Austin goalie Kucharski makes NCAA DI commitment
October 31, 2016
Ladder of Development: Austin Bruins goaltender Jake Kucharski played in the NAPHL last season for the Esmark Stars 16U team.
By Michael Keeley, Austin Bruins
For the second season in a row, a Bruins goaltender has committed to Providence College. The Austin Bruins, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that Jake Kucharski has agreed to play NCAA Division I hockey with the Friars Program (Hockey East), becoming the first in-season commitment for the Bruins in 2016-17.
Kucharski, 17, joins goaltender Kristofer Carlson, who committed to the Friars last Spring. After a stellar NAHL Showcase performance, Kucharski had interest from numerous schools, but he says that his relationship with Providence was months in the making.
“I first was in contact them over the summer,” said Kucharski. “I went to the campus for a visit and I really liked it and they said they were going to watch me at the Showcase the day after my first game they came up to me and offered it to me.”
Kucharski is from Erie, Pennsylvania, and says playing for a Hockey East school was always a dream of his. He played for the Esmark Stars 16U team in the NAPHL before being tendered by the Bruins. During the 2015-16 season in the NAPHL, Kucharski had a 1.77 goals against average, which ranked 7th in the NAPHL’s 16U Division.
It’s been a quick jump and big learning curve, but Kucharski is enjoying his NAHL experience so far. “It’s been great,” he said. “Playing on Fridays and Saturdays especially here at home is great. We have a great fanbase and I think the big difference [in level of play] is you can’t take a shift or a game off. You’ve got to be prepared every second of the game.”
The young goaltender credits the Bruins coaching staff for guidance and development. “They’ve definitely given me a lot of great advice,” said Kucharski. “They’ve been able to steer me in directions and really develop me so far even through the first 13 games.”
He has appeared in 9 of those 13, with 3 wins, a 3.03 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Perhaps his best performance was on day two of the NAHL Showcase, when he turned aside 39 of 41 shots in a 3-2 overtime win against the defending Robertson Cup Champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
Having just turned 17 in late September, Kucharski knows that there is still time to work on his game before the Friars come calling for his services, and his goals are clear:
“I want to improve my overall game - get stronger, faster, and build my confidence up to be able to be an elite goaltender at that level,” said Kucharski.”
Kucharski joins forward AJ Drobot (Maine) and defenseman Danny Petrick (Northeastern) as currently rostered Bruins with NCAA DI commitments. The NAHL set a record for college commitments in 2015-16, sending 259 players to NCAA programs.