Matthew Jennings: Read what he brings to the Herd at UAH

Graphic Credit: Total Package Hockey

Photo Credit: Ohio State University Athletics

Matthew Jennings is a Buford Georgia native who spent the first three years of his college hockey career at Ohio State. Through overcoming injuries, the Georgian has gotten a chance to play the game he loves as part of a hockey family. His Dad Steve taught him about hockey, and he has always been encouraged by him. Steve taught him the value of hard work on and off the ice, and has been one of his coaches through the Total Package Hockey program. Jennings praised the honesty of his dad, and his ability to keep things on the level with him. That same honesty and ability to build relationships is something Jennings has taken into his hockey career.

Jennings is a consistent two way center who has a battle level that made his game ideal for what the Chargers Coaching staff is looking for. While he has battled injuries in his time at Ohio State, his resume with the Buckeyes and the Green Bay Gamblers speak to the type of player he is. He is a hard nosed, two way forward that prides himself on outworking the opponent at all times. In a way, parts of his game are similar to one of his friends, and the other Buford native to play hockey for the Chargers, Connor Wood who is good friends with Jennings. Of the school and the hockey program, according to Jennings, Wood told him ” nothing but positives.”

On what the coaching staff told him, he said that the staff said that there was ” nothing guaranteed”, and that he will have to earn every second of ice time. That does not at all phase Jennings, and he praised the staff at large personally, saying ” I like them both as people.” For the type of culture all three coaches have talked about building, adding a player with the mentality of Jennings, and one with solid two way potential, is an ideal add for a team looking for more depth at its center position.

With Jennings’ family now living two hours away from Huntsville, they will get to see him play in a lot of games. While his entire family is happy that Jennings is a lot closer to home, Jennings singled out the excitement of one of his family members. As he said ” my mom is pumped.”

When his hockey career comes to an end, Jennings wants to be a financial planner. He belives it combines the best of what he likes most, relationship building and numbers. As he said, “I Really like Math…. also you get to have personal connections with people.. its not all crunching numbers.”

As for his time asa Buckeye, Jennings is nothing but thankful for the relationships he has built with his former teammates. Multiple times when talking about the game and what he cherishes most about it, the ability to form lasting bonds with his team, no matter at what level of the game he has played it at, means the most to him. As a Charger, he now has the ability to forge new relationships, and provide another example to a young group working to improve on its past season, and learn from how they arrived at its conclusion.

Growing up, playing for the TPH program Jennings would get to come to the Von Braun Center at least once a season. He saw what Charger Hockey meant, and was part of the superb atmosphere that its fans bring to games every night. Now, he will be one of the players that those same youth hockey players in attendance get to look up to, playing closer to his family. While nothing is guaranteed for where the forward will play this season or how much, his path to rehab after his injury at Ohio State, combined with his tenacious effort on and off the ice to improve, it is clear that Jennings is ready to help lead the Herd to greater heights this season. On getting to come back and play as a Charger, after growing up getting his love for the game of college hockey at UAH games, Jennings aptly said ” Its kind of funny how the universe works.”

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Danbury returns the favor, defeating the Northeast Generals 8-3: Now What?

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Tonight, the Generals came up on the wrong side of an 8-3 result against the Junior Hat Tricks of Danbury. The Generals got off to a good start, scoring the first two goals before the Junior Hat Tricks put together a superb second period, and handed them the same fate they were given by Bryan Erikson’s group last Friday night .

Erikson had this to say on a positive takeaway from this tough game.

” Only real positive we take is that it’s clear when we play simple smart hockey we win. When we play individually and selfishly we have periods like the 2nd. A loss is only real bad if you don’t learn from it. And the way the boys battled I think they got the message.”

In that second period, the Generals conceded goals in different ways, all brought on, in part by a Jr. Hat Tricks team able to get to the dangerous areas of the ice. Hugo Haas fought valiantly, but had to face a lot more top end chances than he did a night ago, and he could not save his team tonight. With that said, his ability to battle and stay calm was a constant even in the face of the force of the offense coming against him.

Going forward, Erikson stressed the need for a short memory, saying

” Continue to work and just focus on the next game. It’s 1 loss. Lose by 12 or lose by 1 they count the same. Only bad loss is one you don’t get anything out of and we have smart enough guys to get that message.”

He added ” back to work.”

