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    USPHL Advancement To Tier I Hockey Extends Beyond Players

    It was no problem for the Rockets Hockey Club to find their newest NCDC Head Coach. Once former coach Jason Kersner was hired as the new Head Coach and General Manager by the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, they only had to look at the same family for the man tapped to replace him. Jared Kersner was announced late last week as the new NCDC Head Coach. 

    See The Full Dan K Show Video Interview Here: 

     

    After all, USPHL advancement is not just limited to players - coaches move up to higher levels as well! 

    The fraternal connection will not only benefit family gatherings, but will greatly benefit players from both organizations as well as the organizations themselves as both teams work to develop players to move them to the highest level of college hockey while also garnering NHL scout attention. Jason Kersner has vowed to help NCDC players - not just the Rockets' - move up to Tier I hockey. 

    “Now being with the Musketeers, I know where we can find good players. And it’s not just with the Rockets, but the Jersey Hitmen have good players, the Junior Bruins have good players,” said Jason Kersner. “Every team in the NCDC has players who can play in the USHL.” 

    While Kersner is going to be pushing for the Musketeers to repeat as Clark Cup Champions after recently winning the USHL title, he knows his younger brother will be pushing for the Dineen Cup in New Jersey. Jared moves into the position after nearly 10 years of co-ownership of the Skipjacks Hockey Club with Jason and serving as Head Coach of their 18U and 16U teams over the many seasons.

    “I’m definitely excited,” added Jared, of the new challenge of picking up on the rise in development and on-ice success started by Jason in 2020-21. “I’ve been a part of [the Rockets] the last couple years. We just ran his main camp the week before last, and I was involved with the players and former Skipjacks and players we’ve coached throughout the summer. So I knew a lot of the guys and had some connection with them.

    "Jason built the team most of the summer, but I had my fingers in it. I’m excited to get to know them a little bit more and I’m just trying to stay above water with this transition. We are a little bit fortunate we are right next to each other and can hand it off.” 

    The upward mobility for the Kersner brothers began when one of their coaching mentors, former Musketeers Head Coach Luke Strand, was named an Assistant Coach for The Ohio State University, an NCAA Division I team. That cleared the way for Sioux City management to look east and see that Jason Kersner, in his first year with the Rockets - and amidst a worldwide pandemic - had lifted the team to 35 wins, more than the prior two seasons combined.

    And to boot, he led the team to the 2021 NCDC Clark Cup Championship Game.

    Additionally, the 2020-21 Rockets NCDC team saw an NHL Draft Pick in Sam Lipkin, who shone brightly during the Hub City Tampa six-week series in January and February. He doesn’t have to rebuild so much with Sioux City, though they will have to reload after the Clark Cup victory. 

    “I’m excited to be a part of the Musketeers. It is a program I’ve been kind of connected with for a long time. I’m very close with ownership and the coaching staff that’s here to get the opportunity to follow one of my coaching mentors and good friends, Luke Strand, who’s one of the all-time best,” said Jason. “Big shoes to fill, but I’m excited to be part of the program.

    “We’ve obviously had a little success, with winning games and player advancement,” he added, when asked by Dan K how it all happened that he signed on with Sioux City. “I’ve worked a lot with Jared. We started the Skipjacks Hockey Club in 2013, and he and I have coached together for a long time. Alex Doyle and Patrick Jarrett, plenty of the other guys have been around us. Obviously the players get it done, so when you’re around good players and good people, good things happen.”

    One of Jared’s earlier coaches in his career was Jason himself. Jared has been able to look up to his brother who is three years his senior, and while they’ve been partners in the Skipjacks ownership, he’s also excited that they can share this moment of advancement together, as Jared moves up from coaching (most recently) the 18U Skipjacks squad to the NCDC level. 

    “Jared started coaching me when he was 18 and I was 15. He’s opened a lot of doors and taught me a lot about the game,” said Jared. “He’s just continuing to move up and I’m happy that I’m going with him.” 

    Both brothers will work to develop the Tier I-ready talent that has come out of the Rockets over the last few years. 

    “Helping them to get to NCAA Division I is a big part of it, but trying to help them get to the USHL is a big part of it, too,” said Jason. “Sam Lipkin was our best USHL connection. He comes back to us in the NCDC, plays 20 games with us, has a great run, gets his confidence back, goes back to Chicago, finishes the season, wins a championship, gets his NHL Draft pick. Goes back there, part of the leadership group, and has another amazing season on his way to Quinnipiac.” 

    He also noted other players from this past season’s team who will move up to Tier I - Evan Brown will play at Dubuque and Kevin Fitzgerald will play at Omaha. The pipeline certainly will not end there. 

    The Rockets Hockey Club and Sioux City Musketeers are now both in a very good place with the Kersner family connection and a legacy of success to continue to build upon. The USPHL congratulates both brothers on their advancements. 

