For the last three seasons, defenseman Joey Verkerke has been a mainstay on the back end for the NAHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. In the ’98 blue liner’s final year of junior eligibility, Verkerke has made the decision to trade in his blue jersey for a purple one, as he’s committed to Amherst College for the fall of 2019.
“I place a high value on academics as well as hockey, and Amherst is one of the top schools in the country when looking at both of those things,” said Verkerke. The coaching staff at Amherst has been welcoming from day one, and the campus was an excellent fit for me when I went on my visit. I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to continue my athletic and academic careers at Amherst. It’s an honor to be able to continue the tradition of such a storied program.”
The Amherst Mammoths are an NCAA-Division III hockey team that plays in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference). The team most recently completed a campaign that saw them win 15 games and make it all the way to the championship game against Trinity.
In Verkerke’s time with the Knights, the Plymouth, MI native has compiled more games played than any other defenseman in the program’s history. In a win over the Northeast Generals Sunday afternoon, Verkerke skated in his 130th regular season game for the grey and blue.
“Joey has been a top four defenseman for the Knights since he arrived,” said Knights Head Coach and General Manager, Tom Kowal. “We are very proud Joey has chosen Amherst College to continue his hockey career and get a great education. Joey has dedicated himself and worked extremely hard to get to the level he is playing at, as he is the type of player that is the hardest worker in the locker room on and off the ice.”
In last season’s playoff run, Verkerke helped the Knights with five assists on their way to becoming East Division Champions and making an appearance at the Robertson Cup. Joey arrived at Revolution Ice Centre in 2016 and credits the entire hockey operations staff for helping him reach this new plateau.
“I’m very grateful to Coach Kowal, Coach Whiteside, Coach Fusco, and Athletic Trainer Paul Celona for bringing me into this organization 3 years ago and helping me develop as a player ever since. It’s been an honor to play alongside so many great players that have come through the Knights organization. They have taught me many lessons over the past few years not only as a player, but also as a person.”
With 12 games left in the Knights regular season, the defenseman will continue to work hard and do everything he can to help bring the Knights back to the playoffs. Verkerke may be leaving the Knights when the season concludes, but the impression left on the coaching staff led by Tom Kowal will remain.
“I have really enjoyed the opportunity to coach and develop Joey the last several years. We wish him the best of luck in his future at Amherst College.”