Tag Archives: USA Hockey

EHL: Knights Drop Game 1 Against Oilers

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

The context of Friday’s match up between the Knights and Oilers saw two teams battling for playoff position as the EHL season winds closer to its finish. Entering play Saturday, the Knights trailed the New York Applecore for fourth in the South Conference while the Oilers had the opportunity to hop the sixth-place Junior Flyer’s after their loss earlier in the day.

The Knights struck first on the evening when Tyler Nielsen found a puck from Rhett Padgett and ripped it past Oilers goalie Olof Djurberg just three minutes into the first.

The Oilers would respond just past the halfway point of the period with numbers even on a 4-on-4. Val Sverdlov kicked off a big performance when he beat Thomas Walker to even the game at one (Zach Withington, Ian Wallgren).

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would counter in the last minute of the period when Cody Rumsey picked up a nifty pass from Tyler Watungwa and flipped it home to give the Knights a 2-1 lead.

The early stages of the second period were dictated by a penalty per side, though neither team could capitalize. Both goalies stopped shorthanded rushes as each penalty-and power play-escaped without allowing a goal.

At 13:53 Sverdlov would even the game once more when his sharp-angle shot navigated its way by Walker off a feed from Ryan Brand. The period wound down with both Walker and Djurberg stoning the opposition and sending the contest to the third with the score gridlocked at two.

In the last stanza, the Oilers finally grabbed their first lead following Peter Capone’s goal at 7:50 (Fabian Zuccarello). The Knights would supply ample pressure in their attempt to tie the game, but Djurberg would prove a wall in net, stopping 15 shots in the third period.

The only glitch in the the Swedish goalie’s performance was disallowed after Bryan Whelan appeared to tie the game not long after Capone’s go-ahead score, only to see it waved off by the officials.

After each team traded an unsuccessful power play in the final 5:35, the Knights pulled Walker for the extra attacker with under a minute to play. Connecticut did well in clogging up neutral ice and in the final seconds, Tyler Lapshanski fired a puck into the open net to seal the 4-2 Oilers win.

The Knights will look to bounce back in a rematch with Connecticut at 12:30 PM EST today. Tune in on hockeytv.com or follow along on twitter @WBSKnightsEHL!

NAHL: Seven Knights Named To Top Prospects Tournament

On Monday afternoon, the NAHL announced the rosters for its annual top prospects tournament. Seven of the Knights players made the cut, tied for the second-highest mark in the league, with NAHL Head Coach Tom Kowal being named as assistant to the East Division’s team. That team will carry four Knights players while the at large  White team will have three.

“Our purpose has always been preparing and helping our players onto the next level of hockey,” said Kowal. “Sending seven guys this year feels good. It says a lot about the hard work and talent each of them brings to the rink every day, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase them to college and professional scouts. At the same time it provides a nice incentive to the rest of our guys who are eligible next year as well.”

Team East Division (Orange Color):
#2, Tom Farrell, Defenseman, 3-13-16, 40 GP:

Farrell is the Knights leading point-scorer along the blue line and has secured his place as a regular starter atop the team’s defensive pairs.

“Tom has walked into this organization and has proved to be every bit the player we hoped he was when he tendered with us last year,” said Kowal. “He brings great energy both on the ice and in our dressing room. His top-level skating makes him a really good puck-mover. He has really helped spark our offense this year while also being a steady player on our end of the ice.”

#11 Curtis Carlson, Forward, 15-13-28, 41 GP:

The Knights captain has been an asset to the team this season, using his rare speed to be a threat in all situations. The ‘97 has been present in all phases, particularly on special teams. Carlson leads the Knights, scoring five goals and four assists between the power play and penalty kill.

“Curtis is a guy who’s been here dating back a few years now, and it’s impressive how he continues to make strides as a player,” said Kowal. “His speed is obvious, but he’s a savvy veteran. His work ethic translates both on and off the ice and is a big reason why he’s developed into one of our best players. He’s our captain because he leads by example. He leaves it all on the ice.”

