Broadcasters and On-Ice Officials named for 2019 NAHL Top Prospects
January 30, 2019
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is pleased to announce the broadcasters and on-ice officials who have been selected to work the 2019 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, which takes place on February 18-19, 2019, at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament is one of the most highly-scouted events in junior hockey. Last season, over 220 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. It continues to be an important part of the NAHL event model, which includes the NAHL Showcase in September and the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship in May.
Rosters for the 2019 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament will be announced on Friday, February 1st on nahl.com
The league has named Rob Sanderson from the Corpus Christi IceRays and Denis Puska from the Amarillo Bulls as the two broadcasters who will be calling and doing play-by-play of the games live in HD on HockeyTV. Sanderson and Denis were selected to do the play-by-play for the event by the rest of their NAHL broadcasting peers, who participated in a league-wide vote. In addition, special NAHL correspondent and reporter Kirsten Krull will also be at the event assisting in the broadcasting duties with interviews, rink-side analysis, and special features.
“We have an experienced team of broadcasters that will be all be attending and working the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the first time. With a new location and venue, I think everyone is very excited to put on a great broadcast for the fans that will be informative, entertaining, insightful, and showcase some of the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, in addition to dozens of NHL prospects,” said Alex Kyrias, NAHL Director of Communications.
The NAHL is also pleased to announce the on-ice officials for the event. The head referees are (alphabetical): Bobby Esposito, Anthony Vikhter, and Riley Yerkovich. The Linesmen are (alphabetical): Ricky Faron, Matt Heinen, Pete Jenkin, Joe Johnson, Cam McCambridge, and Aaron McCrary.
“We are excited for this group of officials. They all have worked hard in the first half of the season and worked consistently well to garner this honor of working at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. We’ve taken feedback from our teams, as well as, our officiating coaches to select our nine officials, as our partnership with the teams has vastly improved during the 2018-19 campaign,” said NAHL Director of Officiating Keith Kaval. “It’s been a pleasure to work with the NAHL on the development of officials and the talent in the league is outstanding on a nightly basis, especially with the amount of college commitments. We as a officiating department must work diligently to improve our product to match what our coaches and teams do.”
One of the things the NAHL does better than any other junior league is seeing their players earn an NCAA opportunity while playing and being showcased in the NAHL. To date, 165 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2018-19 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event. The event continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as, some potential NHL Draft picks.
Rob Sanderson: Sanderson is in his first season broadcasting for the IceRays. The Rochester, New York, native spent the previous three seasons with the Chicago Steel, leading the organization to 2017-18 USHL Media Team of the Year honors. Sanderson has American Hockey League play-by-play experience, filling in for both the Rochester Americans and Utica Comets. "I look forward to heading up to Massachusetts to call this event and help tell the story of so many terrific players and future student-athletes from across the NAHL. Thank you to my colleagues for the selection, and to the NAHL and HockeyTV for the opportunity,” said Sanderson.
Denis Puska: Puska is in his ninth season with the Amarillo Bulls and celebrates his 13th year calling hockey in the Texas Panhandle. The Kapuskasing, Ontario, native was the voice of the Amarillo Rattlers and Amarillo Gorillas. Puska has also called games in the ECHL for the Pensacola Ice Flyers, Flint Generals of the International Hockey League, and Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League. In 2003 Puska was recognized as the CHL's Broadcaster Of The Year and that same season worked on the CHL All-Star Broadcast. “I’m honored to attend such a prestigious event that showcases the NAHL. I’m looking forward to representing the Amarillo Bulls, but our ownership group, as well as, my fellow broadcasters and the South Division.