The very first champions of the National Collegiate Development Conference, the Islanders Hockey Club are looking for a rise back to prominence for both the team and its players, always pushing for NCAA Division I careers.
“We’re very optimistic about this year’s team. We have a good combination of younger and older players, along with guys in the middle birth years. I’m very pleased with just how quickly everyone is coming together as a team and building a very healthy culture,” said Tim Kyrkostas, entering his fourth season at the helm of the NCDC squad. “The players are understanding our systems, and buying in and doing the right things each and every day. No one is cutting corners.”
The Islanders of 2021-22 had a rare down year for an organization that had made playoffs their first four seasons, including capturing the Dineen Cup in 2017-18. Aside from standings, however, the Islanders continued to foster NCAA Division I talent, including Brown University recruit Aaron Schwartz and, in a smaller role on the NCDC team, RPI commit Jackson Kyrkostas.
The Islanders look to add to their NCAA Division I list with ‘04 blueliner Elijah Brown, a 2020 Futures Draft Pick who has already been on college visit.
“Elijah is a very promising defenseman and he is doing great in a leadership role,” said Kyrkostas. “He and Patrick Sommerville, already an NCAA recruit, began organizing and running team bonding activities right from the start. Both will wear the ‘C’ for the Islanders this year.”
Somerville is entering his third season with the NCDC and fourth overall with the Islanders. A former member of the 16U IHC squad, he helped that team capture the 2018-19 USPHL 16U National Championship. Somerville, at 60 regular season games played, is just outside the Islanders’ Top 10 all time in NCDC games played.
Additionally returning are defenseman Sam Nichols, an ‘02 defenseman, and ‘02 goaltender Connor Strobel. He will be the likely starter for the season, according to Kyrkostas.
In terms of newcomers, 2005-born Brayton Frick is living up to the expectations of being the No. 1 overall NCDC Entry Draft selection this past spring.
“He is very consistent with his work ethic and plays a 200-foot game,” said Kyrkostas. “We’re high on him and NCAA Division I colleges will be high on him as well.”
The Islanders recruited heavily overseas as well, and are excited about players such as Emil Kivisto (‘03) and Wilhelm Patriksson (‘02), who finished first and second with the Nacka J20 team in their native country of Sweden.
“Elias Hornquist, Daniel Stjernqvist and Karl Lemon are three good strong defensemen, all with college potential,” added Kyrkostas, about his quintet of Swedish imports.
While keeping a global eye open in terms of recruitment of players, the Islanders are also very proud of their homegrown talent. Along with Sommerville,, the team has ‘04 forward Braxton Powers, who completed a season with the USPHL 18U squad last year after being a 2020 Futures Draft pick and will now make the jump to the NCDC.
Trevor Castino, an ‘03 from Woodland Hills, Calif., hasn’t played in the USPHL as of yet, but did compete for the Islanders’ split-season 18U squad last year prior to his season at New Hampton School. He will be a dynamic center coming onto the NCDC team.
All of these players will help steer the Islanders in an extremely tightly packed North Division, where the top four (playoff) spots were separated by nine points, and the difference between a playoff spot and out of the playoffs was six points. Every win is crucial because of how the dust can settle in the end.
“It’ll be another year of being a very fast, skilled and younger division and league overall,” said Kyrkostas. “We have great team speed and great team skill. We’ll be a hard team to play against.”