Knights make splash in USHL Draft

Alexandria, MN (May. 5, 2022) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected]

The Northstar Knights saw 4 current and 2 alumni selected in the USHL draft.

On Monday, Knights 16U forward, Lincoln Hjelm, became the first Knight in history to be selected in Phase 1 of the draft. Phase 1 of the Draft is ten rounds of “Futures” age players only, which for this draft were players that have 2006 birth years. Hjelm was selected in the 7th round, 94th overall by the Waterloo Blackhawks. The Omaha, Nebraska native skated in 49 games where he scored 17 goals and added 34 assists for 51 points. His 34 assists led the 16U Knights and his 51 points ranked 2nd on the team. “Playing in the USHL has always been a goal of mine and this is a great start with an amazing Waterloo organization,” said Hjelm. “I’d like to thank the good Lord, Northstar, my coaches and my family for all they have done for me. I’m very happy and excited for this opportunity!” Hjelm was a dynamic player for the Knights this season and received high praise from his coaches. “It's great having Lincoln Hjelm as our first Phase 1 draft pick.” said 16U Head Coach, Tim Jackman. “Waterloo drafted a great player and even better young man.” 16U Associate Coach, Mark Abalan, also spoke very highly of Hjelm. “Lincoln is an awesome young man.” Abalan said. “His passion and commitment to get better every day is what makes him special. He plays a 200 foot game and he is a total warrior and winner. He is totally fearless and his compete level is sky high. He has a great future as a leader both on and off the ice.” 

Phase 2 of the USHL Draft took place on Tuesday. This draft phase is open to players of all ages eligible (06-03 birth years) to play junior hockey and are not currently protected by another USHL team. Here, the Knights saw current players, Dylan Cook, Caleb Elfering, and Brian Morse selected as well as former Knights, Talon Sigurdson and Anthony Menghini.

Knight Alumni Talon Sigurdson, was selected by the Des Moines Buccaneers 6th round, 91st overall. Sigurdson played 2 years for the Knights from 2018-2020 where he totaled 42 goals and 51 assists for 93 points in 108 games played. Last season, Sigurdson split the season with the Twin City Thunder NCDC team and USPHL Premier team. This season Sigurdson made the jump to the NAHL with the Anchorage Wolverines where he had a breakout season scoring 38 goals and 21 assists for 59 points in 60 games. His 38 goals tied for 2nd in the NAHL and also ranked 3rd in the league in +/- with a +36. 

Dylan Cook was the first current Knight selected as he was selected by the Lincoln Stars in the 8th round, 119th overall. Cook scored 35 goals and added 59 assists for 94 points in 57 games played. “It’s a super amazing opportunity and I am super blessed to have been a part of Northstar the past 2 years to get me to this point,” said Cook. “I can't wait to continue training this summer here with all the guys to help push me. With that being said, it is super exciting and I can't wait for next year!” 

Caleb Elfering was selected by the Waterloo Blackhawks in the 11th round, 157th overall. Elfering will join 16U Knight, Lincoln Hjelm, in Waterloo. “Being drafted in the USHL means a lot to me,” said Elfering. “It is an encouragement to me because someone at that level sees something in me and my game.” In 56 games played this season, the Richland, Washington native tallied 22 goals and 40 assists for 62 points. 

Anthony Menghini joins fellow Knight Alumni, Jakob Stender (2018-2020), after he was selected by the Fargo Force in the 13th round, 188th overall. Menghini played 2 seasons with the 18U Knights from 2019-2021 where he accumulated 42 goals and 71 assists for 113 points. This season he played a 16 game stint with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL tallying 3 points and then spent the majority of the season with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL where he scored 20 goals and 11 assists for 31 points in 37 games. 

Defenseman, Brian Morse, was selected by the Youngstown Phantoms in the 15th round, 222nd overall. Morse will join current Knight teammate, Reese Laubach, who was selected by the Phantoms in the 3rd round, 33rd overall in last year's USHL Phase 2 draft. The Fresno, California native put up 13 goals and 61 assists for 74 points in 55 games played this season. His 61 assists and 1.35 points per game led all 18U defenseman in AAA this season. “I am extremely grateful to be selected in the USHL by Youngstown,” Morse said. “I’d like to thank my coaches, family, and most importantly God for everything they’ve done to get me here. There is still lots of work to be done, but I am super excited for what the future holds!”