#12 Mike Morrissey, Forward, 9-11-20, 42 GP:

One of the Knights most tenured players is Bethlehem, PA native, Mike Morrissey. He’ll be heading to his first Top Prospects Tournament after putting together an impressive 42 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year.

“Mike Morrissey is a tone-setter,” said Kowal. “He’s a guy who plays with a lot of grit-he takes the blood and sweat part of playing hockey literally-and when we need a big shift or faceoff win, we’re comfortable calling his number. He’s a really smart center who’s worked his bag off to be one our most versatile players.”

#16 Matt Kidney, Forward, 13-24-37, 42 GP:

After leading the team in scoring last year, Kidney finds himself in a familiar position, tied atop the points list with Knights rookie phenom Jack Olmstead through just over two-thirds of the season. The 2018 tournament marks his second trip as an NAHL top prospect.

“We made Matt Kidney our first-round pick in 2016 because of what he brings with to the ice with his hockey sense,” recalled Kowal. “He’s a guy who gets our offense going. He’s quick, he’s got good hands and a knack to find the puck and create chances. He’s not the biggest guy, but he brings a good compete level to the game.”

Team Selects-White:

#7 Adrian Danchenko, Forward, 9-13-22, 36 GP:

Still one of the younger players on the Knights roster, Adrian Danchenko is one of the Knights more tenured players dating back to his 16U days. The dekes and dangles he’s compiled in his time with the program dot highlight reels, but he brings a well-rounded game to any roster.

“Adrian is a ‘99 who’s still just scratching the surface,” said Kowal. “He’s improved every year we’ve had him. He’s been a constant for us this season. He can grind out tough shifts but also pull off some truly special plays. He’s been a threat no matter who his line mates are or what the in-game situation is.”

#27 Luke Robinson, Defenseman, 0-14-14, 37 GP:

After playing in one game with the Knights last season, Luke Robinson returned full time to establish himself among the Knights talented group of defensemen.

“As a 2000, Luke has shown us a lot,” said Kowal. “He’s a big guy who’s steady for us in our own zone, but he’s done a nice job continuing to develop his offensive game. He’s distributing the puck well and consistently making smart plays. He’s added another reliable member to our blue line.

#28 Justin Engelkes, Forward, 8-8-16, 37 GP:

As a 17-year old, Justin Engelkes has broken into the NAHL with a solid rookie campaign. The forward was the Knights second-round draft pick and has already committed to the Miami University of Ohio.

“Justin has established himself as a two-way player who has the necessary toughness to play in this league and beyond,” said his head coach. “I think he’s come along nicely. He’s got good size and likes to go to work down low and on the boards. He’s a guy that’s tough to move off the puck, and he’s shown us the ability to score as well. He’s got even more to offer and it’s exciting to see him unlock his game.”

From NAHL.com

The number of players each NAHL team is sending to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South and two NAHL Selects teams, will each play in two game games, was based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of February 5, 2018.
One of the things the NAHL does better than any other junior league is seeing their players earn an NCAA opportunity while playing and being showcased in the NAHL.

To date, 153 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2017-18 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event. The event continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as, some potential NHL Draft picks.

2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule (subject to change, all times eastern)

Tuesday, February 27th
1:00pm: Midwest Division vs. NAHL Selects Red
4:00pm: South Division vs. East Division
7:00pm: Central Division vs. NAHL Selects White

Wednesday, February 28th
11:00am: NAHL Selects Red vs. South Division
2:00pm: Central Division vs. Midwest Division
5:00pm: NAHL Selects White vs. East Division

Can’t make the game? Catch your Knights on www.hockeytv.com where each game will be available via live broadcast! Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media-Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey, Twitter: @WBSKnights-for all Knights Top Prospect Tournament Updates!

