Josh Koerner made the jump from Montgomery, N.Y. to Estero, Fla. at the start of the 2011-12 season to help in the development of the new Florida Junior Blades’ franchise.
Last summer, Koerner stayed in Florida to continue developing his own career.
“One of the things he needed to do was continue to add strength to his game,” Junior Blades coach Tad O’Had said. “We got him in touch with a sports nutritionist and he continued to train, not only off the ice and on the ice, but he put on an extra 15 pounds of muscle of the summer.
“And it has continued to pay off.”
Koerner, the team leader as captain of the Blades, is the Empire Junior Hockey League leader in goals (45), points (71) and game-winning goals (nine). He helped Southern Conference champion Florida finish the regular season with 12 straight wins, seven of them by shutout, for a league-best 34-6-0-0 record.
The off-season commitment has carried over through the season.
“Josh, on the ice and off the ice, has been everything we look for in a captain,” O’Had said. “He conducts himself with great character. He leads by example.
“He’s in the weight room daily.”
O’Had describes Koerner as clearly being the fastest player in the Empire League, but the 5-foot-9, 19-year-old acknowledged the need for something more in a story on the team website.
“I’m known for my speed,” said Koerner, who recently committed to play NCAA Division III hockey back in New York State at SUNY Plattsburgh. “It’s been my thing since I was a little kid, but I wanted to gain strength and work on my hands this summer.
“My shot has definitely gotten better by stickhandling at Athletic Republic, and I’ve put on some size.”
Koerner helped make the Junior Blades an immediate success.
The team began in the Metropolitan League, then it moved to the Empire League after one season. It proceeded to the USA Hockey Junior nationals in each of its first two seasons.
Koerner is one of four players who have combined to play with the team throughout, helping the Junior Blades to a combined 111-19-5 record in regular-season and playoff league games and USA Hockey national championship games.
“He’s one of the original guys,” O’Had said. “All four guys made the All-Star game.”
The other three — hometown players Troy Degler and Chaise Howard and Franklin Lakes, N.J. resident Daniel Thompson — are all 1995 birth year players. They join Koerner as the team’s top four scorers.
Degler leads the team with 39 assists and is second with 51 points. Howard is second in goals (25) and third in points (43).
Koerner has led he group. His Empire League All-Star selection is his second straight and follows up a selection as Metropolitan Rookie of Year.
“They have done nothing but have success,” O’Had said of the four original players.
Koerner made sure that extended through the end of the regular season. With the team being carried by its stingy defense, he provided the game-winning goals in three of the final five games.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
March 27, 2017 | When USA Hockey implemented its American Development Model in 2009, one element of the nationwide age-appropriate training blueprint sparked more debate than any other: cross-ice hockey for 8U players. In the years since, an abundance of evidence, both data-driven and anecdotal, has proven the developmental advantages of cross-ice hockey.
This week, Hockey Canada announced that it too will introduce its players to the game through cross-ice play beginning in 2017-18.
“Re-sizing the playing surface to cross-ice or half-ice means more puck touches, which result in more chances to practice puck control and shooting, as well as overall more movement and motor skill-development – twisting, turning, balance, coordination, agility,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada, in a release today. “Their field-of-play matches their size, and these players hone in on their skill-development in a way that larger ice surfaces just aren’t conducive to.”
The Grassroots Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 weighed in on the decision. Click the audio link below to hear how Canada is embracing cross-ice hockey for the coming season and beyond.
Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, appeared on the Grassroots Show to discuss the nationwide shift to cross-ice hockey, beginning this fall for 5- and 6-year-olds and expanding to all of Canada's Novice (8U) level in 2018-19.
“When you see 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 kids out on the ice in between periods and they’re playing 200-by-85 and 3 or 4 kids touch the puck in that whole six minutes, yet there’s people in the stands clapping and thinking it’s wonderful, I just can’t help but think about the 95 percent of the children that didn’t even touch the puck or get from one end of the rink to the other and I ask myself what are we doing when the opportunity is certainly there to have 30 kids on the ice playing cross-ice and everyone is having a much better opportunity to touch the puck, skate a shorter distance and really play. It just boggles my mind,” said Renney.
“We completely embrace, at the Initiation level and the Novice level, cross-ice hockey and we have mandated that in the Initiation program and we will mandate it across the country in Novice hockey.
“This is about the pure enjoyment of the game, and your first connection with it has to be something that’s pure fun, on a surface of play that is conducive to much more participation and joy.”
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