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:
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:
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.”