Atlanta Junior Knights,USPHL Elite,Ralph Barahona,USA Junior Hockey

Atlanta Jr. Knights: Showcases show might of surging Premier, Elite squads

The Hampton Roads Whalers and Carolina Eagles were left looking over their shoulders as the year 2017 ended.

By Joshua Boyd 

After all, the Atlanta Jr. Knights were on fire just before the holiday break. They finished off their third showcase of the 2017-18 season with a 4-0 record and were 5-1-2 during the month of December.

“We’ve gone 12-0 in our showcases at the Premier level, and we’re 9-3 at the Elite level,” said Kevin St. Jacques, general manager and head coach of the USPHL Premier Knights. “We had a really good Florida showcase [Dec. 14-16]. We played some really good teams, but we played really well. I like where we are at, though I would like to pick up one more defenseman and one more scoring forward.”

Dominik Knap was praised for his play at the Florida showcase, which included a Dec. 15 hat trick among six goals scored in three of the weekend’s four games.

Knap is an import from the Czech Republic who recently came back from a short stint at the Elite level. St. Jacques sent Knap to the Elite level for one game as he “wasn’t playing hard at both ends of the rink like he is supposed to.”

“He wasn’t playing the way I wanted to at. I sent him to the Elite team about a month ago, he came back [angry] and used it as a wakeup call,” said St. Jacques. “Since he came back, he’s been very good, and he’s talking to schools.”

Knap is a player in whom St. Jacques has very high expectations, especially after putting him on the Knights’ top line last year. He scored 41 points with Daniel Luyten and Ivan Bukshevanny last year.

This year, Knap is leading the team in scoring while playing with John Testino and Curtis Hartman (the latter of whom joined the team in November).

“[The showcase] was good for him. He talked to a few schools,” said St. Jacques.

St. Jacques also praised the line of Evan Schieber (with 32 points, remains one point behind Knap), Zac McKenna and Brendan Ferguson.

“My defensive corps also has a lot of interest from college scouts,” said St. Jacques, referring especially to Aaron Szalankiewicz, Cole Uzzell and Marc Baron.

In goal, Brendan Bishop posted three of the Knights’ four wins at the Florida showcase.

Elite update: St. Jacques really liked the consistent play of several players in the Elite Knights’ 3-1 run at the showcase. This group included Jason Foltz, Brandon Hardeman, Luke Babilon and goalie Barrett Rosser.

Adam Hulsey, a ’98 from Bakersfield, Calif., has also proven to be a big-time scorer with 16 points in the 11 games he has played at the Elite level. He also had nine points in 20 games at the Premier level.

 

Read past Atlanta Jr. Knights articles in our archives:

Coach’s message to players – ‘Keep your head!’

USPHL Premier squad adds Szalankiewicz to experienced ‘D’ corps