Tag Archives: Josh Fusco

Fuss To Play D3 Hockey at New England

He was one of the most dominant players in tier III hockey, and now Jake Fuss gets an opportunity to take his talents to the NCAA Division III level, with the forward committing to the University of New England.

“The campus is beautiful and the coaching staff were welcoming and approachable during this process,” said Fuss on making his decision. “I really see myself enjoying the next four years there.”

Fuss, 20, spent his final junior season with the NAHL Knights. That was earned by an outstanding performance in the tier III level of junior hockey. Fuss first came to the Knights when the organization had an NA3AHL team during the 2016-17 season. In just 33 games, he went on a pace that can only be found otherwise on a video game, piling up 65 goals and 64 assists for a tier III record-129 points. He followed with 67 points in 41 games the next season before earning his shot on the NAHL roster.

” We as a staff felt Jake deserved his shot in the North American Hockey League,” said General Manager and Head Coach Tom Kowal. ” He played some games with us before this year, but his stats tell the story. He’s a highly skilled player who can be an asset to any team he plays for. We were fortunate he spent three years with us, and now it’s time for Jake to be an asset for the University of New England over the next four years.”

Nobody can dispute that Fuss made contributions in the second half of the 2018-19 season that helped the Knights improve as an entire team and subsequently keep their playoff hopes alive right until the very end. The Fairfield, CT native notched 18 goals in the second half alone and became the sixth player in NAHL Knights’ history to record a 20 goal season. He finished the campaign with 28 points in his last 29 games.

Number 11 now heads to the University of New England, joining the Nor’easters this fall. Though his story with the Knights has come to an end, Fuss will not forget his time in gray and blue, and thanks the ones who helped him throughout.

“I have to give a big thank you to the Edwards and Mahaffey families,” said Fuss.  “They really welcomed me to their homes and treated me like one of their kids. The coaching staff really helped me develop over the past three years to become a better hockey player and person off the ice. Every practice and film session we did really helped prepare me for the weekend and ultimately make me a better player as the season went on. I would also like to say thank you to Josh Fusco. He really believed in me and helped me get to where I am today. Paul Celona (athletic trainer) was absolutely the best. He took care of me for the three years and I can’t thank the guy enough.”

“Being a Knight was special. I made a lot of life long friends, and I wish the organization nothing but the best .”

EHL WBS Knights

Year concluded with Championship appearance

Every year as the season changes from summer to fall, it’s time for the staff in Pittston, PA. inside Revolution Ice Centre to dial in and prepare for the start of another long, daily journey that will take up the bulk of their year. A junior hockey season is full of ups and downs and knowing that you can’t expect everything, because anything can happen.

That said, Head Coach of the Eastern Hockey League’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, Josh Fusco, had one goal in mind from the start. “The goal from day one was to create a  family with this group. I really wanted to dial in on personal growth and development, teach them the process of what it’s like to have hockey as a job, make it a priority,  have them grow as a player and as an adult on and off the ice. Obviously I want to win, but I really needed to sit down and get a game plan for these kids as a team and individually to grow and develop and I knew if we could do that, the x’s and o’s would fall into place and the success of the team would come with it all.”

Family isn’t always perfect. Coach Fusco’s goal to create a family was certainly met with its’ typical family adversity. After the Knights lost the opening two games of the season, the club went on a five game winning streak. The following month, they found themselves on the opposite side of a five game skid.

“When I first came here, we were just an average team with tons of potential,” said forward Matt Mood. ” We didn’t have the best start but once the boys all started to buy into coach Fusco’s systems and played like we were all in this together, we really came around to be an amazing team. We peaked at the right time.”

Mood, a player who would commit to Chatham University in December, credits this team for helping him get to the next stage where he will play NCAA college hockey in the fall of 2019. “Playing on this team  developed me into a more dynamic player, and going from wing back to center really helped me offensively finding the sweet spots.”

Though it was a positive for Mood to commit, the month of December had its’ negatives for the team as a whole. From late December into early January, the Knights had dropped four straight, bubbling as a .500 team that seemed stuck. Then, the spark was lit.