    Ireland Is Only Player To Have Played At Least One Game In All Five NCDC Seasons

    The Boston Junior Bruins’ Frank Ireland is certainly excited to be getting ready for his NCAA Division I college hockey career to begin. He’s happy to be pushing on to the inaugural season of the new D-I program at Stonehill College in North Easton, Mass., for four years. A four-year NCAA career, if that’s where his future takes him, would be just one season short of his tenure in the National Collegiate Development Conference. 

    When Ireland, a native of Longmeadow, Mass., first played an NCDC game as a call-up in 2017-18, it began a thread that saw him become the only NCDC player to skate in all five years of the league, and thus, the only 2021-22 NCDC player to have also skated in that inaugural 2017-18 season of the Tier II Tuition-Free Conference. Ireland split his most recent season between two Tier II destinations, but the latter was with his longtime team for 11 regular season games and their playoff run that saw a drive to the Dineen Cup Finals. It all paid off, as he prepares for the goal of essentially all junior hockey players - a D-I career ahead. 

    “I’ve talked to Stonehill for a little while now and eventually it became the right fit for me. The Coach [David Borges] likes how hard I play, and the fact that I can make plays,” said Ireland, who racked up 113 points in 143 regular season games, good for ninth all-time in the NCDC. He is sixth in all-time games played. So, a likely business major at Stonehill is no surprise for a guy who was always all business on the ice all the time. 

    “Stonehill is a very good school academically. If you end up there, the success in people finding jobs in their career is high,” Ireland added. “The connections and people you meet is another thing that I’m excited for. The hockey team I know is rebuilding and working to earn a spot as a Division I team, and the cool thing is I can go in there and be a part of Stonehill hockey history of the first years of Division I.” 

    Ireland will be one of 20 former Junior Bruins NCDC players who will begin their NCAA Division I careers in 2022-23, a fantastic track record even looking at that snapshot view.  

    “I think the Boston Junior Bruins is an outstanding organization. They treat players like they are pros, and are so resourceful. They have a great staff who have all played either pros or top Division I hockey,” said Ireland. “Looking back to my first year of NCDC, it was an adjustment coming from 16U and a learning period, and every year I got better and better through the help of the coaches. They’re great at moving guys on to play at the next level and I was happy to be able to be a part of their family. 

    “I think it’s a solid league,” said the NCDC’s foremost authority on the player side. “I think having that COVID year in Florida was big for it. Having all the big names come and play on an NCDC team helped broaden the league’s name. I think it’s a good league for young players to develop.”

    It was during the 2020-21 season - one in which the Junior Bruins entered as defending Dineen Cup Champions from 2019 - that Ireland had his best NCDC season, registering 48 points in 42 games and wearing the “C.” He helped the team to the Dineen Cup semifinals ahead of this year’s return trip to the Cup Finals. 

    The Junior Bruins brought Ireland in at the 16U level, and he was immediately effective. From 2016-18 at the 16U level, he posted 90 points 52 regular season games, good for sixth overall - giving Ireland Top 10 scoring honors in not one but two NCDC leagues! 

    “It was a fun process. I still talk to a bunch of people that played 16U with me. I think most of my development comes from the players I played with and being able to watch what they do and learn what works and what doesn’t was a good learning curve,” added Ireland. “I think skipping 18U [except for five games] and going from 16U to NCDC right away and playing was difficult, but as year went on, I adjusted to it.”

    And he has truly seen the benefits of “trusting the process” with the Junior Bruins over the years. He remembers how he was as a 16U player getting that 2017-18 call-up and can see the progression to his final NCDC game at the Cup Finals in New Jersey. 

    “I think my game now is so much better,” he said. “I don’t typically just throw the puck away. I feel like I have a third eye out there because the game has just slowed down for me a lot, so it’s easier to make plays.”

    That is just the type of player that Stonehill is getting, and he’s making sure the Skyhawks get him at his sharpest.  

    “I think little details will help a lot like having a good stick at all times,” added Ireland. “I think continuously practicing protecting the puck will be big as well, and being able to be comfortable on the forehand and backhand is a difference as well.”

    He won’t be too far from home, all within Massachusetts, but he’s already feeling at home with Stonehill.

    “I’ve been to the school a couple times and, to start off, the campus is beautiful. It’s in a great location as well. The facilities are top notch so I’m excited to be a student there,” said Ireland. “I think Stonehill was just the right fit and the right opportunity for me to be successful.”

    The USPHL congratulates Frank Ireland, his family, the Boston Junior Bruins and Stonehill College for his commitment.

    Q&A: Former Jersey Hitmen Goalie Chase Clark Wows At Washington Capitals Camp

    By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 07/28/2022, 4:15pm EDT

    Earlier this month, former NCDC Jersey Hitmen goaltender and Dineen Cup Champion Chase Clark made the trip to the Washington Capitals (NHL) Development Camp to give his professional rights-holders a glimpse of the future. 