“Having 6 guys drafted in the USHL this year validates Northstar’s development model,” Northstar Director, Rick Randazzo, said. “We are extremely proud of the hard work these young men have put into their hockey development but more importantly the Godly men they are becoming in all aspects of their life."  

The Knights are proud of all the hard work the boys have put in this season and are excited to watch them take the next steps in their hockey careers!


Cody Croal Commits to University of North Dakota

Alexandria, MN (Apr. 28, 2022) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected] 

Northstar Knights 18U forward, Cody Croal, has announced his commitment to the University of North Dakota. The North Branch, MN native lit up the stat books this season. In 55 games played, he has produced 42 goals and 59 assists for 101 points. His 1.84 points per game led the Knights this season and also ranked #6 overall in 18U AAA hockey of players who played in at least 20 games. In his 2 seasons of 18U AAA hockey Croal has scored 164 points in 97 games which ranked him #4 all time and ahead of NHL stars, Phil Kessel and Ryan Kesler.

“We’re very proud of this commitment that acknowledges Cody’s development as a hockey player during his time at Northstar”, Head Coach, Rylan Galiardi said. “Cody has grown from an offensively talented player, to a full 200-foot warrior that is strong in all areas of the ice. However, we’re most proud of Cody’s maturity into a Godly young man. He returned to Northstar this year with a goal of growing academically, athletically and spiritually and we believe Cody is ready to leave here and be a great leader.”

Croal will follow Knights Alumni, Ben Strinden (North Dakota) and Jacob Napier (Western Michigan), to the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL next season. He has already notched 6 games under his belt where he has scored 2 goals - both of which came in a game against the Youngstown Phantoms on April 1st. 

“I am excited and honored to continue my education and hockey career at the University of North Dakota,” Croal said of his commitment. “Thank you to my family, friends, coaches, teammates and most importantly God for supporting me!”

The Knights look forward to watching Croal play in the next step in his hockey career and growing his spirituality in a new environment! 

FCA Hockey App Launching May 4th

FCA Hockey is excited to announce the development of the “FCA Hockey App” which will be released globally on May 4th! All the details of the App as well as the cool features will be shared in the coming weeks… so stay tuned!

Knights Historic 2021-22 Season Comes to a Close

Alexandria, MN (Mar 26, 2022) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected]

The Northstar Knights 2021-22 game season has officially come to a close. Looking back on the past 6 months, the Knights have seen tremendous growth in all the players which has led to many team accomplishments. 

The 16U Knights capped off their 2nd season in existence and built off of their success from last year. The Knights finished with a record of 43-8-6 and finished ranked #42 in the country - 4 spots higher than where they finished last season. Their penalty kill was dominant this season as they only gave up 9 goals while playing a man down. Brayden Berg finished as the Knight’s top scorer with 53 points (30-23-53), followed by Lincoln Hjelm with 51 (17-34-51) and Tanner Hunt with 46 (14-32-46). Sam Kartch (23-21-44) and Gavin Hruza (21-18-39) rounded out the Knights players who hit the 20-goal plateau. As a whole, the Knights scored 200 goals while only giving up 90, thanks to a strong trio of goaltenders in Merik Grinaker, Max Weilandt and Beck Lidén. Grinaker finished the year with a 7-0 record to go along with a 0.75 GAA and a .941 SV% and will return back with the 16U Knights next season. Lidén went 19-4-4 with a 1.57 GAA and .929 SV% and Weilandt finished 19-3-2 with a 1.48 GAA & .935 SV%. Weilandt’s SV% and GAA both rank 2nd in 16U AAA hockey this season for goalies who have played more than 10 games. Lidén is not far off coming in at #7 in SV% and #4 in GAA. “Our goaltending was excellent all year, we have three very good goalies”, coach Tim Jackman said. The 16U Knights will see 14 players move onto the 18U Prep team next season but will look to build around returners Grinaker, Lincoln Hjelm, Alex Klimek, Andrew Leung. Head Coach, Tim Jackman, has seen a lot of growth in his team over the season. “I am extremely thankful to say that I got to coach this group of young men alongside coach Mark Abalan this season”, said Jackman. “We’ve seen tremendous growth and development in this team as hockey players and men, from the start in September until the final weekend against Culver Academy Waterloo, IA in early March. The drive and competitive spirit continued to increase as the season went along. The positional play, and cooperation as a team improved, along with fundamental habits that they will carry with them the rest of their hockey playing days. The players moving up to the U18 will be ready and the players returning to U16 are going to be great leaders. The season was a journey of ups and downs, and there were extremely meaningful times of growth in perseverance and maturity. This group all season, win or lose, was faithful to the call at Northstar.” 

