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

Atlanta Jr. Knights: Coach’s message to players – ‘Keep your head!’

If numbers can sometimes tell a story, there were five Atlanta Jr. Knights players with more than 20 penalty minutes thus far – after just six games.

By Joshua Boyd

It was a serious issue that Knights head coach Kevin St. Jacques was working hard to correct, as his team started out 1-5 in its first USPHL Premier season.

“We have to get our [stuff] together and stay out of the penalty box,” said St. Jacques, prior to his team’s first win of the season on Sept. 23 against Potomac, part of a split weekend with the Patriots. “We started 0-4 because we had taken bad penalties. When you’re in the box eight, nine times a night, you put a lot of pressure on your goalies and on your penalty kill.”

A big difference in the two games against Potomac? The game they won saw the Knights put up 10 penalty minutes on five penalties. The game the Knights lost 6-3 saw Atlanta post 51 minutes on 11 infractions.

When the Knights keep their heads, said St. Jacques, they can skate with anyone. Their first two games saw 3-2 and 1-0 losses to the perennially strong Hampton Roads Whalers, but they’ve shown the wheels can come off if there’s a parade to the penalty box.

Goalies Barrett Rosser (’98) and Dominik Vollenweider (’99) were credited for their stand-up play early on. They played exactly 180 minutes apiece between the first six games. Brendan Culbertson, the ’99 goalie for the USPHL Elite Knights, was also praised by St. Jacques. His .913 save percentage in his first 160 minutes helped that younger team go 3-3.

Up front, third-year Knight and Georgia native Joey Onarato (’98) clicked at a goal-per-game pace after six games. Along with his six goals, he also had two assists for eight points. He scored in all but Game 2 of the first six games.

Drew King, a returning ’97 Knight, was leading the team in points overall with nine through six games.

The Knights signed new defenseman Sven Prinz, a ’97 from Germany who St. Jacques started out on the Elite team. Prinz had two goals in his first two games.

“He’s a big defenseman [6-feet-4-inches, 205 pounds] and I want to get him some minutes with the Elite team, but he will be a USPHL Premier defenseman,” added St. Jacques. “He has played in Canada the last two years, so he’s accustomed to the physicality and the speed of the games.”

Like Vollenweider, Prinz skated at the Banff Hockey Academy in Alberta last year. St. Jacques is able to utilize his hockey network to sign such players from far away.

The Knights are still seeking players. Contact Kevin St. Jacques at 804-335-5070 and kevinstjacques@yahoo.com.

 

Read past Atlanta Jr. Knights articles in our archives:

USPHL Premier squad adds Szalankiewicz to experienced ‘D’ corps

Florida Showcase a good ‘mental game’ test