Tag Archives: WBS Knights

Knights Alumni Natishan, McGrath Recognized for Humboldt Aid and DeFriest Aid

Photo: Times Leader

Last week, Knights  alumni JP Natishan and Chris McGrath were recognized for their efforts to assist the victims and families of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

The pair have been selling custom-designed t-shirts that show support for the Broncos with a “Humboldt Broncos Strong” slogan, with all proceeds being donated to the Broncos players as well as their families. Together the duo raised $1500.

“As a junior hockey player, and all the time I’ve spent on the bus with my brothers, I couldn’t imagine something like that happening,” said Natishan. “I just want to help them out any way that I could.”

“It was just such a terrible thing to happen,” said McGrath. “As a hockey player you spend so much time on the bus with your team and a lot of bonding goes on there as well so to see something like that happen just really hit home. It affected not just the hockey community, but the whole world. I felt like everyone else I think; I just wanted to help. JP and I ended up putting together the shirts and the hoodies as our way of chipping in. It didn’t matter if we only sold 1 item or 1,000 we just wanted try and do whatever we could and it ended up doing well.”

Natishan completed his junior career last spring playing for the Knights EHL team. He and McGrath are long-time friends who skated a number of seasons together for the Knights youth program. Both are heading to play NCAA DIII college hockey this fall with Natishan lacing up the skates for Kings College and McGrath joining nearby Wilkes University.

“JP is truly a selfless guy who puts others first,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “He’s the type of guy every coach wants on their team and in their locker room. Getting to know him and watch him succeed on and off the ice as a player and a leader has been a really rewarding part of my time as a coach.”

The pair will not rest on what they’ve accomplished thus far. Bobby DeFriest, a 19-year old hockey player who is both a former teammate and mutual friend to both McGrath and Natishan, was recently diagnosed with an extremely rare form of brain cancer.  DeFriest’s family is seeking  to raise money to cover medical costs via gofundme. Those interested can donate at:

https://www.gofundme.com/DeFriestStrong

For their part, Natishan and McGrath have created another shirt for sale online with the slogan “Glory Lasts Forever,” on the front and the hashtag “DeFriest Strong” to match the family’s motto on the back. The shirt can be purchased at:

https://defrieststrong.itemorder.com/sale

ALL proceeds from the sale of each shirt will be donated to Bobby DeFriest and his family. If money cannot be offered, the pair has asked for those practicing to offer their prayers in support of the DeFriest family in their time of need.

“JP Natishan and Chris McGrath are both great examples of the traits we look for when we go out and recruit new players into our organization,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “Hockey’s a sport, but it’s also a family. Chris and JP are guys that truly care about all members of that family. We are incredibly proud of them, and are happy that they were a part of our program.”

Natishan visiting DeFriest

Knights to Face US National Team Development Program in Blaine Showcase

In September, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will make their annual trip the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota to compete in the NAHL’s annual Blaine Showcase. This year comes with a unique and exciting opponent. The Knights will be playing the US National Team Development Program’s 17-team in an exhibition on Saturday, September 22nd at 7:00 PM CDT | 8:00 PM EDT.

The USNTDP is made up of the most elite junior hockey players in the Untied States. The program competes both at home as well as international tournaments every year. Among the scores of their impressive alumni are Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Cam Fowler, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Brady and Matthew Tkachuk. Jack Hughes was the 17-team’s captain a year ago before jumping to the 18-team last season. He is an early favorite to be selected at the top of the 2019 NHL Draft.

“To have the opportunity to represent the NAHL in a game against the US National Development Program is an honor,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “It’s as strong of a measuring stick as any team could ask for. We feel that by having our team compete against some of the best under 17 players in the world, we give them an opportunity to showcase their skills against elite talent. We’re very excited for the challenge.”

Prior to their showdown with the USNTDP, the Knights will play the Topeka Pilots on Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT | 2:00 pm EDT and the Brookings Blizzard on Thursday the 20th at 1:30 pm CDT | 2:30 EDT. They will not play Friday in lieu of their game against the 17-team Saturday.

