Tag Archives: NAPHL

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!

Knights Trade for Tendered Defenseman, Jordan Strand

Shortly after their 2017-18 season came to a close, the Knights made a trade for 2018-19, acquiring tendered defenseman Jordan Strand in a trade with the Chippewa Steel (formerly the Coulee Region Chill).

The 19-year old spent most of 2017-18 as a key presence for a Sioux Falls JR. Stampede U18 team that went to the NAPHL’s playoffs this past February. After a regular season that saw him record a goal and eight assists in 15 games, Strand produced at a point-per-game rate on the biggest stage, scoring two goals and four points in four playoff games. Offense however, is his not his primary focus.

“I’m more towards a two-way defenseman, he said. “I take care of the d-zone first. That’s my main goal; to shut down the other team’s top line and then chip in on the offense too. I go into every game with the mentality that I really, really enjoy playing the good teams and shutting down their top players. Coming from Minnesota high school hockey, we had a bunch of top-notch players and that was my favorite thing. Going against these guys that get drafted in the NHL or are going division one, and I go against those guys and shut them down. When I’m on the ice, I just want to make sure those top guys don’t get points. For the offensive side, I guess I go into every game hoping to get a point or at least help my buddy or my line mate get a point, but I like to be a shutdown d, that’s my main thing.”

“Jordan is a steady shutdown defenseman that has the ability to log big minutes on the back-end,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “We are excited to add Jordan to the right side of our defensive core.”

Strand has already had a taste of NAHL hockey, after playing a pair of games with the Minot Minotauros in 2017-18.

“Last year I was kind of going in blind,” he said. “I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. From my high school, I’m one of the first players to go on to play junior in quite some time. Now I know what I’m getting into. Playing in Sioux Falls this past year has gotten me way more prepared to go into it. Seeing the NAHL practices with Minot, playing in games, you realize how fast it is. That’s prepared me for this offseason training and going into next season.”

So what does the Cottage Grove, Minnesota native know about a junior hockey team from Pennsylvania? The Knights most recent trip to the State of Hockey grabbed his attention.

“I heard a little bit,” he said of the Knights. “The teams that made it to the Robertson Cup final four, I was looking up. Being with Minot, I knew about Wilkes-Barre. I knew that they were a good team, a talented team. I didn’t know about the coaching staff, or where they were located, before I was traded, but I knew they were good.”

“Nowadays you can’t have enough skill on the blue-line,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We wanted to add a player with Jordan’s ability to play good defense in his own zone, while also having the ability to transition into a playmaker up the ice. Bringing him into the fold helps not only our defensive depth, but continues to add versatility to our team as a whole. It was an easy trade to make.”

In trading for Strand, the Knights believe the benefits extend beyond just the ice. A former captain for Park High School, Strand leads by example.

“I’m not really a big talker, I like to show it on the ice,” he said. “That’s my big thing, my work ethic. I like to go in and try to motivate guys on my team to work harder because of my work ethic. I do less talking and more working. Some guys are good at the talking part, but I’m more of the work-hard, guys notice it, and then they work hard as well.”

With the opportunity to secure a place on an NAHL roster, Strand is motivated to achieve not only his personal ambitions, but to help continue the Knights ascent, heading into their fourth season in the NAHL.

“Team goals-obviously you want to go to the Robertson Cup and win the Robertson Cup. That’s my big thing, I love winning. Coming from a team this past year that made it to nationals for U18 and made it a good, successful year. I really loved it. I want more, so I’m hoping to win that Robertson Cup. Personally, I want to start talking to colleges. Get a college offer, and if that doesn’t come this next year, than the year after. I’d also like to get 30 points or so this year, play on the power play, be a good team player. That’s my goal.”

The Knights will get their first chance to see Strand at their rink, when the organization holds their main camp on July 20th at the Revolution Ice Centre. Strand will have the opportunity to make a team that shares his aspirations of winning a Robertson Cup.

“I’m just really looking forward to it,” said Strand. “I’ve heard really good things about the coaching staff, really good things about Wilkes-Barre. I’m really excited to get out there and get going.”

Brett Postula Signs Tender with Knights

Brett Postula, an 18-year old forward from Michigan, has agreed to a tender with the Knights for 2018-19. The ‘99 has spent the last several seasons with Meijer Hockey, a youth hockey organization that is lauded for producing junior hockey players, including another Knights tender Zak Currie and veteran forward Tyrone Bronte.

”No I haven’t had the chance to speak with Tyrone yet-he’s been pretty busy,” said a laughing Postula, during the Knights Robertson Cup Semifinals. “He was a great player here though and was a great teammate when he was here. Meijer is a great organization. Coach Sherry is a wonderful coach and it’s truly a wonderful place to play.”

This past season, Postula wracked up 23 goals and 20 assists playing AAA and Midget hockey for Meijer.

“I’m a go-hard type of guy,” said the 6-0, 170-pound forward. “I can go win battles on the walls and in the corners. I’m aggressive in front of the net and I can score.”

”Brett is a talented player who can fill a lot of roles throughout a lineup,” said Knights assistant GM Justin Schreiber. “He really came on strong toward the end of his midget season and caught the eyes of our staff.”

Postula was one of many following the action in this past weekend’s Robertson Cup Playoffs. The Knights were among the final four teams left in the playoffs before being eliminated by the eventual champion, the Shreveport Mudbugs. He believes he can be a part of the next step.

”I want to come in, work hard and win a Robertson Cup,” he said plainly.

Postula will get the opportunity when the Knights resume work following the NAHL Draft on June 5th with Main Camp from July 20th-22nd.

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