This week, Erikson and his staff will work on further honing the transition game and winning battles along the walls. Over these last two games, Danbury outplayed the Generals in both of those areas, and for the Generals to make a playoff run, they have to be ready next week. They play the Black Bears of Maryland next weekend, and will look to get back to their recent winning ways as they battle for a playoff spot.

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Jonathan Young- A dependable Northeast General looking for his NCAA home

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Family, honesty, and growth. If you could string together three words that describe the most important things to North East Generals’ forward Jonathan Young, those three sum up the values of one of the most consistent players on the Generals. Young is so humble about his NAHL career, he did not even realize that he was about to hit the 100 point milestone until his mom Karen told him a few days before he did it against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks.

Young enjoys being only an hour away from his family in New Hampshire. They attend his games whenever possible. Young’s singular most favorite food is Karen’s chicken parmesan (it would be his last meal, if he could eat anything). As homemade chicken parmesan is considered to be reliably a source of strength and comfort for those who enjoy it, Young’s consistency this year has been a source of comfort to Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson. Under his tutelage Young has turned himself into a reliable, and dependable two way forward who models himself on the game of his favorite player on his favorite team, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. Now he is in the final stretch of figuring out where he will play next year. As of now, all of the schools interested in him are Atlantic Hockey schools, which all play a rugged game chock full of players with the upside, potential, skill and talent like Young’s. On choosing his school, Young said it best on where he wants to go saying he would like to be “somewhere I’ll play… and somewhere where I can set myself up for the rest of my life.” He is undecided on a major but has interest in being an entrepreneur following his hockey career, and plans on taking business classes as part of his academic journey in college.

On how Erikson has helped him grow, Young said “I’ve probably never played for a coach like him before.” Young will forever cherish his experience with the Generals program as great. He is looking to join a college with a similar feel to the Generals. He wants to play for whichever school will give him the best chance to thrive, and an atmosphere that feels like home to him, similar to what Erikson and the Generals have done for him. He praised the #CommitJYoung campaign started by current General Manager Matt Dibble. Every time Young dazzles on the ice, the team highlights it with the hashtag. In most any other year, most players with Young’s pedigree would have some sort of scholarship offer in hand and a commitment made. He acknowledged how tough the extra year of eligibility for all players who played the college game this year has made things for players with a 2000 birth year. With that said, he and the Generals are undeterred in helping him find his next home. When he was also the general manager Erikson saw the future potential in Young that colleges are seeing now. In addition, Erikson was effusive and detailed of his growth saying the following

“Jonathan was always a player I coveted. Big, can skate and can rip the puck. The one knock on him was that he was just a goal scorer. That he didn’t use his size. And I felt with the way we emphasize the forecheck he could thrive in those areas of his game that needed work. But I think as he matured so did his game. I also believe that the relationship he has with the organization has helped him. He trusts us. We asked him to change his game a little and he bought in completely. He is now very very physical, has learned to be a great penalty killer, is a weapon on the Power Play and is a guy I rely on in the defensive zone. Those are parts of his game that he maybe wasn’t forced to do before. But he has come here and worked so incredibly hard both on and off the ice to improve. I am so proud of him as a person. Just a wonderful kid that craves knowledge. Always reading, always wanting to get more knowledgeable about whatever the topic is, space, science, history, habit building you name it. Just a curious kid that works hard at everything and you are seeing that hard work pay off with his production on the ice. He is not only going to be a very successful division 1 hockey player he is going to be an extremely successful person.”

As for what Young wants to accomplish with the Generals in his final games of junior hockey. He still sees potential in a group looking to extend its win streak to five this weekend in their two game road trip to Danbury. As he said of this group, featuring a team that has spent most of its year on the road “I think we could do something special this year.”

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

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Alexander Tertyshny: Learning, growing, and leading

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy- Patrick Garriepy Photography

Alexander Tertyshny has been on a unique path in his hockey life. The son of Flyers defenseman Dmitri, he never got to know him as Dmitri passed away in a tragic boating accident shortly before Alexander was born, following a breakout rookie season in the league, but still has left a legacy Tertyshny is following on. Like his father, Alexander is a puck moving defender with an ability to make others around him better. One thing that stands out about his father’s ascent to the NHL was his persistence. Dmitri took a spot on the Flyers with his play and earned a full season in the biggest league in the world.

