Jake Fuss has been made a permanent member of the Knights NAHL roster this week, as the team prepares for its Alaska road trip. Fuss, the former captain of the Knights EHL team, is fresh off scoring his 100th goal with the Knights organization this past weekend.
“It’s a testament to Jake and the Knights program,” said NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “I have a front row seat to seeing the EHL team practice each and every day. It gives the players an opportunity to climb the junior hockey ladder. Jake’s a great example of that.”
Fuss and several EHL teammates have been regulars in NAHL practice this year, and both he and forward Tyler Nielsen have played in games at the Tier-II level with the Knights.
“Whenever we get the chance to improve we take it,” said Kowal. “It’s really gratifying, and something we strive for when we can promote someone from within our own organization. We have a great staff here. Josh Fusco does a great job not only putting together a winning hockey team, but also preparing his players for the next level.”
“I feel pretty good,” said Fuss after being told of his promotion. “I was up here a bit last year and this year. From training camp on, a lot of hard work went into getting to this point. It’s good to be up here with the boys.”
Fuss has been a member of the Knights for the past two seasons, playing tier-III in both the NA3AHL last season, and the EHL this year. He’s played in seven NAHL game’s as an affiliated player in that same span.
“The NAHL’s different from the EHL,” said Fuss. “Guys prepare more, it’s a lot faster. I think it’ll take a bit to adjust to the speed, but it’s going to be a good test for where I’m at.”
Fuss will be departing an EHL Knights team that has hit its stride over the past two months, going 10-2-1 since mid-December. He’s confident that they won’t miss a beat.
“They’re in good shape,” he said. “I want to thank them for helping me get to this point. They’re going to be fine without me, they just have to keep working. I think me making it up to the next level is a positive for them. Anthony Starzi and I have both made the jump up this year. It shows that the sky’s the limit if they buckle down and work hard and do the right things. I really want to thank coach Fusco for all the coaching he’s given me over the last two years to help get me to this point.”
“Jake’s a special player,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “All the stats, awards, and recognition he gets-a lot of guys would get cocky-he doesn’t. I’ve coached him for nearly two years now; he’s a very humble person and one of the nicest kids you could ever meet off the ice. He’s brought outstanding leadership as the captain of our team. He motivated our guys to follow our game plan and led by example both in and out of the rink. He’s really stepped up.”
With his full transition to tier-II underway, Fuss is excited to get to work, but focused on his new team, and helping them to achieve their ultimate goal.
“I think the most satisfying thing is just knowing this isn’t just a call up, it’s not just a taste,” he said. “I know I’m up here now as a member of this team. It’ll let me be more comfortable around the guys. My main goal, just like everybody is to make run for a Robertson Cup. I’m focused on doing my best at working hard and helping to get us out of this little bit of a slump we’re in.”
Fuss joins the Knights in their next NAHL action as the team heads to Alaska for the next two weeks. They’ll look to snap a four-game skid that’s seen them go 0-2-2 as they try to maintain 2nd place in the NAHL’s competitive East division.
“Jake does things the right way,” said Kowal. “He adds talent to our line up, but more importantly he brings the right mindset. He’s impossible not to notice. Our organization’s purpose is to advance players to the next level of hockey, and when a player goes out and works his bag off and helps his team every day, that’s impossible for us to ignore. We’re here at the rink, and we’re always looking for standout performers. Jake Fuss proved that to us, and that’s what being a Knights is all about. We’re happy to have him aboard.”
”At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for,” added Fusco. “Jake came here with a goal. He’s a competitor and hockey player. He wanted reach the top level of this organization. He stuck to the grindstone and worked hard every day to make it happen. What’s great about it is that he’s still a Knight. He’s still just down the hall. I’ll still see him out at practice, I still get the chance to work with him, and at the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier for Jake. He and I have become pretty close, and to see him succeed puts a smile on my face. He’s a guy I’ll tell stories about for the rest of my life.”
Catch Fuss and the Knights in their next action on Friday, February, 9th against the Kenai River Brown Bears! Puck drop is 11:30 pm EST and 7:30 pm AKST with the game available online at hockeytv.com!
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