USPHL Alum Kasel's Career Comes Full Circle To AHL's Utica Comets

By Michael Lehr / Utica Jr. Comets 10/06/2021, 9:15am EDT

For goaltender Brandon Kasel, walking into the Adirondack Bank Center was a reminder of his younger days playing high school hockey, battling it out for the State Championship.

Brandon is just one example of someone who climbed the ladder of youth hockey in the Mohawk Valley and made it to its biggest stage. Now, in the American Hockey League camp for the Utica Comets, the level of hockey has taken a big leap since his younger days as a kid growing up in Ithaca, New York. For Brandon, this experience is almost surreal. 

“Honesty, it’s incredible. Since I got here, it’s been a dream. I wasn’t expecting this opportunity and it came up. I played in this rink a few times growing up. Being here at this level is just amazing. Growing up in Syracuse I had great memories playing at the Aud. I played a little bit of high school hockey in the State Championships here. That was a good memory going to the State finals. It’s always been an incredible experience here.”

Brandon is a kid who knows all about the area of Utica and after the merger of the Syracuse Stars junior program two seasons ago. The Stars program started in 1985 and includes former NHL goaltender and President of the Utica Comets, Robert Esche as an alumnus.

Brandon played USPHL Midgets in 2014-2015 and one year of USPHL Premier (at the time the forerunner of today's NCDC) for the Stars in 2015-2016. He truly climbed the ladder within the organization from youth hockey to the pros.

All of the Stars alumni are now part of the Utica Jr. Comets program which encompasses the Midget, Premier and NCDC teams.

When you grow up in hockey and begin your professional journey, usually you must leave family far behind. But for Brandon, his family is a quick drive away.

“I love having family close. I played college hockey in Saratoga. Everything kind of connects and I’m very tied to this area. So, it’s nice having that support. I grew up watching the Buffalo Sabres. Ryan Miller was one of my go-to guys,” remarked Kasel. 

Brandon hopes his career can take the same trajectory as other great American-born goalies. If it does, it will be because of his work ethic that even years later isn’t forgotten on those who watched him as an amateur.

Nicole Kelly, Vice President of Business of Development and Director of Junior Hockey remembers Brandon well.

“He was a standout goalie in the program. Extremely hard-working kid. Seeing him rise to this level is a testament to not only the program but also Brandon as a person and player,” said Kelly.

The former Syracuse Star is ready for the next step in his career, built on the foundation of great competition in the Upstate New York area. Despite missing last season, he’s thrilled with the experience thus far.

“It was definitely an adjustment. It was my first real practice in over a year. I am just getting a feel for it. So, it was an incredible experience,” said Kasel.

The Jersey Hitmen will welcome teams from the National Collegiate Development Conference, USPHL 18U, USPHL 16U and USPHL 15U Divisions to the Ice Vault in Wayne, N.J., for their annual Hitmen Classic event, part of the USPHL Showcase Series. 

The full schedule kicks off on Thursday with four NCDC games, followed by a full schedule of NCDC and Midget hockey on each of Friday and Saturday. Sunday and Monday will see a full slate of USPHL Midget games, with a slightly shorter schedule on Monday to close out the five-day event. 

Tune into all of the NCDC games on HockeyTV, where The Dan K Show, USPHL’s Official Broadcasting Team, will have the call on several contests from Thursday through Saturday. See the Hitmen Classic page as well for a full schedule of action at the Ice Vault. 

 

USPHL Premier, Elite Action Hits Ice Further Down I-287

The Hitmen Classic is being held in conjunction with a full four days of USPHL Premier and Elite league action at nearby Bridgewater Sports Arena in Bridgewater, N.J., hosted by the Rockets Hockey Club. You can find all of those games on the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite schedules.

Keep tabs on all of the USPHL social media accounts for fantastic content - photos, interviews and plenty of fun - across both locations over the course of the weekend. 

For a full list of teams in action in New Jersey this weekend, please see below: 

Boston Junior Bruins Shootout Returns To Kick Off October

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 09/30/2021, 6:45pm EDT

Beginning on Friday at New England Sports Center and continuing clean through Monday, the Boston Junior Bruins Shootout is always a great early season event on the USPHL Showcase Series calendar. 

This year’s edition, as is the tradition, features several National Collegiate Development Conference games alongside USPHL Premier league play and several USPHL 18U, 16U and 15U teams playing league games and non-league games against high-level opponents from outside the USPHL throughout the four days. 

NCDC action kicks off Saturday afternoon and runs through Monday afternoon, while the Midgets and Premier teams jump right into the schedule on Friday morning. Below are the USPHL teams participating in the 2021 BJB Shootout. Schedules for USPHL league games are available on USPHL.com. 

Tune in on HockeyTV.com as The Dan K Show has the call for select NCDC games from Saturday through Monday! 