The 18U Knights had a season for the record books. To start, the Knights took home the Dixon Cup after winning the NAPHL playoffs. They also finished with a record of 51-5-3 and are the only 18U AAA team with 50+ wins this season. On their path to success, the Knights relied on their lethal special teams as they converted on 30% of their power play opportunities and killed off 90% of their penalty kills. As a whole, the Knights scored 311 goals and only allowed 111, which averages out to 5.27 goals for per game and 1.88 goals against per game. The Knights were led by record-setting seasons by forwards Reese Laubach and Cody Croal. Laubach finished this season with 102 points (51-51-102) and Croal finished with 101 points (42-59-101). It also ranks them 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in total points in all of 18U AAA hockey this season. For the All-time 18U AAA record book for points, Laubach is tied for 4th and Croal is ranked 5th. Not far behind them was Dylan Cook, who finished the season with 94 points (35-59-94). The trio of forwards accounted for 36% of the total points of the Knights players this season and were an integral part of the Knights returning core from last season. “It’s both obvious and impressive the impact Reese, Cody and Dylan have had on the ice in their two seasons as Knights”, Head Coach, Rylan Galiardi said. “However, it is their legacy as Northstar Knight Warriors that will stand; Competitive, Disciplined and Honorable young men. Their own individual spiritual growth, along with the eternal impact they are making with their families, friends and community brings us great joy.” Forwards Caleb Elfering (22-40-62) and Ashton Christman (22-28-50) also chipped in with 22 goals a piece this season as the Knights finished with 5 players with 20+ goals. On the Blueline, Brian Morse finished the season with 74 points (13-61-74) and his 61 assists ranked first on the Knights. His 74 points ranked him first in 18U AAA this season among all defensemen. In net, the Knights were led by Logan Verpoort and C.J Kier. Verpoort finished with a record of 22-2-0 and Kier finished 27-2-1. Kier also concluded his season with a GAA of 1.16 and SV% of .941, both of which ranked first in 18U AAA hockey this season. As the season progressed, the Knights saw 11 players sign tenders with NAHL teams. That list includes: Carter Olson (Minot Minotauros), Dylan Cook (Austin Bruins), Cody Croal (Austin Bruins), Ashton Christman (Kenai River Brown Bears), Jaxon Grosdidier (Aberdeen Wings), Adler Johnston (Austin Bruins), Tyler Johnson (Lone Star Brahmas), Nathan Mulder (Lone Star Brahmas), Brian Morse (Anchorage Wolverines), Mitch Simmons (Bismarck Bobcats) and C.J Kier (Bismarck Bobcats). As the Knights season comes to a close, the team will see 17 players depart and will look to Caleb Elfering, Cooper Fredericks, Kaleb Pitman, Nathan Huntington, Dawson McCann, Nate Farrell, Luke Russell and Brady Jones to guide the 18U Knights next season. “We are so very thankful for the opportunity to spend every day growing and learning with such an outstanding group of young Godly Men”, said Galiardi. “These seniors have been such a fun group to be around and have set a standard of excellence in our three pillars. They have set the bar high for not only next year's group,  but for all future Knights to both uphold and maintain.”

Although the Knights game season has finished up, the Knights still have plenty to look forward to as the 16U Knights will participate in TeenPact and the 18U Knights will travel to Iberia, MO for a mission trip through Convoy of Hope. The Knights would like to sincerely thank everyone who has supported this season!


18U Knights Defend Title as Dixon Cup Champions, 16U Knights Fall Short in Semifinal Shootout

Troy, MI (Feb 22, 2022) 

For more information, contact: Johnny Van Atta, Director of Hockey Operations (615) 830-1113, [email protected]

