Tag Archives: NCAA Division I Hockey

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!

Reed Robinson Commits to Niagara University

On Thursday, Knights forward Reed Robinson confirmed his commitment to Niagara University. Robinson, a ’98 from Rockwall, Texas, has been a member of the Knights organization since 2015.

“Reed Robinson is one of our most veteran players,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “This is his third season playing in our organization. He’s a guy who’s improved every year and is proof of where hard work can take you.”

Robinson is currently second on the Knights in scoring, with 10 goals and 14 assists in 25 games played in 2017-18. That total is ninth-highest in the North American Hockey League through the first three months of play.

“Reed’s one of our most talented players, and one of our biggest threats on the ice,” said Kowal. “Whether it’s 5-on-5, 3-on-3, overtime, power play, or penalty kill, we’re confident in putting him on the ice. He’s one of our leaders in points this season, but more importantly he’s one of our leaders in the locker room. He sets the tone and has really been a mentor to our younger players in helping them make the transition to junior hockey.”

“I’ve spent the last two years focused on my fitness,” said Robinson. “I think that’s really helped me to become a point-per-game player and I think it’s allowed me to help others on my team. Playing in the NAHL, it’s a high level of play, and the competition is hard to beat. It’s matured me.”

It was Robinson’s continued success at that level that brought him the attention of the Niagara University Purple Eagles, who play in the Atlantic Hockey Conference at the NCAA’s division one level. The program has a new staff this season, one that has guided the Purple Eagles to a quick start in 2017-18.

“The coaching staff was really what stood out to me,” said Robinson of his future home. “They’ve got the program going in the right direction, and I’m confident that I can play a role there. It’s in a small town-everybody knows everybody and I like that. Niagara Falls is right there and it’s right next to the Canadian border. It’s a really beautiful place.”

Robinson will spend the rest of his current season working to continue to improve his game as well as helping the Knights in their efforts in accomplishing their highest goal.

“We’re tied for first right now, we want make a run,” he said. “I want keep scoring and performing well but our ultimate goal is to win the Robertson Cup. I’m going to do whatever I can to help us get there.”

“At the end of the day, Reed is a great addition for the Niagara Purple Eagles and for division one hockey,” said Kowal. “He’s earned it and we’re thrilled he’s being rewarded for it.”

On behalf of the entire organization, the Knights would like to congratulate Reed on his commitment to Niagara University, and thank him for his continued efforts both on and off the ice to advancing the team’s success!