 

NCDC 

Boston Junior Bruins

Connecticut Jr. Rangers

South Shore Kings

Jersey Hitmen

Twin City Thunder

Rockets Hockey Club

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders

 

Premier Division

Boston Junior Bruins

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs

Springfield Pics

Jersey Whalers

South Shore Kings

Boston Advantage

Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Jersey Hitmen

Twin City Thunder

Bridgewater Bandits

 

USPHL 18U

Boston Junior Bruins National

Boston Junior Bruins American

Islanders Hockey Club National

Islanders Hockey Club American

South Shore Kings National

South Shore Kings American

Northern Cyclones Academy Premier

Northern Cyclones Academy Elite

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs

CP Dynamo

Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Skipjacks Hockey Club

Maine Moose 

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders

Jersey Whalers

Rockets Hockey Club 

 

USPHL 16U

Boston Junior Bruins

Islanders Hockey Club National

Islanders Hockey Club American

Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Connecticut Jr. Rangers Red

Northern Cyclones Academy 16U Premier

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders 16U American

Potomac Patriots

Rockets Hockey Club

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs

South Shore Kings 

CP Dynamo

Jersey Whalers

Springfield Pics

 

USPHL 15U

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders

Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Springfield Pics

Islanders Hockey Club

Woodbridge Wolfpack

Northern Cyclones Academy

Tri-Town Ice Arena To Rename North Rink As Ryan Frew Memorial Rink

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 09/22/2021, 7:01pm EDT

The United States Premier Hockey League, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and Tri-Town Ice Arena are excited to join in announcing that the North rink at Hooksett, N.H.’s Tri-Town Ice Arena will be known as Ryan Frew Memorial Rink, with a naming ceremony set for Sunday, Sept. 26, at 4:40 p.m., prior to their 5:10 p.m. NCDC home opener against the Islanders Hockey Club. 

The USPHL is proud to be a part of this opportunity to celebrate the positive spirit and loving nature of the late Ryan Frew, a coach for 16 years with the Monarchs junior teams and their NCDC Head Coach for two seasons. 

In mid-September of 2020, Ryan suddenly became ill and was rushed to the hospital. On October 5, 2020, Ryan died at the age of 40 due to complications arising from peritonitis. He is survived by his wife Nanna, sons Seamus and Quentin and daughter Layla. 

Across the hockey world, all those who knew him were stopped in their tracks with grief from the passing of one of the sport’s most positive personalities, a man who had a smile for every person he met - and he left them smiling as well. Entering a quiet room full of serious hockey coaches, he could set the whole room laughing with a one-liner or a story. 

“I have been blessed to know Ryan since he was probably 7 years old skating with my sons.  He always had a big heart, positive attitude and a gift to debate on and off the ice. He has been part of the fiber of Tri-Town Ice Arena since he started working here as a Zamboni driver and janitor,” said Tri-Town Ice Arena and New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs Owner Rick Vega. “His customer service skills were second to none. When he became a Jr. Monarchs coach, he got the best out of each kid on and off the ice. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten. Love you, Ry.”

"It has been a tough year at the arena not seeing Ryan's big smile as he walks in the front door or hearing his one of a kind laugh," added Brianna Tremblaey, Manager of Tri-Town Ice Arena. "He really brought positivity and kindness everywhere he went. Though we can never replace Ryan, we can surround ourselves with memories of him which is part of the reason we wanted to dedicate our North Rink to him. He has done so much for our organization and each and every one of us during his lifetime. We will continue to honor Ryan and all the good that he brought with him."

"While I unfortunately did not get to know Ryan Frew myself, he was respected and loved by all who knew him, and his impact around the USPHL - and especially the NCDC - is still felt every day," said USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow. "The USPHL fully supports Tri-Town Ice Arena and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs in their decision to rename their North rink as the Ryan Frew Memorial Rink.”

Ryan Frew began coaching with the Jr. Monarchs two years after graduating from Southern New Hampshire University. He started in 2004 and became Head Coach of the Monarchs’ top team in 2012. With the Monarchs’ former Junior B team, he brought the Monarchs to the 2007 and 2011 USA Hockey Tier III Jr. B National Championship games. He was also on the bench as assistant when the Monarchs won three straight Tier III Jr. A National Championships between 2007 and 2009, and again in 2012. 

He coached the Monarchs to Empire Jr. Hockey League titles in 2010 and 2012, as well. He also saw his Monarchs receive a USA Hockey Team Sportsmanship Award and he was an All-Star Coach in six of his eight Empire seasons.  

Ryan led the Monarchs to the first Eastern Hockey League regular season championship in 2014, and in 2016, the Monarchs added Playoff Champions to that resume. 

In 2017, he was named among the Manchester (N.H.) Union-Leader’s “Forty Under 40,” recognizing his great service to the youth of the state of New Hampshire. That same year, the Monarchs joined the USPHL at all levels, and in 2018-19, the Monarchs became members of the NCDC, with Ryan as Head Coach. He was NCDC Coach Of The Year that season as well. 

In 2020, the USPHL renamed its NCDC Coach of The Year Award as the Ryan Frew Memorial Coach Of The Year Award. 

