Estero, Fla.– In their first two seasons the Florida Jr. Blades have shattered league records and set a precedent for exceptional hockey development in southwest Florida. It comes as no surprise that the graduates are finding success at higher levels.
Graduates from the inaugural season include Mike Canacarri. Canacarri played in 24 games during the 2010-2011 season. He joined the Penman of Southern New Hampshire University (Division III) for the 2011-2012 season. Joining Canacari in the NCAA Division III ranks is Mike Wilson (UMASS- Dartmouth).
Jr. Blade standout Daniel Echeverri decided to remain local and continue his training with Athletic Republic. Echeverri joined the Florida Gulf Coast University ACHA Division II squad on their quest for a national championship. He came up big for the Eagles, scoring the game-winning goal in the championship round.
Oleg Kuzmin of Perm, Russia made a splash in his first season with the Jr. Blades. He attended training camp with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades before settling in with a minor professional team in Russia- Izhstal Izhevsk.
The Jr. Blades second season yielded even more success with a 43-3-0-1 record. While many team members are returning, many deserving players have earned invitations to Tier I main camps.
- J.P. Larmoyeux- Indiana Ice (USHL)
- Joshua Koerner- Indiana Ice (USHL)
- Troy Degler- Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
- Chaise Howard- Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
- Jon Davidson- Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Several Jr. Blades were also invited to NAHL main camps including: Ty Lasker (Port Huron Falcons), Marcus Ortiz (Corpus Christi) and Blake O’Neill (Topeka Road Runners).
O’Neill is committed to the Kingston Voyageurs of the OJHL. Meanwhile Daniel Echeverri will be reunited with teammates Michael DiVico and Kristian Avellanet as they join the FGCU squad.
Jr. Blades team captain James Hyatt has accepted an invitation to join the Hartford Wolfpack (tier III AJHL), while teammates Joe Keyser and Ross Kovacs both journey north to Canada.
“I am really impressed with the Florida Junior Blades program. In terms of structure, dedication and development it’s as good as any development program I have seen on either side of the border” says Colin Birkas, head coach of the Kingston Voyaguers Jr. A (OJHL). “The players have access to a great facility, staff and instruction. It is clear that Coach O’Had’s players graduate ready for the next level, whether it be Juniors or College.”