 

Knights Agree to Tender with ’01 Defenseman Greg Japchen

Greg Japchen became the latest in a line of talented prospects to sign on for the Knights 2018-19 campaign. The 2001-born defenseman agreed to a tender that was finalized today. Already committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA DI-NCHC) Japchen has drawn the attention of the hockey world for his highly-valued skillset.

“I’m a puck-moving defenseman,” said Japchen of his playing style. “I can skate the puck up ice and and I have the speed to make plays.”

“Greg is a highly-skilled defenseman that sees the ice extremely well,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “His stick and mobility make him one of the top 2001 birth year defensemen in the nation. We are very excited to have Greg part of the Knights organization.”

A native of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Japchen has already given the Knights a preview of his high-ceiling. The left-handed defenseman joined the team for a road contest against the Philadelphia Rebels in mid-January. He didn’t disappoint.

“I thought he played well,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “I think he showed us why he’s such a sought-after talent. In a game against one of our better opponents, it was exciting to see that he didn’t look out of place out there.”

“Playing with the Knights, it was easy to see they’re a quick, skilled team,” said Japchen. “They have some really fast forwards up front, and strong goal tending. The Rebels were a fast team too. They skate to the puck hard, they play a good game. Being able to play junior hockey has given me a good idea of the pace of that level. You have to be able to pick your head up and make decisions with the puck quickly. It’s helped me to get faster and improve my overall skillset.”

Japchen will finish 2017-18 with the Philadelphia Junior Flyers 16U program before preparing for next season. Through 31 games, he has recorded three goals and six assists. That does not include his game with the Knights, as well as one game in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers. The 16-year old is confident he’ll be ready for whatever opportunity comes his way.

“Over the summer I plan on getting bigger, stronger, and faster,” said the 5-11, 175 lbs defenseman. “I want to focus on skill and stick-handling-things of that nature as I work to improve my game.”

The Knights are excited to welcome Greg to the organization and look forward to following his hockey career!

Knights Defenseman Anthony Firriolo Commits to Army

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

Knights defenseman Anthony Firriolo has committed to the United States Military Academy West Point to play division one hockey starting in the 2019-20 season. The ’98 defenseman has chosen not only to play for a great hockey program but also to serve his country in the army.

“Just the brotherhood, the chance to serve my country,” said Firriolo of his interest in Army. “They came to me recently and I had the opportunity to visit the campus. It really felt like a perfect fit for me.”

The United States Military Academy has been a member of NCAA Division I hockey since the program’s beginning in 1903. For the past 15 years the Black Knights have competed in the Atlantic conference with former Brown University alum Brian Riley serving as head coach for the previous 14 seasons. Alumni of the Black Knights program include former NHL forward and Stanley Cup Champion Dan Hinote.

“Anthony is headed to a program that fits his personality and who he is,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “It tells you about his character. He’s a talented player, but a better person who not only wants to play hockey and work hard to earn an education, but wants to serve his country in doing so. We’re very proud of him.”

After being acquired in a trade with the Amarillo Bulls early in the season, Firriolo has settled in nicely as a potent offensive player on the Knights talented blue line. Through 22 games with the Knights and 11 with the Bulls, Firriolo leads all Knights defensemen in assists with 13 and has logged valuable time on the team’s power play, serving as one of its primary quarterbacks. Six of his 13 helpers have come while on the man-advantage.

“I feel I bring offense to a team’s defense,” said Firriolo of his playing style. “I bring some skill to the back end, I like to move pucks up the ice and create opportunities to score. I think I’ll fit at West Point because I like to challenge myself. I like to work hard and have a never-give-up attitude, and out on the ice I’m constantly looking to make myself and my teammates better.”

Through it all, the defenseman has kept an appreciation for playing in the NAHL and his team’s competition.

“The compete level, especially in our division, is special,” he said. “Every night is like a playoff game. You have to bring your a-game because it can go either way against the first-place team or last-place team. Everybody’s highly skilled.”