Initially, Alexander did not want to play hockey, the first day his family put skates on him he cried. That did not last long, as he soon wanted to skate around with his friends. Before too long, he, like Dmitri ended up at defense. He enjoys the cerebral aspect to being a defender, and having the versatility to impact so many parts of the game. For inspiration and guidance, he still watches Dmitri’s games and to this day continues to learn from his father. He has spent most of his life in America, summering in Chelabyinsk, as his mom soon had help from his grandmother to raise Alexander after his father’s accident.

In his time in Pennsylvania, Alexander always knew that he would play hockey. He saw his first college hockey game in the 2013 National Championship between Yale and Quinnipiac in Pittsburgh. He remembered the speed and environment. As for his family, well they always wanted him to go the college route. As Alexander said “the deciding factor was… my mom said that Dmitri wanted to raise him in the states, get a college education, and be set for life beyond college hockey.” In addition he added that, “I kind of want to inspire more Russian players to get over here.”

After his high school career ended at Choate Rosemary Hall, he went back to his father’s hometown and put together two superb years (one full season, and one partial season) for the MHL team in his family’s hometown Belye Medvedi. They are the developmental juniors team associated with Traktor Chelabyinsk in the KHL, the program that produced current Washington center, Evgeni Kuznetsov. There, he drew the attention of many teams in the college game, but chief among them was American International College. He praised the work of former Associate Head Coach, Stephen Wiedler in building the needed trust over multiple seasons, starting after his time at Choate Rosemary Hall was finishing during his time in the MHL.

The best example of this is in how they communicated. Wiedler did not know the popular social media app, Whatsapp was the best way to communicate with Alexander, and after some time downloaded it in and learned a new app to communicate with a recruit for a school he is not still at . He now is an assistant at Vermont.

As to why he is joining AIC, Alexander noted a lot of reasons, but they centered around the ascendancy of the program, combined with its strong international background. He noted that alumnae Patrik Demel reached out to him on joining AIC, among others. As Alexander said ” AIC is just full of really good guys.” He also noted similar paths to play in the KHL that alum Janis Jaks took, combined with the feel of the campus. It all fit for him, so he decided to become a Yellow Jacket.

Like his father, Alexander likes to control the pace of the game, and set the tone for his team on the ice. During his time with the Northeast Generals, he has done that, playing a leadership role for the group since he got to the team in a trade deadline deal with Corpus Christi. While he can play the forward position, his home, as the Generals realized, is on the blue line. The assistant captain will not always fill the net with goals, but can score a highlight reel goal when needed, and often provides a good breakout pass to get his team going towards the net. He will have to work to earn a spot in the top six next year, but is more than ready for the challenge. His ascent up the prep ranks, junior ranks, and his journey in life have all prepared him for this next step.

Of Alexander, Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson said many great things, including

” Alexander is one of the best kids I have ever coached. Just a happy kid that makes those around him excited to play. He is obviously a very talented player but it’s his energy and positivity that is so valuable and why he is such a great leader. On the ice his skating and vision are elite. He sees the ice so well and puts his teammates in a good position at all time’s. He has a great stick and gaps and it allows him to transition up the ice so quickly. Really proud of the kid he is and the player he is turning into. I think Coach Lang has a great one coming his way in the fall!”

Erikson went on to discuss his off ice background

” [Alexander is] just an amazing kid that I will forever have in my life. He is just a wonderful person that I care so much about. His life hasn’t been the easiest and he’s still the happiest kid in the room. And it isn’t an act. He lets me scream at him at time’s always knowing I have his back. It’s the best thing a coach can have, the trust of a player to coach them and know you are looking out for them as a player and a person.”

Alexander said this of the Generals, and Erikson

” I absolutely love Bryan Eriskon.. cannot thank him enough for everything he’s done for me as a player and as a person.. he is definitely someone I am proud to play for. I owe a lot to Brian.. and definitely want to maintain a great relationship.”

For the rest of the year, the goal of Alexander and Erikson is the same, to get the Generals on the right track to head to the NAHL playoffs. When the year is over, the two will stay in touch and Tertyshny will prepare for the next step in his life of joining the Yellow Jackets. In a year, he will be joined by his goaltender, Hugo Haas. The two are best friends and often spend time together outside of the rink. While on the ice, their battles are often a split decision. Off the ice, all in good fun, the story is the same. Tertyshny thinks he is better in NHL and FIFA games, while Haas has the edge in Rocket League (this part about video games was Alexander’s recollection).