The Knights will attempt build on last year’s Showcase winning percentage after they finished 3-1. The team is just over a month and a half away from the start of the he regular season.

For the full Blaine Showcase schedule, click here

For all Knights news and happenings, follow @WBSKnights on Instagram and Twitter, Like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Hockey on Facebook, and visit www.wbsknights.com!

NAHL Sets New College Commitment Record

For the fifth straight season, the North American Hockey League has broken its own commitment record, sending 312 players and counting to college over the past year. 16 past, present, and future Knights are among those committed to college to play hockey and receive an education:

Jeff Bertrand Penn State (Big 10, D1) *
Tyrone Bronte Bemidji State University (WCHA, D1)
Curtis Carlson Nichols College (CCC, D3)
Paul Cimilluca Wilkes University (UCHC, D3)
Justin Engelkes Miami University (NCHC, D1) *
Thomas Farrell Army (Atlantic Hockey, D1)
Anthony Firriolo Army (Atlantic Hockey, D1)
Mike Gelatt Skidmore (ECAC East, D3)
Greg Japchen University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC, D1) *
Matt Kidney Salve Regina (CCC, D3)
Paul Maust Mercyhurst College (Atlantic Hockey, D1) #
Mike Morrissey Colby College (NESCAC, D3)
Jack Olmstead University of Michigan (Big 10, D1)
Reed Robinson Niagara University (Atlantic Hockey, D1)
Christian Stoever Merrimack College (Hockey East, D1)
Gabe Temple Michigan Tech University (WCHA, D1) *
* 2019-20 ## Alumni

Click here for the full story

Commitment Record-2018

 

David Pfoestl Commits to Anna Maria College

One of the most-tenured Knights defensemen has earned a place in the college hockey ranks, as David Pfoestl has announced his intent to join Anna Maria College this fall. The AMCats hockey program is entering its first season at the NCAA Division III level and will compete as an independent in 2018-19.
“I chose Anna Maria College because I felt that it was the right place to continue my academic career, and also to play hockey at the college level,” said Pfoestl. “I visited the campus and felt comfortable and welcomed right away. When I first moved to the United States from Italy to play hockey it has always been my goal to go to college to pursue my academic and athletic career. Attending Anna Maria College this fall is a dream becoming true for me and I could not be more excited to start this new chapter in my life.”
Pfoestl joined the Knights at the youth level after moving from Italy in 2015-16.  While growing into his 6-5 frame, the left-handed defender made an impact early both on the stat sheet and with physical style of play. He notched three goals and 17 helpers in his rookie season, split between the U16 and U18 level.
“I would describe myself as a hard-working defensive defenseman who likes to play a fair but physical type of game and use my big body as much as possible to create time for myself and my teammates to make plays. I never give up on or of the ice and always empty the tank whenever I step on the ice for games and practices.”

After 131 games with the Knights, Pfoestl has gotten to know much of the organization’s coaching staff. Josh Fusco has been his head coach for the past two years, and has had a front row seat for Pfoestl’s junior career.

