Northeast Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson is a relationship builder. To co-own, and coach an NAHL team with the pressure of helping kids find their next home in the hockey world, you have to be, and he is. As part of the thousands of relationships he has built in his distinguished hockey career, he has helped develop the first Japanese Division One Men’s Ice Hockey player at the NCAA level, Kohei Sato. Sato spent the last four years at the University of New Hampshire, where his speed always stood out as his first contribution on ice. In addition to that speed, he brings a veteran presence and playmaking eye to the Bentley Falcons, where he will be playing his fifth year of college hockey this season. The Falcons have a veteran heavy team with an eye to getting to their second ever Atlantic Hockey Championship, and winning their first one.
The Falcons have never made the NCAA Tournament, and their head coach, Ryan Soderquist, has assembled a roster with graduate transfers like Sato, combined with a strong returning class of Falcons with that simple aim. Sato and his Falcons will have multiple chances to make the college hockey world take notice of them early on. The first three weekends of games for the Falcons have them facing Northeastern, then Ohio State, followed by Boston College. Sato will play an instrumental role in getting the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament, and in leading them this year.
Here is what Erikson said about his time as a General
” Kohei is a great kid and hockey player. He had a relationship with [the late] Richard “Harvey” Jackson who we have an award named after. He was one of my best friends in the world. He was also maybe one of the best and quickest judges of character that we knew. The relationship between Harvey and Kohei was awesome. They would tease each other, hug each other, have long talks, joke around. It was such a sign of Kohei being a special person. As for on the ice his speed is electric. He is the fastest skater I have ever coached or seen in the NA. But his most memorable goal has to be when we were in our first year in Wilkes-Barre playing the Knights. One of our D men shot the puck so wide of the net that it hit Ko in the visor, broke it in half (and broke his nose) but the puck went in for a goal. He was as excited about that goal as any other he ever scored. He Just loves the game.”
This year, Sato will get to face his former teammate, Colin Bilek twice as the top two scorers from the 2016-2017 Generals team will be opponents in conference play. Sato finished second in scoring that year to Bilek, despite playing in 12 less games than Colin did.
As to the future for Kohei, and Erikson’s excitement to see him play, given that Waltham, Massachusetts is only about 45 minutes north of Attleboro. Erikson had the following to say:
” I think Ko’s success in Hockey East speaks for itself. He played a few years in the NA3 then 1 year in the NA and made the jump to UNH where he played for 4 years. He put up 30 points while taking advantage of the ice time he earned. And I think he will bring experience to a good team. He will bring speed and the ability to change the game. Just an outstanding player with gamebreaking speed. And Ko is a professional hockey player. How he does will dictate what level he is at. And we will help as much as we can to ensure he is a great spot. I am excited to go to a few games this year (especially when they play Army) and to see Ko’s continued growth as a person and player.”
Sato has already done the unique thing in playing college hockey, and became a leader for the Wildcats over four years there. Now, he has a chance to help lead the Falcons to what would be the most unique thing for their program, their first ever NCAA Tournament trip. It would be the program’s first ever national postseason, and a fitting cap to the distinguished college hockey career Sato has had. His path to get to this point is a testament to his hard work, positive attitude that is common amongst Generals’ alums, and his consistent ability to develop on and off the ice.
Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts
Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.