The Alpena Street Cats haven't taken the ice yet at Northern Lights Arena, but the team is already establshing some local connections.
Jared Kwiatkowski, a star with the Alpena High School hockey team the past two seasons, will be sticking around Alpena a little longer after he recently signed with the Street Cats.
"It feels pretty great I was pretty excited when they called me because then I get to play hockey here another year and I wouldn't have to go anywhere else to play." Kwiatkowski said.
News File Photo
Alpena’s Jared Kwiatkowski, left, battles for the puck during a game against Gaylord at Northern Lights Arena. Kwiatkowski recently signed with the Alpena Street Cats of the Midwest Junior Hockey League.
The Street Cats are a member of the Midwest Junior Hockey League, a Junior-A based league and are slated to begin play in the fall.
In the past two seasons, Kwiatkowski was a spark plug for the Wildcats, tallying 86 points-48 goals and 38 assists. Pairing with Zach Nash and Sam Rumbles, Kwiatkowski was part of a formidable line that helped the Wildcats reach a Division 3 regional final in March.
The deal works out well for both parties. Kwiatkowski, who has aspirations of playing college hockey some day, gets a chance to further his hockey career at the next level in front of his hometown crowd. The Street Cats get a player with height, an inate ability to score and someone who isn't afraid to be physical at times.
The new team is hoping Kwiatkowski's signing is the beginning of a good relationship and possible feeder system between the Wildcats and the Street Cats.
"Jared is a good key in the relationship between us and the community," Street Cats coach and owner Igor Myaskovskiy said. "I think it's great for both parties."
Kwiatkowski was initially sent a message on Facebook by Street Cats assistant Eric Peterson, a former Alpena High defenseman from 2002-05 and member of the Alpena IceDiggers. Peterson asked Kwiatkowski if he was interested in playing and passed along his number to Myaskovskiy who was able to talk Kwiatkowski into playing.
If not for Myaskovskiy's call, Kwiatkowski said he probably would've played Midget BB hockey.
Aside from playing for the Wildcats, Kwiatkowski has been able to hone his skills at several summer camps in the last few years. Last summer he attended an excellence camp in Chelsea where he got favorable feedback on his physical style of play from a New York Rangers scout. This summer he has attended camps in Troy and Traverse City.
Though he admitted the next level of hockey will be a little different without his linemates, Kwiatkowski is anxious to become a playmaker on his new team.
"I'm going to try and score goals and make my presence known on the ice as much as possible," he said.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.