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

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Three Thoughts on UMD-UND: More on history from last night

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Those who attended the Midwest Regional Final at Scheels Arena last night ended up leaving early this morning in a 3-2 Minnesota Duluth win that took a grueling 142:13 to conclude. Luke Mylymok blocked a Jasper Weatherby shot, then took the puck the other way and got a shot on UND netminder Adam Scheel that went five hole and in. Beyond the immediate joy and despair on full display when the puck went in the net last night, there is more from this game that deserves further noting.

Perspectives on pauses

Minnesota Duluth ended up playing over two games in Fargo this weekend given their first round match against Michigan being declared a no contest. To everyone’s credit the extra rest the Bulldogs had did not in anyway give them an advantage against UND. While it makes you wonder what would have happened should the Bulldogs played Michigan, the reality is you will not ever find that answer out. North Dakota’s first round opponent, AIC, had 49 days between the end of their regular season and the start of their postseason. Despite winning their tournament they had to battle back through similar slumps that they faced against UND that proved insurmountable. Head Eric Lang wished he could have played more games towards the end of the season, and tried to even schedule Clarkson before their season was canceled.

How does this relate to last night’s (this morning’s?) result?

Simply to note that having a pause, whether it be 49 days with AIC, or one extra day with Minnesota Duluth’s case, is not the advantage some could make it out to be. AIC had to battle back in both of their games just to make it to Fargo. North Dakota nearly won the game several times in overtime, with the most notable coming on Jasper Weatherby shooting the puck on to the top of the net, where it sat. The Fighting Hawks looked as fresh as the Bulldogs all night, and outside of an 80 second stretch in the third where the Bulldogs potted the first two goals of the night, UND played arguably their best all around game all year. They only took three penalties on the night, had 154 shot attempts, and played a complete game against a great team in Minnesota Duluth. Sometimes, especially in this sport, you lose those games, where you are the better team on the shot clock.

On Minnesota Duluth

Credit Head Coach Scott Sandelin and his staff for this season. The Bulldogs do not really rebuild under Sandelin, they seem to plug in players to his system and have all of their details refined down to their finest point. This team is one of the most disciplined at keeping to their system in this sport, and last night and this morning it showed. When the Bulldogs looked to have won on an earlier rush that was offsides on the same side of the ice and near the same spot that Mylymok gained the zone, they did not stop. UND threw wave upon wave of chances towards them and the Bulldogs never stopped doing what they did to get them their first lead. They clogged lanes, took away grade a chances, and blocked shots. They had to change goaltenders in the fourth overtime and Ryan Fanti came in relief of Zach Stejskal and while not tested nearly as much as the starter, still had to make a few tough saves to even set up the overtime winner. Scott Sandelin’s system and his attention to detail in every aspect of his program set this historic game up. To beat North Dakota this year, teams had to play their best and make less mistakes than them. The Bulldogs did that.

On North Dakota

For some perspective on this, let’s look at what Army West Point Head Coach Brian Riley said after his group had their season ended in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals by Canisius in overtime “if this is the worst thing that happens in our lives… then life’s going to be pretty good.” This quote comes from the leader of a service academy school that will not have the extra year of eligibility as an option for any of their players due to the requirements of the service academies.

For the Fighting Hawks, they were the best team in the country for the majority of the season, as St. Cloud State will tell you, that does not always win championships. They will have an elite roster of players signing professional contracts this offseason, and could have some seniors choose to come back as well. This program continuously will have some of the most talented recruits coming through its doors, and while the standard is always high at North Dakota, last night showed why. The Fighting Hawks have a strong program, fan base, and professional legacy of alums playing hockey at the highest levels around the world. None of that changes with the result of last night. Over the coming months, seeing who is coming back for them will go a long way to determining for what next season’s team will look like, as will any transfer portal additions (by the time this season ends, there easily could be over 200 players in the transfer portal). Adam Scheel played the game of his life last night, and showed his improvement from last season, and along the way this year to get to where he is now.

