By Steve Stein
Forwards and linemates Kyle Jeffers and Gavin Gulach are stars on the New Jersey Junior Titans 18U team that is making waves in the North American Prospects Hockey League and Atlantic Youth Hockey League.
Each recently accepted a tender offer from a North American Hockey League team. That means the team owns their NAHL rights for the rest of this season and next season. They can’t be drafted or signed by another NAHL team.
Neither will have to go far to move up the junior hockey ladder. Each has a tender with the Junior Titans’ NAHL team.
“It’s important to protect our assets and show a commitment to our players. We don’t want to lose them,” said George Haviland, who coaches the Junior Titans 18U team and is hockey director for the Junior Titans organization.
Jeffers, of Old Bridge, N.J., has already had a taste of NAHL hockey.
He dressed for the Junior Titans’ Nov. 25 road game against the Northeast Generals at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Mass., and scored an empty-net goal at 19:19 of the third period in the Junior Titans’ 8-6 win.
“I enjoyed playing in the game. It was a great experience,” Jeffers said. “The guys on my team were very welcoming. The game is faster in the NAHL than I’m used to, and the players are bigger. Everyone finishes checks and is tenacious. The players are intense and so is the crowd.”
Jeffers said he’ll continue to practice with the NAHL team when his busy schedule allows it. He’s also playing this season as a senior at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J.
“The more I practice with [the NAHL team], the better chance I’ll have for call-ups,” he said. “Even if I don’t play, the practice time will show me what I need to do to become a full-time member of the team next year.”
This is Jeffers’ second season in the Junior Titans organization. He played on the 16U premier team last year.
Jeffers was one of three Junior Titans 18U premier team players selected to compete in the NAPHL 18U All-Star Game, which was played Dec. 4 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn. He was joined on Team Dixon by Gulach, of Red Bank, N.J., and Titans defenseman Jovan Zimmerman, of Boulder, Colo.
Three players from the Junior Titans’ 16U team competed in the NAPHL 16U All-Star Game, also played Dec. 4 in Blaine.
Forwards Nick Lidondici from Matawan, N.J., and Alex Konovalov from Basking Ridge, N.J., and defenseman Shane Miller from Succasunna, N.J., were on Team Suter.
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