“I’m very happy for David and his decision,” said Fusco. “Any time a kid leaves to go play NCAA hockey it’s a great feeling of accomplishment all across the board. Having David the past two years and seeing his tremendous improvement with several parts of his game has been a great sight to see. This decision is a great reward for all the hard work that he has been putting in.”
Pfoestl laced up the skates for Fusco’s NA3AHL team in 2016-17, producing at over a point-per game pace with 11 tallies and 26 assists in 36 games on the way to a league championship appearance. In the EHL this past season, the Italian added two more goals and five assists in 40 games played. Beyond the walls of the Revolution Ice Centre, Pfoestl also represented Italy in the World Junior Classic 18j D1B tournament twice, playing in ten games between 15-16 and 16-17.
“Playing in the EHL this past season under coach Fusco not only helped me to develop into a better hockey player, but also into a better person off the ice,” said Pfoestl. “The level of play in the EHL was very high and definitely prepared me to make the next step to play college hockey.”
Pfoestl leaves Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a strong legacy. Over the past two seasons, Pfoestl ranks second among the Knights tier-III defenders in both games played (76) and points (43). It’s a time he holds in high regard.
“Being part of the Knights family over the last 3 years was an honor and a lifetime experience for me,” he said. “While wearing the Knights jersey I made a ton of great experiences and made bonds  that will last a lifetime. The Knights took great care of me when I first moved to the United States from Italy at the age of 15, and always made me feel welcomed throughout my three years in the organization. I would like to thank my family, coaches, teammates, and everyone else who supported me throughout these years. Especially my family who made a lot of sacrifices for me and also Coach Fusco for believing in my potential and developing me into the player and person I am now.”
The Knights join coach Fusco in their appreciation for David’s contributions to his teams’ success. They wish him all the best in his pursuit of furthering his education and his hockey career!

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 Gets the Call from Niagara

Knights veteran Reed Robinson is heading off to school. The ’98 forward will lace up the skates for the Niagara Purple Eagles after the university offered him a spot for the 2018-19 season.

“They called me the other day, I was actually at work,” said Robinson. “I picked it up at work just because it’s the coaches so I always answer. Coach Lammers called me and told me he’s coming down to Dallas this Friday for the NHL Draft. He asked me about getting breakfast on Friday, and that he had a bigger question for me and asked if I wanted to come in this year and of course I said yes. It was a really exciting combo.”

A native or Rockwall, Texas, Robinson has been a cornerstone for the Knights in Pennsylvania since he came aboard in 2015 at the 18U level. After affiliating with the NAHL team that season, Robinson went on to score 36 goals and 42 assists through his NAHL career. He ends his Knights career tied for third in points in the team’s NAHL history.

“Reed Robinson is a great example of what we look for in our organization and our league,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He came in a couple years ago from the youth level, and continually proved to us that he was capable of taking on bigger roles and bigger minutes. He took advantage of the opportunities he was given each season, and developed into one of our best players and one of the leaders in our locker room.”

“I think the speed of the game at the NAHL level, really made me a faster player,” said Robinson. “It made me make decisions a lot quicker. I think as far as the whole mental side of the game, I’ve learned a lot. It kinda teaches you how to be a college athlete with the time you have to put in and the time management for the work you have to do. I think it really prepared me.”

Robinson heads to a Niagara program that plays in the competitive Atlantic Hockey Conference at the NCAA Division I level. He’s eager to get started.

“I’m just excited to play at the next level,” he said. “I think playing at that level brings your game to that level. I think I’m only going to improve as a hockey player there, so I think that’s a big part of it. Obviously playing in those college hockey rinks won’t be too bad either. That’ll be a lot of fun.”

After playing a program record 138 games in a Knights NAHL sweater, Robinson has too many fond memories to single out just one favorite, but he’ll never forget the people who were apart of his junior hockey journey.

“Certainly the Robby Cup has to be my top moment,” he said. “It was a great experience to go out there-the boys really enjoyed it. I think I’m just going miss my teammates the most I think. I just made so memories, I can’t really pick one. All the guys in Wilkes-Barre were great-it was a good group we had. That’s what I’m going to miss the most. I have to thank the Knights for everything they’ve done. I think everyone helped me to get to college and the Knights organization was a big part of that.”

“I consider Reed as one of those original guys for our program at this level,” said Kowal. “He’ll always be remembered as a big part of what got us started in the NAHL. Those guys hold a special place with me and with our team. I thank him for all the work he’s put in, all the goals he’s helped us achieve, and just for being a quality member of our program. I’m excited for him as he starts his Div. 1 career, and I know he’s going to do well at Niagara. I wish him nothing but the best of luck.”

From ownership on through every member of the organization, the Knights thank Reed for his contributions and will be eagerly rooting him on as embarks on his college career and beyond!

