The St. Louis Bandits, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) have announced that forward Joe Kalisz has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Connecticut for the 2012-13 season. UCONN is a member of the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA).
Kalisz, 20, is a third-year forward from Davison, Michigan, who currently leads the Bandits is scoring this season with 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 36 games. In 102 career NAHL games, Kalisz has 97 career points and his just three points shy of reaching the 100-point barrier for his career. So far this season, he has twice been named as one of the NAHL’s 3 stars of the week and it the offensive catalyst that St. Louis looks to be successful. The Bandits are currently in 2nd place in the NAHL's Midwest Division.
“I am very excited about the commitment and the opportunity to play for UCONN because I feel I can come in and have a chance to make an impact right away,” said Kalisz. “I think they are an up-and-coming program and have a great coaching staff led by Bruce Marshall, so I think it is a great fit for me.”
The UCONN men’s hockey team had a resurgent season in 2010-11. The Huskies took a 7-27-3 record in 2010 and turned it into a 15-18-4 mark in 2011. Connecticut doubled its win total from the previous year and finished sixth in the Atlantic Hockey Association final standings with a 13-12-2 record in conference. This season, the Huskies are currently 4th in the AHA standings with a 9-6-1 record.
“I think UCONN is a first-class program and I think it is a great fit for Joe,” said St. Louis head coach Jeff Brown. “Joe is a player with a lot of character and somebody who will be able to chip-in right away. I think they are getting a heck of a hockey player and one that is a leader in the lockerroom.”
Kalisz (6'0/200) says he believes that he will be a more complete player in college thanks to his years spent in the NAHL. “I think playing junior hockey in the NAHL teaches you work ethic. You learn right away that if you don’t work at getting better every day, then it isn’t going to pay off,” said Kalisz. “I think that’s something that Coach Brown preaches to us as players. We want to be successful on the ice as a team, but we also know that we are here for a bigger reason and that is to develop, grow, improve and move onto the next level. You grow up fast in this league and understand the daily grind of playing junior hockey at a high level.”
Under Brown, the Bandits have moved dozens of players onto the next level in just a few seasons at the helm, something he says he is most proud of. “It is the reason we are here, to move these players onto the next level. We all love to win, but the bigger picture for us and the Bandits program is to prepare and develop players for the next stage in their hockey careers.”
“I think having a coach like Coach Brown here in St. Louis was invaluable,” said Kalisz. “He has been in the NHL and knows what it takes. He teaches us the game, but more importantly the little things that may set us apart from others. “
Now that he has committed, Kalisz says that the #1 focus remains on getting St. Louis back to the Robertson Cup, a place that St. Louis made four straight appearances at from 2007-10. “I think we have the pieces in place and the talent, but it is going to take team unity for us to be successful. We have to do the little things that Coach Brown talks about every day… blocking shots, making good passes, being in the right place, get pucks to the net, playing good defensive hockey and most of all, pay the price.”