Jake Kucharski: Forging his path at AIC

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

AIC goaltender Jake Kucharski had some thoughts on what fellow Hurricanes’ draft pick Jack Lafontaine went through when he signed with Carolina. “It’s cool you know, I got to know Jack a little bit at the development camps, he’s a great guy he’s really deserving of it… this year his opportunity came.”

Jake added , “Maybe we could have a nice little one two punch one day, we’ll see.”

As for why he left Providence, Kucharski noted the following, while expressing nothing but the best feelings towards the program. After the start of the pandemic, Providence simply had too many goalies coming in the next season.

Kucharski added “I knew that my best chance to play would be somewhere else; I have no ill will towards there.”

AIC was the first to reach out and “they recruited me the hardest. It really worked out. There’s a potential to do something special this year.”

Kucharski embraces playing on a team full of underdogs and views himself as one. As he said, “For me growing up I’ve always been an underdog, I wasn’t the best junior goalie, I didn’t get a lot of time at Providence, that’s always been my story, the kid who has a lot of potential. It’s always going to be a bonding point between us all.”

As to why he played hockey and is a goaltender, his dad took him to learn to skates at Mercyhurst, as he’s from the Erie area. A year later he played house league, he then played goalie for a few years before he turned ten. The local travel team wanted a goalie and “I really liked it.. I’ll give it a shot for a year.” He has not looked back since.

He praised working with Patrick Tabb, AIC’s goalie coach as being a font of knowledge. “He doesn’t make it seem like it’s a chore to come to the rink. He’s definitely made the transition a lot easier.”

On his coach Eric Lang’s philosophy of goalie pulling( Lang doesn’t do it very much as he feels it “absolves” the team in front of the netminder for their hockey sins) “ I really like it, in juniors a few of my coaches didn’t really use it… I like to be in there and work it out… for me it’s a good mental test as well , can you put the past behind you?”

He explained how he plays best, with his personality being fun and loose.

“I kind of just play with my personality.” If he’s having fun he’s playing better.

Adding on to the mental aspect of things, he discussed how his role in calming the game against North Dakota in its final 40 minutes helped prepare himself for the season he is having. He said that “mentally , definitelt, I think getting thrown in like that to a game against North Dakota, just to be out there and prove myself.. just proving it to myself and other people it definitely added to my confidence coming into the year. The last 40 minutes we tied the number one team in the country.”

He added on to the underdog aspect of so many players at AIC serving as a rallying point, saying , “Us knowing what we’re capable of, we’re so close, and we’ve played against a lot of good teams and a lot of really good hockey players. Maybe not given the same respect and attention as some of these other players. That’s definitely a (bonding point) in our program.”

He added something many may not realize about his team , “I guess just how our guys are, we’ve got 30 plus guys in that locker room, we are a big community of leaders .. just having a room full of great leaders.”

Kucharski is a guitar player and would like to do something in the music industry upon his career ending. “If I could have a career in the music industry that’d be great.” If he could hear any song before stopping a penalty shot in the overtime of the NCAA Tournament he picked Levels by Avicii.

He finished discussing what Head Coach Eric Lang brings to the team and how he works to know his team on and off the ice. He added that Lang goes above and beyond which shows “ just how personal he really tries to be with his players.” Every week his team has three in three tournaments. He mentioned that his team won the last three on three tournament and had steak dinner that Lang and his wife cooked for them at the Lang residence. “He’s always trying to know your personality and who you are off the ice.”

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