The NCDC’s South Shore Kings certainly saw a major change over the summer, as Tyler Holske was named Head Coach in late August.
However, for the Kings, it was as simple as flipping a vinyl album to the other side. You’re still getting much of the same philosophy and direction, but the songs are slightly different. Holske had already been working with the Kings’ NCDC team since its 2017-18 inception as Assistant General Manager and Assistant Coach, as well as Goaltending Coach, so the transition was as seamless as they come with a head coaching change.
Thus, Holske comes into the 2022-23 season with a great handle on the team he has helped to build over the years through drafts, Combines and good, old-fashioned hitting the bricks for recruiting.
“What I like about our team this year,” Holske said, “is we have a mix of being not extremely young, but with three very strong 2005-born players alongside experienced leaders like Captain Nolan McDonough.”
Holske expects that NHL and NCAA Division I scouts will be very interested in ‘05’s Joey Melo, Owen Drury and Ethan Yang.
Melo, the team’s second round pick in this year’s NCDC Entry Draft, comes from the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes 16U team with “a really high-end hockey IQ and a knack for the front of the net.”
Owen Drury is the son of former NHL player Ted Drury and nephew of New York Rangers GM Chris Drury. Coming from the Chicago Reapers 16U squad, Drury brings a big body (6-feet-3-inches, 205 pounds) with great hockey sense and a “really heavy shot.”
Yang, a Californian like Owen Drury, will provide a powerful two-way game.
These players balance well with an athlete like McDonough in a leadership position. The former Captain at Winchendon School put together a strong season of 19 points in 34 games as a junior rookie last year.
“He’s a local kid from Dorchester who started strong with us then battled injuries. That first quarter of last year, he was really good for us,” said Holske. “He is a leadership quality type of kid who is not afraid to speak up.”
Zach Bell, a defenseman, came up to the NCDC after earning Premier New England Division Player Of The Month honors right off the bat last year. He played 34 games with the NCDC squad, registering 15 points from the blue line.
“He came up last November and he’ll be our assistant captain,” Holske added.
Additionally, the Kings picked up Ben Jenkinson, another former prep Captain (at St. George’s) who posted 36 points in 49 games with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers last year. Gabriel Pelchat, an ‘04 who was a late arrival last year, is “a really dynamic player who will be heavily relied upon to bring some offense.”
Goaltender Cameron Kuntar (‘03) returns to the net after putting down a strong 9-3-0-1 season last year with a .911 save percentage.
“He’s really good – a gamer. He’s quiet in net, really in control of his game,” said Holske. “He’s back and expecting big things from him.”
He’ll be pushed in net by Ben Williams, a former Hoosac School goaltender and son of Darryl Williams, an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers.
“These two guys will battle it out – I expect both to play,” Holske added.
Overall, Holske sees forward and goaltending depth, with the biggest question mark remaining on defense, where Bell is the sole returning player.
“Defense is a work in progress, but we have good players we’ve recruited whom no one has seen in the NCDC before,” said Holske. “How does it all pan out? I’m excited about the new faces on our team.”