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!