Wilkes-Barre bounced out of a skid with three straight wins, then after one loss, the team went on to post a season-best 10 game winning streak. This helped the Knights not only get into the playoffs, but finish as the 3rd seed where they would meet the Apple Core in round one, followed by besting the division-winning New Jersey 87’s in a three game series to advance to the EHL Frozen Finals.

“Our season had many ups and downs, but we never quit because of how our coach handled each day for us to achieve or learn,” said leading scorer, Hunter Bersani. “He held all of us to a very high standard which is where all of our personal success became team success. We went from struggling half way through the season to be an above .500 team, to one of the top four teams in the league and that is something no one can take from us.”

Though their trip to Providence for the Frozen Finals didn’t end the way they anticipated, the Knights turned a season around and became one of the league’s elite. This was the first time in the brief two year history of the EHL franchise that they made it to the Frozen Finals. To start the season with 17 other teams and finish among the final four is something to be admired. The season offered teaching points to all, including the coach himself.

“The journey no doubt helped me learn and develop,” said Fusco. “I spent many nights breaking video down and individualizing things of what I specifically needed to work on with each guy. It helped me deal with ups and downs of a season and to keep pushing myself to learn in order to help these kids learn. I have a lot to take away from this year and this team made me a better coach. I cant thank these kids enough for their hard work and dedication. They wanted to be here and they wanted to have success and it helped me as a coach. You have to keep going, be positive, take the bad times, the tough times, and work through and ultimately take risks, try new things and honestly know how to have fun. I had a lot of fun with this group.

“There are plenty of memories from this season that I will never forget,” said Mood. “We had a close group of guys in that locker room, we truly were brothers and would do anything to help each other. It was a special group.”

“All I can say is thank you to the staff, coaches, and teammates for making this the most exciting year of hockey I’ve ever played,” said Bersani.

“I think we turned a lot of heads and we were able to go to the finals,” said Stevenson University commit, Anthony Starzi.  “Didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was a great experience and one I won’t ever forget. The younger guys definitely helped us get through the stretch and I think now that they know what it takes to get to the finals they will be able to take next years’ team to the distance again.

As several 1998 born players have skated in their final junior hockey games, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights would like to wish Hunter Bersani, Anthony Starzi, Matt Passaretti, Emerson Emery, and Zach Ouladelhadjamed the absolute best of luck in their future endeavors.


EHL Standout Anthony Starzi Gets Call to the NAHL from Philadelphia Rebels

Photo via EHL

Anthony Starzi has been a mainstay for the Knights in the EHL this season. Through 27 games, the ’98 forward has registered 21 goals and 21 assists, ranked second on his team and eighth in the Eastern Hockey League. This week he’s been called up to the Philadelphia Rebels of the NAHL.

The Rebels enter Friday in second place in the NAHL’s East division, one point behind the Knights NAHL team. Starzi’s eye-catching speed, effort, and scoring ability will fit in with Philadelphia’s 3rd ranked offense.

“I’m very excited for Anthony,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “The hard work he has put in is paying off and I’m very proud of everything he’s done so far this season as a Knight. He has earned this opportunity.”

Starzi has been a machine in all situations for the Knights. His three shorthanded goals are tied for the second-highest mark in the EHL. His five goals and four assists while on the man advantage have helped spur a drastic turnaround for the Knights power play unit, currently ranked 7th in the league.

“It just goes to show what we are doing here works,” said Fusco. “Moving guys like Anthony on to the next level is rewarding for all parties. He’s been the hardest working kid day in and day out for this team. I hope he does well, and I will be cheering him on every step of the way.”

Starzi will join the Rebels in their final games before the holiday break. The entire Knights organization thanks Anthony for his tremendous effort on and off the ice to help better his team and the Knights program. They will be eagerly following him every step of the way of his career, rooting for him at every turn.

WBS Knights NAHL Team Adds EHL Franchise as an Affiliate

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights North American Hockey League team have added an Eastern Hockey League franchise as an affiliate. Beginning in 2017-18 the Knights will field a tier-III team at the premiere and elite levels of the EHL. The new franchise will exist alongside the Knights tier-II NAHL team.

