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New Yorker helps Florida Junior Blades franchise get off to a hot start

03/07/2013, 1:45pm EST
By Tom Robinson

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.

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