Firriolo has enjoyed his time playing as a Knight thus far, and credits all those who’ve been alongside him on the journey.

“The coaching staff here has been unreal,” he said. “They took me in after I arrived, a little after the beginning of the season. This group of teammates I think is the closest group I’ve ever been a part of. They way this place operates is perfect for me.”

With his commitment to the Black Knights, Firriolo becomes the seventh Knights NAHL veteran to commit to a division one school over the past year, the third to a team in the Atlantic Hockey.

“He’s a player we’ve had a need for this year,” said Kowal. “Him being an offensive-minded defenseman is an important piece to have on any hockey team, the way the game is being played now. He’s filled that role nicely for us. At the end of the day, we’re thrilled with what he’s brought to our program. I really look forward to rooting him on as he advances forward in his hockey career.”

“I want to thank Coach Tom and Coach Whiteside for all they’ve done for me,” said Firriolo. “I also want to thank all my previous coaches, my teammates, and my family for supporting me all the way.”

The Knights organization congratulates Anthony for his commitment and thanks him for his contributions to the program’s success!

JP Natishan Commits to King’s College

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

Knights EHL forward JP Naitshan has announced his commitment to King’s College of the NCAA’s DIII UCHC conference. As a ’97 birth year, he will suit up for the Monarchs next season as King’s continues to grow its new hockey program.  For Natishan, the acclimation period should be a short one.

“I felt like I was at home,” said Natishan of his experience visiting the King’s campus. “I’m from this area. The campus is beautiful. I know what they’re about as a school and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

The Wyoming, Pennsylvania native is a long-tenured veteran of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights program, dating back to his youth hockey days. His familiarity and impressive resume made him a more than logical choice for the Knights when the team was building a roster for their return to the EHL this year.

“JP is the hardest worker out there,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “He’s a leader who sets the tone for our guys on the ice, in workouts, and in the locker room. He’ll run through a wall for you.”

Natishan will join the Kings Monarchs in their second year playing NCAA division three hockey. The team has played hard even through the growing pains of their inaugural season, a fact that has not escaped their newest recruit.

“I’ve seen Kings play this year, they’re a great group of guys,” Natishan said. “They’re a really hard-working team. I think I fit that. I work hard, I like to play penalty kill, I block a lot of shots. I know I can bring that to their line up.”

Through 33 games, Natishan has three goals and three assists for the Knights in 2017-18 and his presence in his own zone, killing penalties, and matching up with the opposition’s skill lines has been invaluable.

“I lose count of how many shots JP gets down in front of each game,” said Fusco. “He’s a player we turn to in big moments. He grinds out every shift. He’s a guy you love to have on your roster.”

“JP has been a Knight for a long time,” added Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “He’s been here longer than I have, but I’ve seen him in games, in practice, off the ice. It’s great to see his tremendous effort pay off with him going to play college hockey. We’ll  be rooting for him every step of the way.”

With just a few months remaining in his Knights career, Natishan looks back favorably on his time within the organization.

“It’s tough, but I’d have to say my favorite memory was winning an AYHL U16 championship,” he said of his 2012-13 season. “That was pretty special. I want to thank all my family, friends, teammates, my current and former coaches, and Coach Mallaro at Kings for helping me through this process.”

The Knights are proud of JP’s accomplishments and are excited for him as he moves forward in his college career. The organization will be rooting for him each step of the way!

 

 

RECAP: Knights Kick Off Second Half With Convincing Win

Fresh off Christmas and holiday festivities, the Knights returned to home ice on Friday to take on the Kenai River Brown Bears. The first of four meetings between the pair kicked off quickly in favor of the home team.

Just 3:37 into play, Matt Kidney notched his 10th goal of the season when he fired a Jack Olmstead rebound past Brown Bears starting goalie Artur Pavliukov. Paul Cimilluca picked up a secondary assist for his third helper of the season.