The Northstar Knights traveled to Detroit, Michigan for the much anticipated NAPHL playoffs. The 18U Knights came into the weekend with strong intentions to bring back the Dixon Cup trophy after they were crowned the NAPHL Champions in 2021. This year, they took on #75 Carshield, #129 Arizona Bobcats and #15 Maine Nordiques in the 3 game pool play and went 2-0-1 en route to finishing top in their division. In the Quarterfinals, the Knights took down #56 Tri State Spartans by a score of 5-1 and then defeated Maine Nordiques again 3-1 in the Semi-Finals. Heading into the finals, the Knights knew they were headed into a battle with #62 Biggby Coffee who boasted a much improved lineup since the Knights last played them in January at the Indianapolis NAPHL showcase. Although the Knights held the advantage in the shot column, Biggby jumped out to an early lead when forward Max Martin scored on the power play. A goal by defenseman Brian Morse would even things up with 13:39 left in the 3rd period. With a little less than 90 seconds to go in regulation, the Knights would break the deadlock when Morse corralled the puck at the blue line and fired a shot through traffic that deflected off of forward Dylan Cook. The Knights would hold on to win 2-1 to reclaim the title as the NAPHL Champions. “We actually were shorthanded late, but we drew a penalty to even it out,” Galiardi said. “We got a great one-timer again by Brian Morse that went off of one of our guys in front (Cook). We’re proud of the players and thankful for the program. There's an army of people that are here for our guys and are here to support our players. Local billets, players, families, teachers, founders, people that are financially supporting what we're doing, a lot of people out there doing a lot of small and big things for us.” With a roster of 25 players this season, the Knight’s depth has been a huge factor of their success. “We've got more depth than any team probably in the country,” Galiardi said. “Nobody can put out four forward lines like we can and not have much of a drop off. Ultimately, we have a really strong, deep team. We may not jump out right away, but eventually we will chip away and usually what happens is teams usually can’t hold us off for much longer.” 

The 16U Knights came into Detroit with a 10-1-1 record since the new year and posted an astonishing 7 shutouts in those games thanks to a strong D-Core and goaltending from Beck Lidén, Max Weilandt and Merik Grinaker. Our goalies are the backbone of our team and allow our guys to play with a ton of confidence”, Associate Head Coach, Mark Abalan said. “This trio has done it all year through a tremendous work ethic and competitive attitude which they display every day.” The Knights started out pool play by defeating #410 Madison Capitols 8-0, where they outshot their opponent 56-3. The Knights then took on #208 Tri-State Spartans Saturday morning and won 4-1 thanks to goals from Sam Kartch, Alex Klimek, Bauer Berry and Tanner Hunt. The tournament then took an interesting twist Saturday night when forward Lincoln Helm received a vicious knee-on-knee hit in the game vs #93 Philadelphia Little Flyers that would unfortunately end Hjelm’s tournament. The Knights would go on to defeat the flyers 4-1 with goals from Bauer Berry, Ryan Murphy, Colten Sell and Tanner Hunt. The Knights completed pool play 3-0 and would face #41 Carshield in the quarterfinals. Carshield had been a familiar foe to the Knights during the season as the Knights owned a 2-2-1 record and 4 out of the 5 games had been decided by 1 goal. After going down 3-1 early in the 2nd period the Knights had their work cut out for them. In a span of less than 3 minutes, the Knights would storm back with 3 goals with goals from Gavin Hruza, Colten Sell, and Bronson Hunt. Led by stellar play in net by Max Weilandt, the Knights would hang on in the 3rd period to seal a 4-3 win. “This was the team we knew we would have to beat at some point in the tournament.” Abalan said, “They were one of the toughest opponents we faced all year. Because of the events from the previous game vs. the Flyers, our line-up was missing some key guys but as we’ve said all year, the strength of our team is the team and they guys really did an amazing job of digging deep and accomplishing a signature win in a huge game.” The win over Carshield earned the Knights a birth in the Semifinals against #52 Esmark Stars. The Knights and Stars held each other scoreless through 2 periods due to strong play from goaltenders Beck Lidén and Iannico Amaranto. The Stars would manage to sneak a goal past Lidén with 5 minutes to go in the game, however Bronson Hunt would rescue the Knights with a goal with 30 seconds remaining. The Knights would heavily control possession through a 5 minute 4-4 over time and then again in a 5 minutes 3-3 overtime but could not manage to get a goal. Due to time restrictions, the game needed to go into a shootout which went 7 rounds deep before a goal was scored by Stars forward Nathan Burlando. The Knights were unfortunately not able to answer back and the Stars went on to win the game 2-1 and were eventually crowned the Champions of the 16U division. “It was a great weekend by our guys and we just came up a little short.” Abalan said, “I’m disappointed for them because they played their hearts out. I’m so proud of all of them and told them after the game ‘ sometimes in sports, we just come up a little short but that doesn't diminish the growth of this group and all that we have accomplished together’”.

After getting a weekend to rest last week, the Knights will travel to Sioux Falls to take on the Power on Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5.