Matt Kidney Commits to Salve Regina

When the Knights took Matt Kidney in the first round of the 2016 NAHL Entry draft they knew they were getting an important piece for their future. This week, Kidney committed to Salve Regina University, a member of the NCAA division III Coastal Commonwealth Conference. The Seahawks are coming off a banner year that included a DIII National Championship appearance.

“I think what sold me was Coach Klann,” said Kidney of Salve Regina’s  now second-year head coach. “I’ve heard a lot of good things through the people I talk to and in his first year with Salve, he took them to a national championship. Going to college, a big thing for me is winning and getting a good education, and I think Salve has both of those things.”

Zech Klann was named DIII coach of the year by USCHO.com, guiding the Seahawks to their fourth-consecutive winning season in his first at the helm. In 2017-18, Salva won the CCC regular season title before making a stellar postseason run that came up just short of its ultimate goal. In the past four seasons, Salve Regina is 65-35-10, with two trips to national tournament.

For his part in recording impressive numbers, Kidney led the Knights in scoring in his rookie season, notching 20 goals and 46 points in 48 total games. He followed that up in 2017-18 with 22-31-53 in 67 games played. A two-time NAHL Top Prospects participant,  Kidney saved some of his best hockey for the 2018 Robertson Cup push, where he recorded three goals and three assists in 10 games. All totaled, the right-handed forward leaves Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as its all-time leading NAHL scorer with 42 goals and 99 points in 115 games.

“We drafted Matt Kidney understanding that we were getting a really skilled player,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We had just come off our first season, looking to build a team that would compete for a Robertson Cup. Matt stepped in early and hit the ground running. He was a tone-setter for us. When he was rolling, we were playing some of our best hockey. He was a huge piece in our playoff run this past season, and I think that really showed what kind of player he’s capable of being.”

Kidney’s choice to attend Salve Regina came from advice.

“I talked to Danny Eruzione a lot recently,” Kidney said of his friend, a former New Jersey Titans forward. “He just kept saying ‘Dude you have to come, you have to come.’ I know he’s a good guy and he’d be straight up with me and he told me ‘This is the place to be.'”

With over 100 games played in the League of Opportunity, Kidney credits the NAHL for preparing him for the physical challenges college hockey is known for.

“From hearing a lot of opinions about DIII, it’s a lot of bigger, older guys,” he said. “My first year in the NAHL, it was a lot of bigger guys and that kind of prepared me and help me play a more physical game. I think this year it’s really helped me a lot with the speed. I think it increased my speed-I know I got faster this year. I think going to school next year is going to be really good.”

After enjoying a deep postseason run in his final year of junior hockey, Kidney wants to help put the Seahawks over the top, following their double-overtime loss in the 2017-18 National Championship.

“I think I come there to win each and every day,” he said. “I feel like I proved that in this year’s playoffs. Our playoff run was spectacular and wasn’t really expected by most and not a lot of people saw it coming. I think I come with a winning attitude and a lot of hard work.”

The Knights run to the Final Four of the Robertson Cup will forever stick with Kindey as one of his all-time favorite memories with the organization.

“It had to be,” he said. “Your last year you go out to Minnesota, play in front of 200 scouts and play against some of the best players in the league. There’s nothing better than that.”

In parting with the Knights, Kidney was sure to thank those who helped him along the way.

“I gotta give thanks to my coaches, Tom Kowal and Andrew Whiteside and the Knights organization for giving me this opportunity,” said Kidney. “Craig Doremus too. I’ve known him a long time, and he’s always looked out for me over the years, and always was honest with me. And of course my family. I think my family played a big role in keeping me honest and supporting me.”

“Matt will always be thought of as a player that helped move our organization in the direction we want it to go,” said Kowal. “In our team’s NAHL history, he holds a lot of our records. He’s earned that with his talent and effort. I thank him for all he’s contributed and wish him the best moving forward in hockey and life.”

The Knights echo coach Kowal’s thoughts and join him in wishing Matt nothing but the best as he moves on to college and beyond!