The Knights kept their foot on the gas pedal largely dictating play through the opening 20 minutes. The back check limited quality chances on starting goaltender David Tomeo, while the forecheck spent ample time in the attacking end.

Curtis Carlson capped off the strong period when off a faceoff win, the Knights captain fed a pass to Matt Kidney waiting in the middle of the slot. Kidney flipped his second goal of the night past Pavliukov to send the Knights to the first intermission with a multi-goal lead.

Three minutes into the second, during a stretch of 4-on-4 play, Gabe Temple followed Carlson’s example, immediately flipping a face off win to Justin Engelkes in the slot. Engelkes hammered a one-timer to the twine for his seventh goal of the season and a 3-0 Knights lead.

Tomeo and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense weathered the Brown Bears push-back in the second half of the period before the Knights drew a penalty at 15:52. 16 seconds into the team’s third power play of the evening, Reed Robinson fired a puck home to build a 4-0 lead. Adrian Danchenko and Blake Kryska registered the assists.

The final frame of regulation kicked off with the Knights on the penalty kill. The Brown Bears, owners of one of the NAHL’s most potent power plays, capitalized on their third turn on the man advantage, when Gil Garcia ripped a shot from the slot by Tomeo for Kenai River’s first goal (Sacha Guillemain, Cameron McDonald).

The goal swung momentum to the Brown Bears forecheck, as they drew three more penalties in the first five minutes of the third. The Knights penalty kill and Tomeo combined to erase the remainder of the penalties taken, but Kenai River continued to force Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to chase in their own zone.

At 6:59, Gabriel Wahl fed former Knight Markuss Komuls whose rebound found Connor Fedorek pinching down from the blue line. Fedorek picked the puck up in the slot and weaved it around Tomeo to narrow the deficit to two.

Determined to squash the comeback effort, the Knights offense found a renewed rhythm and resumed their offensive on Artur Pavliukov’s crease. The Lithuanian netminder stood tall in a gritty effort that even saw him briefly leave the ice after sustaining a minor injury in the second.

Despite Pavliukov’s best efforts, including 42 total saves and one robbery of Jack Olmstead, Curtis Carlson put the game to bed at 13:56. Set up by Lincoln Hatten and Luke Robinson, Carlson fired a puck from the right circle through traffic and Pavliukov to put the Knights ahead by three.

Despite multiple penalties being assessed to both sides through the final five minutes of play, the 5-2 score held through the final horn. With the win, the Knights improve to 19-7-3, placing them just one point behind the Philadelphia Rebels for first place in the East Division. They’ll have the opportunity to regain the top spot in round two of Knights-Brown Bears today at 2:30 pm. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com, with live updates being posted to Knights Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

KNIGHTS ALUMNI: SPRONG RECALLED TO PITTSBURGH

Former Knights forward and current Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong was recalled to the NHL from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins roster today. Sprong played for the Knights Bantam Major team in the 2011-12 season, helping them to a national championship title. Through 29 games in the AHL this season, the 2015 NHL second-round pick has scored 18 goals and 10 assists. The Knights are happy for Daniel and wish him the best of luck in Pittsburgh!

 

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!

Knights Alumni Khristian Acosta and Paul DeNaples Sign Letters of Intent

Congrats to Knights alumni Khristian Acosta and Paul DeNaples on signing their letters of intent today. Starting next season, Acosta will play for UMass Hockey while DeNaples will skate for Penn State Men’s Hockey.

Tyrone Bronte Commits to Bemidji State University

On Monday evening Knights forward Tyrone Bronte announced his decision to commit to Bemidji State University, an NCAA division one hockey program out of the WCHA conference. Bronte, a ’99 forward, has been a key part of the Knights success this season tallying five goals and seven assists in 13 games.