He is ready to sign a professional contract and work his way to the NHL, as are many of the players on this team. Their choice for their next steps is up to them. With all of that said, when you look at things in perspective, last night was a supreme exhibition of skill from both teams, playing in an event we did not get to have last season, where one team had to win and one had to lose. The final score takes away nothing from the effort of the Fighting Hawks, and their efforts in defeat only show how tough of a path the Bulldogs had to travel to win.

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Undrafted Free Agents to watch at the 2021 Fargo Regional

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

This week, we will see four teams converge upon Scheels Arena in Fargo North Dakota to faceoff for a trip to the 2021 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks. These teams all have top end talent, and people we will see in the NHL one day. Each team has more than one undrafted free agent worth noting, and we will discuss four undrafted free agents to watch that should have an immediate impact in professional hockey. We selected one from each team to discuss, that we will be watching this weekend.

American International College

Tobias Fladeby

The winger from Asker, Norway has nine goals and 17 total points on the season. Along with his goal scoring prowess, he has proven the ability to do it against the two best teams AIC has played. four of his goals have come against Quinnipiac (2), and Army West Point (2). Head Coach Eric Lang and the staff at AIC love his release and ability to get to key areas of the ice and find the back of the net. If he does not return to AIC, he up front, and Brennan Kapcheck on defense are two of the quietly more popular undrafted free agents on the market that have the speed and skill needed to make the NHL. Fladeby’s greatest skill this past weekend was his off puck awareness. That is, he knows where to go on the ice to get himself space. For AIC to shock some more people in Fargo, he needs to make his presence known this weekend.

University of Michigan

Strauss Mann

If the goaltender decides to go pro, the NHL may be ready for him now. As ESPN Color Analyst for the Fargo Regional, Dave Starman said of what Mann’s game involves, saying that he is. “athletic, aggressive depth, good stick down low, most importantly he is always square to the puck.” He praised how big the 6 feet tall Mann plays, and noted that he reminds him in style of Byron Dafoe. Mann is the Big 10’s Goalie of the Year and a deserving Mike Richter Award Nominee, his ability to keep the Wolverines in what promises to be a close game against the reigning back-to-back national champions, Minnesota Duluth. For all of the star power the Wolverines have, from their numerous high-end draft picks to players that will be drafted in the top 10 this summer, Mann has been the key to this group. If the Wolverines can defeat the Bulldogs, and earn a trip to the Frozen Four, Mann will be a big part of that. His style of play, and fundamental skill lends itself well to the next level, and he should have offers to choose from this summer. If we returns to Ann Arbor, he will have two years of eligibility left.

Minnesota Duluth

Louie Roehl

While Roehl is not the offensive defender that fans of the Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey team have been lucky to see in Dylan Samberg or Scott Perunovich, he plays the game the right way, and is superb at making life tough for the skilled forwards he sees on a nightly basis in the NCHC. As we said in our NCHC preview of Roehl “A responsible defender with improved skating to compliment his high hockey IQ, this 5-foot-10 senior may not possess Perunovich’s point-producing upside, but he makes up for it with solid play in his own end. Roehl can be counted on to maintain a slot presence and keeps loose pucks out of harm’s way or show poise under pressure when a line change is in order. Roehl is not flashy by any means, but he should be an intriguing long-term option for an NHL club in need of a mature defensive defenseman at the AHL level.” If Roehl can develop and earn his way up in a system needing veteran leadership, he could work his way to an NHL job within a few years. For now, his calmness under pressure, and ability to make the life of scoring forwards he faces quite tough are two things that the Bulldogs will need as they look to advance to the Frozen Four.

North Dakota

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Adam Scheel

For the Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team, they are blessed with two goaltenders in Adam Scheel and Peter Thome who are both capable of playing professional hockey. One of them, Adam Scheel, has wrested control of the net all for himself most of the season, and its not hard to see why. The Lakewood, Ohio native has gotten considerably better at maintaining his positioning throughout the game. His biggest improvement is not so much his positioning, but in how he plays the game. That is, he rebounds quickly from goals he allows, and lets the number one team in front of him find a way to get the goal back. Regardless of what he chooses to do, he will most certainly end up at an NHL development camp this summer, and he may earn a contract pretty soon after UND’s season ends. Teams that get athletic goaltenders that know how to manage the ebb and flow of a game, typically like what the see. The Lakewood, Ohio native has all of those traits and more. His ability to manage games is one reason why the Fighting Hawks have a strong enough team to earn their ninth NCAA Division One Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship this season.

