more productive U18 performance last year.

With four goals and nine assists in 31 games, the righty, ’99 birth year proved his dependability is not limited to his own end of the ice.

“Mason is a versatile defenseman that can make plays at both ends of the ice,” said Schreiber. “We valued his skating ability and his poise to keep things simple and not make mistakes under pressure.”

In round five, the Knights went back to the offense, bolstering their forecheck with the addition of Lincoln Hatten. A 2000-birth year with a 6 foot 2 inch frame, Hatten makes an impact with his physicality up and down the ice.

“He’s a player who got better every time we evaluated him,” said Whiteside. “He’s a skilled, big forward and stood out on one of the better midget rosters in the country.”

Hatten scored nine goals and 12 assists in 21 regular season games for the Dallas Stars U16 team in the T1EHL in 2016-17. He added two more assists in the playoffs, confirming the right-handed shot’s ability to contribute consistently in the offensive zone.

With their sixth round pick, the Knights added another righty forward in Tucker Chapman. Chapman has spent the last five years as a mainstay for the Lourdes Eagles of the USHS, finishing 2nd in school history in games played (128), 3rd in goals (60), 5th in assists (44) and 4th in points (104) per eliteprospects.com.

“Tucker is a skilled forward that uses his elite skating ability to create space for himself on the rush,” said Schreiber. “We expect Tucker to come in and contribute for the Knights right away.”

In the seventh round, the Knights made their final selection with the pick of Shawn Kennedy.

“Shawn is a player that’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas” said Whiteside. “He’s big, he plays a mature game, and he’ll take the puck right to the net.”

Coming off back-to-back years as a CCHL Champion with the Carleton Place Canadians, the Ontario-native has been a consistent producer of points and minutes. In 127 games over the past two seasons, Kennedy has recorded 27 goals and 38 assists between the regular season and playoffs.

“He’s a big, power, two-way forward with a really high upside.”

With the eight draft picks and ten tenders, the Knights have completed their 30-man protected list this week by adding 11 forwards, five defensmen and two goaltenders.

“We feel good about the balance of this group in their ages, talents and past experience,” said Kowal of his new crop of players. “Having a lot of guys with multiple years of junior eligibility left gives our coaches a lot of upside to work with.”

Of the 18 players added from the draft and tender process, there are four players born in 1998, seven in 1999, and seven in 2000.

“We have a good veteran core coming back from last year’s team. Four of our tenders played and practiced with our NAHL team last year and another played in our division. Between our staff and having those veterans to help teach these younger players really gives us confidence in their development and how our roster is shaping up heading into next season.”

With much of the offseason major lifting under way there’s still much work to be done. The Knights will host an Open Camp in St. Paul, Minnesota June 16th to the 18th, open to any 1997-2001 birth year interested in trying out for the Knights.

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The Knights will then hold an invite-only main camp from their home rink of the Revolution Ice Centre from July 20-23rd as they fill out the rest of their roster for the 2017-18 season.