Northeast Generals forward Kolye Bankauskas leads the North American 3 Hockey League in scoring this season, as his scoring finesse was on display at the recent league showcase in Blaine, Minn. He led the showcase in scoring as well.
With a record total of more than 150 scouts from the National Hockey League, Divisions I and III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the North American Hockey League and many more, Bankauskas put on a show, scoring 10 points in three games.
Bankauskas, a 19-year-old from Coventry, R.I., earned Coastal Division Player of the Week honors for his efforts at the showcase. That brought his totals up to 44 goals and 41 assists in just 29 games.
With linemates Stephen Gerbis and Carson Asper joining him among the league’s top five scorers, Bankauskas has scored goals nine times short-handed, seven while on the power-play and five game-winning goals. He has produced six hat tricks this season.
“I got to play with [Gerbis and Asper] a lot last year, so we had really good chemistry coming into this year and we just started rolling from the beginning,” Bankauskas said recently in a phone interview.
The 5-foot-11, 156-pound center had a five-goal game in his fifth game of the season, right before compiling three hat tricks over five games in October.
“I’m not the biggest guy and they both do a good job working down low,” Bankauskas said of the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right wing Asper and the 6-foot left wing Gerbis.
Although his linemates take care of some of the dirty work in the corners, Bankauskas said they both are still skilled at moving the puck and shooting.
With the high-scoring line producing, the Generals are first in the Coastal Division with a 24-4-0-1 record and one point shy of first in the overall league standings. They have scored five more goals than any other squad in the wide-ranging, 34-team league.
“We have real good team speed,” said Bankauskas, who has always considered hockey his number-one sport, but said he really began to take it seriously as he moved through middle school to high school. “… We score a lot, but we also play really good team defense.”
The Generals are also adept at keeping pucks out of the net, allowing just 64 goals on the year, fewest in the Central and among the lowest totals in the NA3HL. Bankauskas’ contributions toward that success have not gone unnoticed.
Bankauskas has played in the NAHL, bringing him up to the USA Hockey Tier II league for one game last season, and for two games when his NA3HL team had a weekend off this season. Bankauskas has signed an NAHL tender with the Generals, putting him in position to potentially play with the team next year in his final season of junior hockey.
“Bank has played a few NAHL games and shows he is right there,” said Bryan Erikson, who serves as head coach of the NAHL team and general manager of both Generals teams. “We are extremely excited to watch him continue to develop in the NA3HL and with the Generals this year before making a huge impact next year with the NAHL Generals full-time.”
In the meantime, Bankauskas is focused on his rapid improvement.
“His speed is crazy, but his work ethic is also incredibly high,” NA3HL Generals head coach Darryl Locke said. “He came to us from a smaller Rhode Island school in Coventry where he had some great coaching.
“He had an adjustment to this level, but it was quick. He has simply gotten better every day.”
The results were evident at the showcase.
Bankauskas opened the showcase with a goal and assisted on two more in a 3-1 win over the South Division-leading Texas Jr. Brahmas. He had two goals and an assist in a 4-2 victory over the Granite City Lumberjacks. Bankauskas concluded the showcase with a hat trick and two assists to help the team finish unbeaten in Blaine, defeating the Bozeman Icedogs, 7-3.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.