This past summer, the Northern Cyclones - the Monarchs’ No. 1 on-ice and in-state rival - organized and ran the Ryan Frew Memorial Golf Tournament to raise money for the Frew family, which will become an annual event in New Hampshire. 

Ryan Frew is missed every day, but seeing his name forever in the building will always remind those who knew him how much he blessed their lives with his inspiring outlook on life, forever encapsulated in this oft-used quote since his passing, from his “Forty Under 40” Profile:

 

"There is no greater reward than knowing that you have had a positive impact on someone's life journey." - Ryan Frew 

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders 15U Team Wins Division At Eastern Alliance Kickoff

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 09/06/2021, 9:00pm EDT

The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders' USPHL 15U team came up with the 15U White Division Championship at the Eastern Alliance Kickoff, held in more than a dozen rinks in Massachusetts and Rhode Island between Sept. 3-6.  

@usphl

##2021EAKickoff: ##paljrislanders ##USPHL15U team captured the Kickoff 15U White Championship.

♬ Skate - Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak & Silk Sonic

The Jr. Islanders were one of 243 teams that participated at the 13U through 18U levels spread out over 15 different groupings (Divisions). Out of these 243, 35 teams came from the USPHL 18U, 16U and 15U leagues, including the Boston Junior Bruins 18U and one of two South Shore Kings 18U teams, both of whom reached the finals in their divisions. 

The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders started their four-day run on Friday,  earning a win against the Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers Showcase team. That was followed by two wins on Saturday, including one against fellow USPHL members the Springfield Pics. 

They finished 5-0 through Sunday, and drew the North Shore Wings in the semifinal. Up 2-1, they soon found themselves down 5-3 before rallying back to tie the game and then win in the shootout to advance to the finals. 

Yet again, versus the Washington Little Capitals, they were up 1-0 but lost the lead and were forced into OT at 1-1. In OT, Peter Allen scored the overtime game-and championship-winner on a team coached by NHL alum Arron Asham. 

The South Shore Kings 18U team coached by Jon Skarlis found itself in the 18U Yellow Division final against a team with a familiar look - the South Shore Kings Split-Season 18U team from the EHF Selects division. The USPHL's full-season Kings held a 2-0 lead at the half, but the split-season squad roared back with seven second-half goals to just one from the USPHL squad. 

The Boston Junior Bruins 18U team - the reigning USPHL 18U National Champions - started with a win against the East Coast Militia, but were only able to gain a pair of ties on Saturday, including one against the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs Purple team.

An 8-7 win on Sunday afternoon against the Hitmen Hockey Club Prep team put them into the quarterfinals, where they earned a 5-0 shutout of the New England Fall Prep Hockey League 18U squad. 

On Monday, they earned a second straight shutout of 2-0 against the River Rats West team to make the championship final, where the Washington Little Capitals earned the close 4-3 win.

The USPHL thanks all of its teams for its collective high level of competition at the Eastern Alliance Kickoff, and for representing the league well throughout the entire four-day holiday weekend. Best of luck to all the teams in the remainder of the 2021-22 regular season. 

The Provo Riverblades have announced that an alum of their inaugural USPHL team from 2020-21, Jack Blake, skated recently at the Los Angeles Kings Development Camp. 

Blake, a 2001-born native of Los Angeles, Calif., played for 17 games with the Riverblades last year under former Head Coach Jaroslav Modry. Modry was a former Kings teammate of the current Kings General Manager and Jack's father, Rob Blake, who is a Hockey Hall of Fame Honoured Member. Jack Blake, a defenseman, posted three goals and 11 assists for 14 points. 

 

@usphl

NBD! Congrats to Provo Riverblades Defenseman Jack Blake on his invite to @lakings Development Camp! ##usphlcommitments ##NHL ##usphl

♬ original sound - USPHL

Blake is currently committed to Bowling Green State University, his father's alma mater, starting this fall. 

The USPHL congratulates Jack Blake on his appearance at the L.A. Kings Development Camp and wishes Jack the very best of luck in all his future endeavors.  

To kick off September - the first "hockey month" - The Dan K Show talked with USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow on their industry-leading podcast The Dan K Show Presents: Junior Hockey. 

Listen Below To Commissioner Bob Turow On The Dan K Show Presents: Junior Hockey. 

Commissioner Turow talked about being involved with communication to players. 

“It was a treat on NHL Draft Day to text the players who were drafted from our league. It was very rewarding to hear back from the players with how grateful they were to play in the league.”

He also talked about the USPHL's size and the fact it is the Nation's Largest Amateur Hockey Organization, ranging from coast to coast and from 9U to Juniors. 

”Every league has [its] little uniqueness. It's very interesting to see how all the teams are put together, and whether it be a traditional hockey area like the northeast, or a nontraditional area like Florida or in the Carolinas. Everyone goes about their business a different way, but yet at the same time we are all united under one banner.”

Tune into the USPHL Social Media Channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok every Wednesday for a weekly Commissioner's Message.