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

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Hugo Haas on why he chose AIC, and more

Photo Credit Patrick Garriepy- Patrick Garriepy Photography

Hugo Haas has come a long way just to play in the North American Hockey League for the Northeast Generals. The Opava, Czech Republic native has always had goaltending on his mind. His father, Rotislav was his inspiration. He had a 17 year career playing across different professional leagues in Europe, culminating in finishing with the team he now coaches goaltending for, the Augsburg Panthers in the DEL, the top professional German Ice Hockey . When Hugo discussed his style of goaltender he tries to be like, he shared something his father told him that he takes to heart. The saying, as Hugo noted is “stealing is bad, but stealing with your eyes is a good thing.” That is, Haas is inspired by other goaltenders, of which he watches many on a daily basis, and tries to play his own game in the process. He wants to develop his game and his off ice skills with time, and enjoys the steady grind of improving his game. Hockey has been his life, but he knows that playing college hockey will give him not only a better chance to make the NHL, but he appreciates being able to get his degree.

As he said on the opportunity to be seen and develop. “Just the exposure that it has… Obviously you have an education to it..its a little different than Europe.. I think it’s a good route to develop”, Haas is undecided on what he wants to do for a major yet, but is looking forward to begin that internal process of deciding soon, given that he just announced his decision to come to AIC today. He did note that, unlike the European system, he appreciates being able to earn a degree along with playing hockey instead of having to choose between the two when his junior hockey career is complete.

Haas was methodical about choosing where to play. On why he will be a Yellow Jacket, he said “ I just liked the way that they overall presented themselves.” He praised the international history of the program, and their European connections. He felt that the school does a good job working with players from all around the world, and he also is a teammate of Alexander Tertyshny who will join AIC next year. Haas plans to join the program for the 2022-2023 season. He called Alexander his best friend, and noted the frequent friendly competitive battles the two have during practice. Head Coach Eric Lang has talked about the growth of the program being in part because of “players recruiting other players,” with Hugo, that could also extend the saying to recruits recruiting other recruits.

As to how he came to the North American Hockey League, and is playing for the Generals this and next year, Head Coach Bryan Erikson said, that “I first saw tape of him from one of his Coaches Mike McCarthy and then I saw him play in a showcase over here. Wanted to get him over last year but he had visa issues. So we got him over here for this season and we were not disappointed! What jumps out at you when you watch Hugo for the 1st time or 50th time is his composure. He is just so calm no matter what is going on around him. He is such a calming influence on the game. He is aggressive with his positioning and he plays the puck and passes it better than most D men. That’s what jumped out and still continues to impress me.”

This year, he has been a calming presence in net for a Generals team looking to go on a run late in the season to earn a playoff spot in their division. Erikson may have set the team on the right path in that regard, as he used a timeout as a reset when the team was trailing the Johnstown Tomahawks 4-1. The team quickly scored two goals to get back in the game, and then Tertyshny scored the next two to give the Generals two badly needed points. Haas played his best, and did not concede another goal, putting up 26 saves on the day, and the Generals won 5-4.

As to the pressure of being in net, well, Haas thrives on it. He enjoys the mental challenge of being in net all game, and sees the game pretty well. His ability to stay calm in net, combined with his positioning are two things that stand out when watching him. One reason he can also handle the puck so well is because of his background. He did not play goalie full time until he was 12, and he attributes his puck handling prowess to that consistent development.

One adjustment Haas has made this year is to North American rinks. Since coming over to the NAHL, he has gotten used to increasing workloads (the width on North American rinks is 15 feet shorter than rinks in Europe, leading to faster paced, higher shot total games) and facing high shot volumes. In a way, he embodies Eric Lang’s quote on preparing for the Atlantic Hockey Tournament after a 49 day pause in between games, “pressure is privilege.”

He has another year to lead the Generals, regardless of how this year finished, and given that they will have at least two high impact players coming from the National Champion (Premier and Elite) Charlotte Rush program in the USPHL, combined with Haas in net, and a developing group around him, next year in Attleboro Massachusetts for Hugo presents an opportunity for him to finish his junior hockey career as a part of a veteran team looking to improve from whatever this year’s result is.

