FAIRBANKS, Alaska – On Friday, Alaska hockey head coach Dallas Ferguson announced the signing of five new players, as Kylar Hope, Danny Kiraly, James LaDouce, Colton Leiter and Kyle Marino have all signed on to become future Nanooks. Ferguson, along with assistant coaches Corbin Schmidt and Lance West, continue to add an impressive array of young talent to the Nanooks roster, as they add three forwards and two defensemen to Nanook hockey’s already-existing recruiting class.
“We are very excited to add these players to our hockey program. Each of them bring a unique skill set that will bring value to our lineup and locker room,” Ferguson said of his five signings on Friday. “Each player has been successful in their junior careers, which will be an important part of the transition to Division I level. The maturity and leadership they have displayed in their junior seasons is something we are looking forward to working with whenever they arrive on campus. Our internal competition for lineup spots needs to improve for next season. We feel more competition among players will bring out the best in them and help each of them develop daily habits that are necessary to be successful in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).”
Kylar Hope – Lashburn, Saskatchewan, Canada (F/West Kelowna/BCHL) After posting only 20 points in the 2014-15 season with the West Kelowna Warriors, the right-handed forward has evolved into a complete goal-scoring threat for the opposition this season. Known for his grittiness in the tough areas, Schmidt described Hope as also being a player with good skating ability and high hockey IQ. In the 2015-16 regular season alone, Hope recorded 28 goals and 46 assists for 74 points in 58 games. Furthermore, Hope is tied for first in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) post-season scoring with 24 points, including 15 goals. Hope helped the Warriors capture the 2015-16 Fred Page Cup last Saturday (Apr. 23) with teammate and fellow Nanook recruit Kyle Marino, marking the first time the franchise has ever claimed the BCHL title.
“Kylar is a complete 200ft player that plays on the power play and also kills penalties,” Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster described of the 20-year old. “He has outstanding speed and puck sense. He shows up every night to play and makes the players around him better.”
Danny Kiraly – Glendale, Ariz. (D/Odessa Jackalopes/NAHL) The 6’1″, 190-pound defenseman has spent the past two seasons with the Odessa Jackalopes in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), most recently posting 12 goals and 28 assists for 40 points in the 2015-16 regular season. After finishing fourth in scoring (40) and first in goals (12) among NAHL defenseman this season, Kiraly helped the Jackalopes to a post-season appearance and was also named to the NAHL All-South Division Team for defense. Previously, Kiraly played with current Nanooks Chad Staley and Jesse Jenks when all three played with the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL (2013-14).
“Danny is an elite skating defenseman, who will excel on the Carlson Center Olympic ice sheet,” West said of Kiraly. “Over the three years we have been following Danny, he has matured into a defenseman who we can see play in all situations.”
James LaDouce – Freeland, Mich. (D/Minot Minotauros/NAHL) According to Schmidt, LaDouce is a tough defenseman who has the ability to contribute offensively if needed. Standing at 5’11”, 195 pounds, LaDouce will fit in with the Nanooks’ already-mobile blueline. After playing the 2015-16 season with the Minot Minotauros of the NAHL, the assistant captain posted 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points in 56 games during the regular season. LaDouce’s 10 goals ranked him seventh in goals among defenseman in the NAHL. Last week, LaDouce was named to the 2015-16 NAHL All-Central Division Team and most impressively named the 2015-16 NAHL Central Division Defenseman of the Year.
“James has been very solid for us on both ends of the rink this year. We gave him an opportunity to expand his role and ran with it. It was enjoyable as a coach to see him gain confidence and push himself to another level. He is a go-to defenseman for us, and we expect him to be a major contributor in the playoffs,” Minotauros head coach Marty Murray said of LaDouce. “I’m very happy James received the opportunity to play for Alaska-Fairbanks. I believe they got a great player that will continue to get better, and become an even better person off the ice.”
Colton Leiter – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (F/Spruce Grove/AJHL) Leiter signs with the Nooks after playing three seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). In the 2015-16 season, the right-handed centerman recorded 26 goals and 29 assists for 55 points in 57 games. During the 2015-16 post-season, Leiter contributed two goals and two assists for four points in seven games for the Saints. The 6’1″, 200-pound forward is a two-time AJHL Champion (2013-14 and 2014-15), making an appearance at the Western Canada Cup in spring of 2015.
“We are extremely excited to add a player like Colton with his experience and talent,” West said of Leiter. “He has played for one of the top junior programs in Canada and has developed into a top-six forward, who has the ability to play multiple positions.”
Kyle Marino – Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (F/West Kelowna/BCHL) At 6’2″, 220 pounds, Marino signs with the Nanooks after a highly-successful season captaining the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL. Besides his size and strength, Marino is known for his relentless work ethic and leadership abilities. This season alone, Marino posted 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 57 games and also posted seven goals and three assists for 10 points in this past post-season. Marino, alongside fellow teammate and Nanook recruit Kylar Hope, captured the BCHL Championship for the first time in franchise history for the Warriors and is currently continuing their post-season run for the 2015-16 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
“Kyle is the ultimate power forward. He skates well and is very difficult for defenseman to handle down low. He has the ability to change the game on his physical presence alone,” Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster said of his captain. “Kyle is versatile and can play defense when needed. Last but not least, he is a man, the ultimate leader. He cares about his teammates and yet, holds them all accountable. One of the best captains I have had the pleasure to work with.”
Previously Signed Nanook Hockey Recruits Tyler Cline – Blaine, Minn. (F/Minnesota Wilderness/NAHL) Ross Heidt – Red Deer, Alberta, Canada (F/Salmon Arm/BCHL) Jimmy Lambert – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (F/Vernon/BCHL) Tristan Thompson – Canmore, Alberta, Canada (D/Brooks/AJHL) Troy Van Tetering – Carstairs, Alberta, Canada (F/Lloydminster/AJHL) Justin Young – Leduc, Alberta, Canada (F/Whitecourt/AJHL)
For more information on the Alaska Nanooks hockey team, follow @NanooksHockey on Twitter or like the Alaska Nanooks Hockey page on Facebook.