    And what a glimpse it was. The 2002-born Williamsville, N.Y., native earned applause from several corners by making highlight saves in the scrimmages - and he hasn’t even played a single NCAA Division I game yet. Along with playing the full 2020-21 season with the Hitmen, riding it all the way to the championship, he has since been a top goaltender in the United States Hockey League, preparing for the start of his college hockey career with Quinnipiac University this season. But he served notice that he is definitely pushing to someday join the team that drafted him 183rd overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.​​

    A few examples of the attention Chase Clark received: ​​

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    And now, a few words with the man himself. 

    USPHL: Was this your first Development Camp, or did you get to go in 2021 as well?

    Clark: After being drafted in the 2021 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals, the organization informed me they were not having a developmental camp that year due to COVID.

     

    What did you think of the way the camp was organized, and the players you played alongside? That is, how do you see the Capitals future in terms of the prospects you played with and against?

    First the Capitals did an amazing job organizing the camp. It was a first class and fun experience. I had a great time getting to know all the other prospects. They have unbelievable skills and [are] all really good character guys. I learned a lot on and off the ice, from goalie coaches Scott Murry and Olaf Kolzig.

     

    What were the toughest challenges for you at the Camp?

    The demands of the tight schedule. They had us busy from early morning through the evening. I believe it gave me a taste of what professional players have to deal with.

     

    What were the parts of the Camp where you felt you excelled?

    The highlight of my camp was the main scrimmage at the end of camp. It was held at Capital One Arena in front of fans. I felt good and had a great game.

     

    What are you working on in your game this summer towards kicking off your NCAA career with Quinnipiac?

    I am currently working on off-ice training to become stronger and faster. On ice, I’m working with personal goalie coaches home in Buffalo. The same coaches I’ve had for years.

    Michigan Native Also Played In USPHL Premier With MJDP In 2019-20

    It was love at first sight for former Northern Cyclones NCDC goaltender Kristoffer Eberly when he visited the campus of The Ohio State University. 

    “Once I stepped foot on the campus, I knew it was the school for me. The facilities there were amazing,” said Eberly, whose commitment to OSU for 2023-24 was announced by the Cyclones on Monday, July 25. “With the opportunity they give, you’d really have to personally fail to not do well there. It is impossible for me to go there and not get better both as a hockey player and as a student. I think they heard about my work ethic, as a guy who likes to go early to the rink and dial in and really take each day one step and get better each day. I think I’m a competitor and the Ohio State coaches see that as well. 

    With everything the Cyclones have to offer, they have every kind of tool in the toolbox to help grow your game.

    “Academically, you can go anywhere with an OSU degree. It’s just huge and something big for your career,” said Eberly, who wants to major in a field involving math. “If [professional] hockey doesn’t work out, you have that as well.” 

    Eberly is coming off an All-Star campaign for the Cyclones which saw him play in 36 games. He was top five in that category, as well as in wins (15) and save percentage (.924). He was able to earn a call-up after the NCDC season ended to play with the USHL’s Sioux City and is now preparing for the 2022-23 season with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. 

    Similar in principle to what he saw at the college level at Ohio State, he said the Northern Cyclones also provide every tool possible at the Tier II junior level to succeed - it’s up to the athlete to take advantage. 

    “With everything the Cyclones have to offer, they have every kind of tool in the toolbox to help grow your game. I had all the support of all the coaches helping me become better as a player and as a person,” said Eberly. “I wouldn’t be the player I am today on and off the ice without the Cyclones.

    “The NCDC was definitely a good league for development, especially with all those colleges right in your backyard,” he added. “I just think the Cyclones are a super-great organization.” 

    The Cyclones thought very highly of their clear-cut No. 1 goalie during the 2021-22 season. 

    “One of the most dedicated, hard-working players that I have coached,” tweeted Cyclones NCDC Head Coach Bill Flanagan on Monday. “Everyday in [the] weight room, last off the ice, never saw negativity in his eyes!”

    With that, they never had a problem with sending Eberly into a game, as he ended up playing 72 percent of the team’s contests this year. 

    “By playing as much as I did, I think I was able to learn how to take good care of my body, and the right foods to eat,” said Eberly. “It helped me learn more about that and to just get better given the opportunity to play that much.” 

    Eberly's USPHL Development path also took him through the 2019-20 season with the Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP), where he played 14 games. The local product from Pinckney, Mich., had played at Dexter High School before joining the MJDP and posting a .925 save percentage that year. 

    Sioux City coaches saw him put up a fantastic performance in the All-Star Game in February, where he turned away all 10 shots that he saw in his period of play, one of two goalies to do so (St. Lawrence commit Cam Smith being the other). 

    “Definitely from my playing time with the Cyclones and from the All-Star Game, that’s where I caught Sioux City’s attention,” said Eberly. “It went well. It was definitely a clear jump - as a goalie, it definitely took time to learn how to play at the Tier 1 pace. It just definitely helps me a lot learning from the other goalies on my team, and I settled in there as well. I’m excited for the future here [in Green Bay], and still have a lot to prove, and to prove to myself.” 

    The USPHL congratulates Kristoffer Eberly, his family, the Northern Cyclones and The Ohio State University for his commitment. 

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