For this year, Haas will finish playing with one of his best friends, looking to help the Generals go on a late run to the playoffs, in two years, 94.6 miles away from Attleboro the two will be together again, playing Division One College Hockey on their path to earn a degree, and further hone their skills together for a staff with similar values to the ones Erikson and his staff preach and practice.

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AIC works to earn 2-1 AHA semifinal victory: Eric Lang on the game and what comes next

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

This afternoon, the Yellow Jackets of American International College had to work incredibly hard for every bit of positive momentum against the upstart Purple Eagles of Niagara. Chad Veltri made 33 saves on 35 shots faced, and the Purple Eagles lead for the majority of the game, despite coming up short to an AIC team that last played on January 30. Head Coach Eric Lang expected a tough game from an underrated opponent, and his group got that for 60 minutes. The pressure was evident, but Lang knew that going in to this semifinal

He said to us before that, “pressure is privilege” , and the Purple Eagles applied plenty of it today. Despite having the majority of things go right for them, his team still had to find two goals in the third period in order to move on to the Atlantic Hockey Final.

With that said, the mesage to the team throughout the time where they were trailing was pretty simple according to Lang. As he said the message was “stay with it, stay with it, stay with it…don’t get impatient and no individual play, [and focus on the] collective whole.”

On the night, Lang was pleased with the attention to detail his team had, as he said “we possessed the puck all night and that’s how we need to play, our attention to detail was beautiful.” That attention to detail is needed as Lang’s group will face off against an opportunistic Canisius group that plays with a consistently high motor.

The experience today against the Purple Eagles was tough, as Lang said, ” they are really tough, well coached, [have] terrific goaltending and they can really skate. They made us uncomfortable with how tenacious they play. They block shots and backcheck hard.” That description, after seeing Canisius more than a few times this year, applies to the Golden Griffins as well.

The goals by Elijah Barriga and Justin Cole came in the third period on hard work and products of cycles and long zone times. AIC had a lot of shifts with similar characteristics to that today, across all 60 minutes. To win the Conference Tournament tomorrow, they will have to have more of the same, and minimize turnovers. Their opponents won in overtime because they made an opportunistic play on a pass out of Army’s own end, and created time and space for a clean look. Minimizing those looks and being able to keep working will be needed.

The other thing that Lang will have is a good perspective on Canisius despite never having played them this year. He credits his Volunteer Hockey Operations Director Mike Finnegan for having his team constantly ready to go. (interview conducted before Canisius won the second semifinal) Lang said “our work on our opponent is already done. Now it be confirming what we see on both teams. We have the best hockey ops guy in the country. He does all the heavy lifting for our program. He’s the only guy I know that can consolidate an entire season of our opponent. You can’t outwork him and he’s always one step ahead of our coaching staff.”

The Yellow Jackets still face pressure and no assurances of an at large bid going into the Championship game. Lang is ready for the challenge. As he said before, and we would posit that the same applies here, “pressure is privilege.”

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Army Hockey prepares for Canisius: Things to watch

Photo Credit: Army West Point Athletics

The Hockey Team for Army West Point is ready to face the Golden Griffins of a determined Canisius side lead by Trevor Large. In the Atlantic Hockey Association semifinals tomorrow, 75 percent of its coaches are either Riley, or a coached by one of his former assistants, Trevor Large at Canisius, and Eric Lang at AIC. While Riley and his staff have done a lot of pre-scout work on Large’s group to pick up on tendencies, the main focus of this week for him in practice has been on continual development and refining the smaller details needed to For Riley’s group this week, despite playing a group that has a lot of skill, all around the ice, especially in their forward group, as Riley said , on what stands out with their skill level, ” I think their skill level… their forwards, the plays they can make off the rush, the great goaltending.”

Riley said that ” they have everything” and knows his group will be facing one of the faster teams in this conference that has been playing well since returning from their pandemic-caused shutdowns. The standout forward to watch from the Golden Griffins is Keaton Mastrodonato. He is one of the better forwards at scoring shorthanded in the country based on his rookie season (tied for the lead in the nation with three last year), and is often the faster player on the ice. As Riley said of what he can do killing penalties, “you’ve got to be going in first gear the whole time… or otherwise he can make you pay.”

