It’s been a long time coming, but the Northstar Christian Academy has announced its 2020-21 U16 roster and coaches.
After two seasons as the assistant coach for the U18 Knights, Tim Jackman is taking over as head coach of the U16 team. Josh Freitas will be his assistant as well as the strength coach for both Knights teams.
The U16 group showcases 24 players from 14 states, including one United States Hockey League draft pick and four Western Hockey League selections. The USHL is an American junior league that’s seen as a middle step between high school and college. The WHL is a Major Junior league in Canada. If a player accepts a Major Junior contact they get paid to play and are no longer eligible for NCAA hockey.
Forward Luke Schelter, from Centennial, CO, was drafted to the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL and the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. A Regina Pats protected player, forward Dawson McCann out of Minot, ND, will suit up in a Knights jersey this winter.
The Knights like what they see from forwards Cooper Fredericks (Becker, MN) and Kaleb Pitman (Circle Pines, MN). Both coming off bantam seasons for their respective clubs.
Also joining the Knights from AAA programs are Caleb Elfering (Richland, WA), Jaxon Grosdidier (Sioux Falls, SD), Nathan Huntington (Berkeley Lake, GA), Adler Johnston (Albert Lea, MN) and Joshua Oswald (Papillion, NE).
Alexandria native Brayden Berg will be joining the Knights, and the team will also feature the first set of brothers to ever play for Northstar, Bronson and Tanner Hunt (Long Island, NY).
The defense will feature three of the four WHL draft picks, all of whom were taken last year in the US Prospect draft. Anthony McIntosh out of Minot, ND is a Spokane Chiefs selection. Austin Moline (Las Vegas, NV) was picked by the Swift Current Broncos and Briggs Orr (El Dorado Hills, CA) by the Calgary Hitmen. All three will look to make a big impact this season.
Also on the back end for the Knights are Logan Anderson (Elkhorn, NE) Garin Cernich (Anchorage, AK), Nate Farrell (Wheaton, IL), Brady Jones (Raleigh, NC), Lear Voit (Wexford, PA), and Alexandria native Luke Russell.
The U16 team will carry three goaltenders this season. CJ Kier (Parker, CO) is coming off a strong season at the AAA level last year. Alexandria native Beck Liden and John Simon, from Fargo, ND, are coming off solid seasons for their bantam clubs.
U18 team heading into year three
The Knights have eight returning players to their U18 team this season, including their leading scorer.
The Dixon Cup runners-up bring back Anthony Menghini from Brainerd, who recorded 69 points in 57 games last season. Kade Peterson (West Fargo, ND) returns as well, coming off a 28 point campaign in his debut season.
Also returning for the Knights are Kaden Hjelm (Omaha, NE), Maksim Bure (Malibu, CA) and Clayton Brown (Bakersfield, CA). Defenseman Jacob Napier (Lancaster, NY) returns for another year after posting 44 points last season and Auston Neubauer (Lake Elmo, MN) will be back on the blue line.
Goaltender Chris Brown (Reading, PA) is back for his third year as a Knight, coming off a season which saw him post a 1.16 goals against average and .924 save percentage in seven games.
The remaining spots on the U18 roster come from high school and AAA teams from around the country. At forward, the trio of Calvin Hanson (Hallock), Dylan Cook (Princeton) and Cody Croal (North Branch) join the Knights.
Blaise Miller (Minor, ND) is coming off helping Grand Forks Central to a third place finish in the North Dakota state tournament last season. Alexandria native Joe Westlund will be joining the Knights after three strong years for the hometown Cardinals.
Hayden Hegleson (Grand Forks, ND) and Owen Hanson (West Fargo, ND) will also join the Knights, along with Ashton Christman (Lincoln, NE) and Wes Griffin (Park City, UT).
After losing a large chunk of their defensive corp, the Knights have reloaded on the back end. Mitch Simmons (Raleigh, NC), a two time USA Hockey National Camp invitee, will play a big role in his debut season. Brian Morse (Fresno, CA) and Jeremy McDonald (Lockport, NY) both join the Knights after playing at east coast prep schools last year.
Christian Carto (Plymouth), Tyler Johnson (Boise, ID), and Nathan Mulder (West Lafayette) will man the blue line for the Knights as well. In addition to the defense, Logan Verpoort (Franklin, TN) will sit between the pipes alongside Brown at goaltender for the Knights.
This year’s team will feature 24 players from 11 states. Head Coach John Olver is entering his third year at the helm, and has Rylan Galiardi, who left the USHL to join Northstar, serving as assistant coach. Galiardi was an assistant coach for the Sioux Falls Stampede.