Peters Township's Recktenwald set to join Johnstown Tomahawks
Last year, Trevor Recktenwald watched as eight of his teammates were selected to move on to the Junior A North American Hockey League.
Recktenwald, a Peters resident, wanted to do the same upon completing his senior year of high school.
So he did something about it.
“After every game last year, scouts were coming asking to see our players,” Pittsburgh Viper Stars U18 AAA team coach Dave Kosick said. “Trevor's name wasn't called. So at some point in time last year, he sat down and told me he wanted to be the guy scouts came to the rink to see. And he's done what he had to do to achieve that.”
The work paid off for Recktenwald, who signed a tender sheet with the NAHL's Johnstown Tomahawks for the 2013-14 season.
A 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward, Recktenwald led the Viper Stars in scoring with 104 points (41 goals and 63 assists) in 74 games this season. Recktenwald has been part of North American Prospects Hockey League regular-season title-winning teams during both of his seasons with the Viper Stars, who are based in Harmarville.
“Trevor's a big kid, a prototypical power forward,” Kosick said. “He's a young man who's growing out of his teenage years and entering his adulthood years, so the opportunities and potential are pretty high with his size and his shot and his physical ability at his age. And he has a (mental) maturity on top of it.
“He's worked hard for this opportunity.”
The NAHL is the largest USA Hockey-sanctioned Junior A league with 24 teams across the country, including two in Alaska. The 37-year-old NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey (age 20 and younger) league in the United States, second only to the United States Hockey League.
Players stay with host families while playing for NAHL teams, and most work to earn college scholarships.
“Long term, I definitely want to be able to play at the D-I level, for sure,” Recktenwald said. “I want to eventually get my college degree and go to college to play hockey. If pro hockey happens in the process, I'm not really looking to that right now, but that'd be great. But I think D-I is the ultimate goal for me.”
Junior hockey is the next step in trying to achieve that goal.
Signing a tender is akin to signing a contract of sorts, as the player is announcing his intention to play for that NAHL team. Each team gets eight tenders, in addition to a draft that follows.
Recktenwald was the first signed tender for the Tomahawks, who are in their first season in Johnstown.
Another offer Recktenwald was considering was from the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings.
“Johnstown won me over,” Recktenwald said. “Especially speaking with their coaches. (Head coach Jason Spence) is a really great guy, and I know a couple players there who are really great kids who I played with before. Then, with it being close to home, it seemed like the perfect place to go.”
While overall strength and conditioning and skills were stressed, it was speed Recktenwald set out to improve during the past year.
It started with his chat with Kosick after seeing many of his teammates move on to junior hockey.
“I asked him what I needed to do to get better,” Recktenwald said. “He's always helpful and guided me to the style of play I needed to play to utilize all my size and strength to my advantage.
“He helped me out a lot, and without that, I wouldn't be where I'm at today.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.