The Atlanta Jr. Knights already had a strong defensive corps coming back, but you can never be too strong or too stingy in hockey.
By Joshua Boyd
The Knights took the next step in the building of their 2017-18 team, their first in the USPHL Premier Division, by signing junior hockey veteran Aaron Szalankiewicz.
“He’s coming over [from the former USP3 Division’s Richmond Generals], and he’s going to be a really good player,” said head coach Kevin St. Jacques, of the ’99 blueliner. “He obviously has size [6-feet-3-inches, 225 pounds] and a great shot. He sees the ice really well. Aaron has some things to work on, such as moving his feet, but he really has brains. Getting schools to look at him, and getting him to a school, that’ll be an easy fit for us.”
Returning blueliners Josh Weakland, Cole Uzzell and Marc Baron join Cullen Rush (coming up from last year’s USP3 team) in forming that strong “D” core that Szalankiewicz is joining.
Barrett Rosser is one goalie who is helping to fill an essentially empty position after the Knights weren’t planning on returning any players to that spot. Rosser is a ’98 who joins from the Phoenix, Ariz., area and has previously played for the Junior Coyotes 18U AA program. He played in the Tier-2 Junior Nationals in 2016 with the Junior Coyotes.
Up front, Dominic Knap is coming back, and the Knights hope he comes storming back after a successful season of 41 points in 37 games.
A group of returning forwards join Knap to give the Knights an immediate boost. These players are Noah Madey, Dominic Yamarino, Evan Schieber and John Testino.
The Knights have signed some older players to help guide younger players who may sign down the road after higher-level junior tryouts filter out.
Scotty Miller is coming in after a season with the Eastern Kentucky University’s American College Hockey Association team.
“He will add some character to our team, and he’s a good solid, two-way player,” said St. Jacques.
One younger player signed is Jimmy Dravage, a 2000-born player from Pennsylvania. He brings promise from his time last year in the NA3AHL.
“The Premier team should perform very well. My younger team [playing in 2017-18 in the USPHL Elite Division] will have some guys returning, but that will feature more new guys,” said St. Jacques.
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