Lone Star goalie Kaczperski makes NCAA DI commitment
February 19, 2016
By Nick Marek, Lone Star Brahmas
Lone Star Brahmas and NAHL goaltender Corbin Kaczperski has announced that he will play NCAA Division I Hockey for Yale University next fall, the oldest collegiate ice hockey program in the U.S.
“I don’t know if it’s hit me yet,” Kaczperski said. “It’s a blessing. I still can’t believe it. I’m going to give it my all at Yale. I’m still at a loss for words honestly.”
Kaczperski joins a Yale Bulldogs team that recently won the NCAA National Championship and they are currently a top-10 team in the league. The native of China Township, Michigan said attending an Ivy League school was a goal of his since starting his junior hockey career.
“It’s a dream come true. I wanted to go to an Ivy League school since I was 15 and my parents have always pushed good grades on me and you start playing hockey and you realize ‘Hey I can do this in college if I really push myself,’” Kaczperski said. “One day you send off some emails, you put in the work, you put in the time, and then one day out of the blue your dream school calls you.”
The nearly straight-A student not only takes care of work in the classroom, but he is a key reason the Brahmas are one of the best defensive teams in the league. In his first season of North American Hockey League play, Kaczperski is 17-6-2 with Lone Star. He owns two shutouts and a 2.17 goals against average, which ranks eighth in the NAHL.
From December 17 to January 18, Kaczperski went on a nine-game winning streak to help the Brahmas secure the second place spot in the South Division through the holiday season.
“Unbelievable,” Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong said of his goaltender’s Division I commitment. “Kaczperski clearly worked hard in school and he worked hard as an athlete, too. You work to get where you are in life and he earned that. He’ll have an opportunity not only to play for a top program, but also study at one of the elite (academic institutions).”
“(Going to Yale) can only benefit my game,” Kaczperski said. “With those caliber of players, you’re bound to get better. It’s really going to be a challenge and it’s going to push me. I’ve talked to the coaching staff and they’re saying it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I welcome that.”
The former NAHL honorable mention goaltender of the month is used to a challenge. Three seasons ago when Kaczperski played in the NAPHL with the Detroit Falcons Under-18 program, he went 0-12-0 on the season, faced over 30 shots per game on average, and the Falcons won just one of 24 games. Kaczperski said that season made him hungry to prove everyone wrong.
“(Yale University Assistant) Coach Josh Siembida summed it up best. I haven’t been given anything in hockey; I’ve had to work for it. I’ve had to fight and climb my way up. Overcoming the odds is probably my favorite part. Having people in my hometown not believing in me and then working my way up from there.”
Since the beginning of his journey, Kaczperski worked alongside goalie coaches Manny Legace and A.J. Walczak, co-founders of Legace Hockey Academy. “I wouldn’t be here without them. I started working with them the summer after the season where I didn’t win a game and my game just elevated where it helped me make a Triple-A team and junior team.”
Kaczperski even proved a former NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup Champion wrong along the way. After one of his first lessons, Kaz recalls Legace asking Walczak what he was doing working with this kid who “couldn’t even skate.” As we now know, Walczak was busy turning the teenager into a future NCAA athlete.
Kaczperski went on to thank his family and Mama Kaz for supporting him in life and his hockey endeavors.
“When you put in the work, you get rewarded. I think there are going to be a lot more commitments coming in here too. To get programs like BU (Boston University) and Yale and trusting our players to play for them next year is phenomenal, not just for them but for our program, too,” Wildfong explained.
Coach Wildfong went on to say he respects Kaczperski’s intensity and leadership he brings to the locker room.
“He’s a true professional,” Wildfong said. “He always comes to the rink wanting to get better and he’s handled adversity well through his career.”
But there is still one more thing Kaczperski hopes to check off his junior hockey resume.
“Everyone on the Brahmas is trying to get a college commitment. That’s what you’re working towards and you’re pushing yourself toward that and trying to be better and make the team better. Now that it’s finally happened for me, we just need to win the Robertson Cup. That’s it. That’s all I’m focused on now. We need to win the championship here,” Kaczperski said.
Kaczperski started this season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League before becoming a Brahma on September 23. Kaz also played two games for the U.S. National Under-17 Team. The newest Brahma commit said he has yet to declare his major, but he will look into Yale’s physics and economics programs.
He is the first player from the 2015-16 NAHL season to commit to Yale University and he becomes the second Lone Star Brahma (Joey Fallon – Princeton) to play for an Ivy League school. Last season, Yale alumni Brian O’Neill was honored as the American Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player.