Go to www.wbsknights.com or contact Head Coach Josh Fusco for more information. Coach Fusco (607) 435-6885 or [email protected]

Fresh Off of Record-Setting Season, Fuss Leads Knights Charge into Playoffs

With a full-cage helmet impeding his efforts, it soon joined a discarded pair of gloves on the ice of what would soon become his home for the 2016-17 season. With his equipment out  of the way and his hands raised, Jake Fuss squared up his opponent before exchanging a bout of fists to put a punctuation mark on his performance at Knights main camp. It was with that tenacity that Fuss made a lasting impression with the Knights staff last summer. It’s what continues to stand out to NA3AHL Knights head coach Josh Fusco.

“He has constant go in him and the more you put on him and the harder you push him, he just turns the dial up another notch,” he said. “You can look at Jake on the ice or the bench and you know the kid is ready and chomping at the bit to get right back out there.”

It’s with that same tenacity that Fuss set the tier-III single-season goals scored record last Saturday. The mark had previously been held by Dallas McLaughlin who scored 60 goals for the Marquette Royals of the MNJHL in 2013-14. With a four-goal effort against the Jersey Wildcats Saturday evening, Fuss set the new record at 63. He added two more last Sunday to close out his regular season with 65.

“I was kind of aware of it,” said Fuss on the significance of his Saturday performance. “I didn’t know out there when I scored, but [Josh] Kim and I have been kind of neck and neck all year and following the tier-III stats, so I knew he and I were close. It was kind of cool coming off the ice, learning I had set the record.”

Standing at 6-0 and weighing in at 175, Fuss’ speed and strength on the ice are evident to anyone attending one of his performances. His consistency is too. In 33 games, Fuss tallied goals in 31 of them. 22 of those performances were multi-goal efforts, 10 of which saw him record a hat trick or better. Heading into the playoffs, he carries with him a 19-game goal streak.

“Jake’s game throughout the season has gotten much better; he’s really grasped the concepts myself and the staff have pointed out to him,” said Fusco. “He’s an outstanding player with the puck, the things he’s able to do are eye-opening. When it’s on his stick, you can’t take your eyes off him because you know something is about to happen. It’s not just that though-his battle on the boards and his d-zone are strong. The harder you hit him, the harder he pushes back.”

Beyond the record, the Fairfield, Connecticut native has recorded at least one point in every game he’s played in 2016-17, was the first player drafted for Team Red at the NA3AHL All-Star game and has earned multiple games with the Knights NAHL team. Despite all the individual achievements, Fuss was quick to credit his teammates for his success.

“Between, me, Kim, and Hendrick [Simard], I’ve been part of a line that’s been clicking all year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of chemistry and we’re always able find each other out there on the ice. Josh Kim passed the old goals record last weekend too.”

Kim finished just four goals behind Fuss in regular season play, but recorded three more assists to give him 128 points on the year to the latter’s 129. With Simard’s totals included, the trio combined to accumulate 158 goals, 172 assists and 330 points. Spending most of their ice time alongside one another allowed the line mates to often pace a tremendous Knights forecheck that averaged just over eight goals a game. Through all the numbers, the head coach was equally impressed with his points leader’s attitude.

“It’s something special, what he has,” Fusco said. “His passion for this game and his success with the game are obvious, but mostly Jake is team-first guy. I think that’s something I don’t think people realize because of all his individual success. His work ethic and behavior are just contagious and it brings out the best in his teammates. It’s one of the main reasons why so early on I put a letter on his chest.”

With the Knights set to kick off their NA3AHL postseason tonight against the Exton Bulls, expectations are high. The Knights finished in 2nd place in the NA3AHL’s regular season with a record of 32-4-0, and will take a 14-game winning streak into the playoffs. In six meetings, the Knights swept Exton in convincing manner, but still Fuss maintains a grounded approach.

“I’m nervous heading into the playoffs, but it’s a good nervous,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success against them [Exton] and everybody else this season, but we have to go out there and prove what we’ve all been able to accomplish was no fluke. I think it’s cool I was able to set a record this year, but I want to win a championship. That’s what I’m here for.”