Given that, and the fact that his group will be facing a goaltender with similar traits to Trevin Kozlowski in Jacob Barczewski, the Black Knights will be facing a team with every ability to end well before any Black Knight wants it to end. Because Riley has not played Large’s group all year given the unbalanced schedule of the Atlantic Hockey Pod system put in place, he views is as an opportunity saying “it allows you to focus on your team.. that’s what we’ve done all year.”

As for Riley himself, today he was given the Atlantic Hockey Award for Coach of the Year in the Eastern Pod, but he views it as anything but his award. He stressed that it was a team award, going so far as to say “that’s a team and a staff award.. im so lucky to be surrounded by a great team and staff.. I’m sharing that with everybody.” He went on to add, “I haven’t won any games.. ive probably lost a couple of games”, and then went on to describe in as humble a manner as possible of how he tries to not let himself get in the way of his players, saying “I just try to stay out of their way.”

That level of humility is common amongst those in this program. With that said, everyone knows they have a challenge coming up with Canisius, but with that challenge comes an acknowledgment of the impact Brian Riley has had on Atlantic Hockey beyond his own school. Two of the programs in this semifinal have former Riley assistants at the helm with Eric Lang at AIC, and Large at Canisius. Riley went on to say “its pretty exciting for me where two of the other three coaches are coaches that i had the opportunity to coach with.”

As to the week, after the group got back on the ice, Riley senses the focus from his group. He said ” this is one of those weeks where you don’t have to say anything.” The seniors in this group know the value of each game, Riley knows what the weekend could be, but he is focusing on the moment and the mountain of a challenge Large’s team presents him. Of what Army will do, regardless of score, Riley said “we’ll just keep battling.” His team has played from a variety of points, down one or two, and up by the same, and as cliched as this may be, it has some truth to it. Riley knows his team has to be the ones controlling the pace to how they like it, and forcing their opponent to read and react as needed to make the play.

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AIC is thankful for Julius Janhonen: Read why

Photo credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

Julius Janhonen was not on track to play hockey for Head Coach Eric Lang’s American International College Yellow Jackets Ice Hockey team this year until late in the recruiting process. He did not reach out to Lang or his staff, but rather his advisor reached out to Lang. His advisor, according to Lang, said to offer him a scholarship, and that Lang should, “just take him and thank me later.” In his first season, through 13 games played, he has eight points (three goals and five assists) and is plus six. Janhonen has earned his ice as a player who exudes confidence, has a high vision, and shown an immediate ability to speed up his game on North American ice.

Of his transition from the Finnish game (Janhonen is an Espoo, Finland native) to the North American game, Lang said ” it took him about a week to adjust, his adjustment and acclamation to the u is as good as I’ve ever seen, and after seven days we knew we had a special player.” Lang said of Janhonen’s advisor, given the year that Julius has had and what he brings to the group “I’ve been thanking him ever sense.” Janhonen heard about the pedigree of the program when the staff reached out to him, and committed pretty fast, without a single on campus visit. As Julius put it, “I said yes right away.”

Janhonen also has a pretty unique experience from his time in Finland. He played with potential 2022 number one overall pick in the NHL, Brad Lambert, and learned a lot from him, and his father Ross. Spending time with both of them helped Julius to refine his stick handling skills and skating speed. Julius and Brad are friends, and Julius is appreciative of what he learned playing with Lambert in Finland. Julius wants to develop into an Alexander Barkov-like player capable of providing a large amount of offense for the group, while being responsible in his own end.

This year has been immeasurably helpful to Julius. He called Eric Lang, for many reasons ” the best coach I’ve ever had.” Of the group he plays with, he relishes the daily competition. For instance, he notes that all four goalies have a healthy competition with the skaters in practice every day. He said, “they’re so smart and competitive and they want to get better every day.” Of the group he plays with, he enjoys the competition for ice time, and how deep the team he plays for is. He said that on any given night, “any line could be in our lineup.”

Finally, Julius singled out senior Chris Dodero for his mentorship and for helping him improve defensively. Team defense, especially amongst its forwards is a hallmark of AIC Hockey under Eric Lang’s leadership and Dodero has mentored Janohnen in that way. Of all of the leadership amongst the Yellow Jackets Janhonen, simply said” when I’m a senior I want to be like them.”

For now, with his team set to play an opportunistic, and battle-tested Niagara team this Friday, AIC as a team has a lot of reasons to be thankful, one of them is for the strong start of a player that, before practice started, Eric Lang did not have a chance to see in person.

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