The fall semester is just around the corner, and the Weber State club hockey team will be lacing up their skates and hitting the ice soon for the 2021-22 season with nine new additions to the team.
Due to COVID-19, the American Collegiate Hockey Association canceled the regular season last year for all divisions, and the Wildcats were left with no regular-season games to play besides two scrimmages against Utah State University on March 18 and April 2.
Coming into a fresh season, head coach Kiyoshi Ryujin has brought in six forwards and three defensemen into the Wildcat lineup.
Center Jaden Hewes is a 5-foot-9-inch center from Anchorage, Alaska, who played hockey last season for the Philadelphia Hockey Club in the National Collegiate Development Conference of the United States Premier Hockey League. Hewes had three goals and two assists in 38 games.
Kaden Krueger is an offensive defenseman from Boise, Idaho. He played eight games for Lake Tahoe Prep Academy in California and scored three goals and two assists in eight games during the 2018-19 season before playing one game for the Oklahoma City Junior Blazers in the North American 3 Hockey League last season.
Left wing Austin Chesworth is a Gilbert, Arizona, native who spent the 2019-20 season with the Phoenix Junior Coyotes of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League and the Northern Cyclones located in Hudson, New Hampshire, inside the USPHL. He had three assists for the Junior Coyotes in 16 games and three assists for the Cyclones in 17 games.
Louis Staffieri is a 6-foot right wing from Everett, Massachusetts, who scored 6 goals and 13 assists in 41 games during the 2019-20 season for the Valley Junior Warriors in Haverville, Massachusetts, who play in the Elite Hockey League Premier.
Staffieri will be teammates once again with center/wing Isaac Espinosa, as they both were on the same Junior Warriors team together two years ago. The 5-foot-10-inch forward from Roseville, California, scored an impressive 12 goals and six assists for 18 points in 26 games for the Junior Warriors before playing eight games and recording one assist for the New England Wolves in the EHL Premier as well.
Cole VanOrman is one of two players that will be going from the Ogden Mustangs of the USPHL Premier to Weber State. After having a prolific high school career, scoring 120 points in only 51 games for Northern Utah Independent in three seasons, the left-wing VanOrman made the jump to the Mustangs last year and had four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 27 games.
The other former Mustang, defenseman Bobby Gallard, will also continue to play in Ogden for WSU. Gallard is from Sandy and registered two points in nine games during the 2019-20 season for the Mustangs.
Defenseman Nikita Kochetkov is coming from Kazan, Russia. Kochetkov is 6-foot-9-inches and looks to be a physical part of the Wildcats’ lineup.
The latest addition to the roster is a second Russian, who joins the Weber State team as center/wing Osman Cholak leaves Northern Illinois University’s ACHA Division 1 program after one year. Cholak scored 6 goals and had six assists for 12 points in 25 games in 2019-2020 for the Huskies.
The first game of the 2021-22 season for Weber State will be on Sept. 17 at 7:15 p.m. when they face-off against the Utah Valley University Wolverines at the Ogden Ice Sheet.