Chris Kamal has been around hockey his whole life and once this season ends, he hopes he can continue to be around the game he has grown to love.
And even if there was a time Kamal wasn’t exactly around hockey, having a radio close by gave him the opportunities to not only listen to games, but to also have his family present.
Kamal’s father, Dan, is the play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and has been in that role since the Thrashers entered the NHL prior to the 1999-2000 season. He also worked for the Atlanta Knights of the first incarnation of the International Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
“My dad got his degree in Communication Studies from UMass-Amherst (where he worked on the school’s radio station) and then his Master’s in Communications from Boston University,” said Kamal, now a goalie with the Alexandria Blizzard.
“He played some high school hockey in the Boston area, but he probably wouldn’t have been a good player in college, so he went into broadcasting and worked his way through the minors and eventually to the NHL.”
Kamal, born in Pennsylvania while his father was with the Bears, moved to Georgia in 1999 and now calls the town of Alpharetta home. He’s in his first season in Alexandria and has emerged as one of the NAHL’s top college prospects, even playing in January’s Sherwood/NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The fact Kamal was selected to the event is somewhat of a minor miracle. This time last year, his hockey career was in doubt after he suffered a serious injury the offseason before while working a construction job.
“I got pinned against a dumpster and broke my leg,” explained Kamal. “I was in the hospital for a week and then was out of commission for about three weeks. It took about three of four months of physical therapy before I could walk with no crutches. But through all that, all I could think about was hockey and if I’d ever get the chance to play Division I hockey. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
With hard work and determination, Kamal earned the trust of his doctor, who allowed his to resume skating and start the road back to competitive hockey.
Then, through some connections his father had with Alexandria head coach Doc DelCastillo, Kamal earned a tryout last summer with the Blizzard and his comeback was nearly complete after he made the squad.
While the Blizzard finished in third place in the Central Division with 30 wins, Kamal was in net for 21 of them. He’s been the No. 1 goalie all season and hopes to see some playoff success in his final season of junior hockey.
“I’d like to think I’ve been pretty consistent this year and that I’ve kept my team in games,” said Kamal. “We struggled early on, but we’ve come around since then and have become more of a team. That’s taken a load off me because I know one guy doesn’t have to be the best. We know more than one guy can make up for another guy’s mistakes if that happens.”
Being named to Top Prospects was icing on the cake for the 20-year-old.
“That was a really cool opportunity,” beamed Kamal. “To have all the teams from one division represented really gave us all a chance to get to know each other and meet guys from the other three divisions. I just wanted to go out and impress all the (Division I) scouts and there was no better place to do it than there in Ann Arbor.”
And while Kamal has no formal offers to any schools just yet, he’s banking on an opportunity in short time.
“I’m really still in the process of talking to schools,” Kamal said. “I think because I didn’t play at all last year, a lot of schools have never seen me play. But now, I just want to see what’s out there and get something in place for next year.
“Coach keeps telling me not to worry, that it’ll happen. And I hope it does.”