Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lumberjacks' Kohls commits to Niagara

The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced that Isaac Kohls verbally committed to Niagara University on Tuesday afternoon.

Kohls, a 19-year-old forward from Forest Lake, Minn., chose the accredited institution for its premier business program and because the Atlantic Hockey Association champion automatically earns an NCAA Tournament berth. Kohls finalized his decision after a recent visit, during which he liked the campus in Lewiston, N.Y., and everyone around the program.

Kohls will join Niagara’s squad this fall. He believes that playing for the AHA’s Purple Eagles, after rapid development in one season in the United States Hockey League, will keep his hockey career – and the one that will follow – on the right track.

“I want to be able to play all four years, develop and hopefully someday play some kind of pro hockey,” Kohls said. “That’s part of their motto there – getting every player a chance to play pro. Their business program is a very good one, and my education was a big part of the decision. I’ll go there, play four years and have a great degree, and hopefully someday make a good living from it.”

“We are very pleased for Isaac that he has achieved the next step in his career, as well as secured his future with his scholarship,” Lumberjacks owner Josh Mervis said. “Isaac had a lot of different opportunities, from the Western Hockey League to the NCAA, and we’re thrilled that he was able to make the perfect choice – the college route – as that will not only enable him to develop as a hockey player, but will set him up for a lifetime of success beyond the game.”

The Jacks’ 15th-round selection (216th overall) in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft has 13 points (six goals and seven assists) in his rookie season. He also leads the club with two short-handed goals and posted a five-game point streak early in the season.

Kohls honed his skills with the Deux-Rives Dolphins Youth Hockey program. Last season, he racked up 81 points with the Streetsville Derbys of the Central Canadian Hockey League before making the big jump to the USHL and enjoying immediate success in Muskegon.

“Congratulations to Isaac and to the university for the player they’re getting.” Lumberjacks head coach Kevin Patrick said. “Isaac’s got top-six forward offensive skills. He’s a guy who will make things happen with the pass and can beat you with his shot. He’s got a great wrist shot.”

Kohls leaned heavily on his parents’ input and that of his coaching staff, particularly Patrick.

“KP’s been in the recruiting business for a long time,” Kohls said of his coach, who had a big hand in recruiting during his six years as an assistant at the University of Wisconsin. “He knows a lot about it and gave me a lot of helpful advice.”

“Our mission is to develop players both on and off the ice for the challenges that lay ahead,” Patrick said. “The level of play in this league is producing players who are ready to immediately contribute at good Division I programs.”

Niagara is second in the AHA standings with a conference mark of 8-5-0, and is 11-7-2 overall. Kohls will inevitably bump into current teammate Ryan Misiak, who is committed to Mercyhurst College.

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