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NA Now: Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks

August 15, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.

Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks

Head Coach: Patrik Stefan (2nd season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 6-47-7, 19 pts. (7th in the East Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Andrew Eberling (31 points)

2023 Playoffs: Did not qualify

2023-24 Division: East

First regular season game: Friday, September 8th vs. New Jersey Titans

Home opener: Friday, September 8th vs. New Jersey Titans

The 2022-23 season was a tough one for the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks as they struggled throughout the year. They saw a coaching change about halfway through the season bringing in former #1 overall NHL Draft pick Patrik Stefan to lead the charge. They would finish the season strong, winning three of their final four games.

“At any level when a coach comes in during the middle of the season, it’s challenging,” said Stefan. “You’re in the middle of the season, you’re trying to implement some new things, some structure, and some culture. You have to find the balance between not over doing it, so you don’t throw too many things at the players and at the same time let them be able to play free, kind of get to know them for the four months I was there.”

As a former player, Stefan knows that the culture in the locker room could be the thing that brings a group together and puts them over the top. “One thing I learned is that just being a former player, even at the highest level doesn’t make you a good coach,” Stefan explained. “You know the game, where it gives you an edge is you’ve been in the locker room. You experience this stuff on a daily basis as a player. When I’m communicating with my players, I have a pretty good idea of how they’re feeling in different situations. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs which kind of helped me become a better coach. When you go through adversity you really find out a lot about yourself or about your team and about your players.”

The Jr. Hat Tricks will have some experience coming back for them this season. Wyatt Stefan played well as a 17-year-old. He appeared in 53 contests, potting 10 goals and finished with 26 points. Nash Jacobsma also had over 20 points with 10 goals and 11 helpers in his first season in Danbury. Logan Nickerson took a step forward in his second year of juniors as he netted 11 goals and had 20 points. David Overbeeke looks to take the next step in his development after a rookie year that saw him scored five times in 38 appearances.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Patrik Stefan

“Nash only scratched the surface last season. He’s a player that we are expecting big things from. We expect him to be very productive and be a 200-foot center,” said Stefan speaking of his returning forwards. “Logan Nickerson and David Overbeeke are coming back. Overbeeke, I didn’t really know much about, he’s got great speed and wheels. He really came into his own and found his game and that was good to see.”

On the back end, Liam Varmecky leads the returning group. The blue liner from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania found the back of the net twice and had 14 points on the year. Ivan Korodiuk also comes back for a second season in the Hat City. He scored once and had nine points and was also named to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Griffin Zaske returns for his final junior season as he comes off a year with a goal and five points. “Liam I really enjoyed coaching on and off the ice. He’s got great leadership. Him and Zaske, you talk about those two veteran guys that are going to be coming into their last season,” said Stefan referring to his blue line. “Ivan Korodiuk took major steps last year in his development and has shown what he can do.”

Danbury a great hockey history and the Jr. Hat Tricks are looking to improve in the standings to really get the local community behind them. “What I really like about our team and our group, I think the ownership is very supportive and very committed. They want to see be successful, they saw what happened with the Federal League team and how the city got behind that. So hopefully we can provide that excitement and success and that’s our goal within the organization,” said Stefan.

With the season just a few weeks away, Stefan is excited to get on the ice. “I’m most excited about the training camp starting, being able to see the team together, work on some different things. It’s my first training camp with the team because I came in during the middle of last season. It’s going to be nice to have a few weeks to work on different things so I’m super excited about that,” Stefan said. With a full offseason and training camp to prepare, Danbury is aiming to get back into the playoff picture and become a contender in the East Division.

Next Up: El Paso Rhinos

 
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