“We’re very proud that Tyrone had made his commitment to play for Bemidji State,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He has worked very hard to turn into a gifted forward with and without the puck and maximizes his talent with his effort on and off the ice. He’s a smart and skilled player who consistently elevates the play of his teammates. Our numbers and our record this year are a lot better with him than without him.”

In the 13 games that Bronte has played for the Knights, the team is 11-1-1. They’re 1-2-2 without him.

“Tyrone’s heading to a good program with a history of winning hockey. He’s going to help continue that trend. Bemidji is getting a good one.”

The Bemidji State Beavers are coming off a season in which they won the MacNaughton Cup, awarded to the team that finishes with the best record in the WCHA conference at the end of the regular season.  The program has made several long runs in the NCAA tournament since jumping up to Division I level in the 1999-2000 season. Notable program alumni include current Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read along with former NHL players like Calgary Flames standout and US Olympian Joel Otto, forward Andrew Murray,  and defenseman Gary Sargent.

“Bemidji’s hockey program is exquisite,” said Bronte of his future home. “They have really great facilities. Their rink is gorgeous, the locker room is as well. From the beginning, their coaching staff was up front and honest with me about their interest. They made it a point that they really wanted me. They came to me after only the first few games to let me know. Their interest in me sparked my interest in them.”

A native of Australia, Bronte has transitioned well since coming to the US. His play at the midget and junior level has consistently turned heads, enough to earn him the right to play at the highest level of college hockey.

“It’s a dream for me. I came to America to play division one hockey,” he said. “My goal is to one day play in the NHL. Playing DI is a step in that direction. It helps me and helps my family.”

As for the rest of the current season, Bronte is focused on continuing the Knights recent success and continuing to develop his own game.

“Right now we’re doing well. We’re playing well as a team and as individuals. My motto has always been to put the team first, because I believe that team success brings about individual success.”

Through all his success, Bronte hasn’t lost sight of those who’ve helped him along his way.

“I’d like to thank my parents and my brother for their support through this,” he said. “I’d like to thank God for granting me my talents and blessing me on this journey.”

Knights Sign Jeffrey Bertrand to NAHL Tender Agreement

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights are happy to announce they’ve signed forward Jeffrey Bertrand to a tender agreement. Bertrand, a 2001 birth year from Anchorage, Alaska already owns an impressive hockey resume.

“I’m a skilled, power forward,” said the 6-2, 170 16-year old. “I like to play a very intense style of hockey: fast and aggressive. I like skating down deep, putting pucks on net, and setting up my teammates.”

After standing out for the Alaska Oilers U15 AAA Midget program in 2016-17 (10-19-29 in 32 GP), Bertrand landed a roster spot with USA Hockey’s U17 team for their Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic this past August. Jeffrey was a key part of a gold-medal finish for the U.S. in the tournament.

“To play for team USA, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I was proud to play for my country. They took really good care of us. We had a good group. It was a different experience playing in the Czech Republic. The game’s played a little bit differently there. They have different street signs and handshakes, but it was really special.“

Bertrand continues to play for the Alaska Oilers in 2017-18 at the U16 level of their organization, but he’ll have his chance to preview junior hockey.

“We’re happy to have Jeffrey as a tender for our NAHL program,” said head coach Tom Kowal. “Keep an eye on the roster, as he’ll have an opportunity to be an affiliate player for us later on this season. We’re excited to see what he brings to the NAHL level.”

The role of affiliate player will allow Bertrand the opportunity to play in a select number of games for the Knights in their 2017-18 NAHL campaign.

“I’m just excited,” he said on his feelings following his tender. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Knights. I’m pumped to play for them and I’m looking forward to playing junior hockey.”

Having scouted and evaluated the forward personally, Knights Assistant GM Justin Schreiber is fully aware of the potential Bertrand brings to the table.

“Jeff is one of those rare players that can take over a game with his high-end skill and physicality,” said Schreiber. “He’s consistently one of the hardest workers on the ice, a guy you hate to play against. He is an exciting addition to our organization.”