USPHL Advancement To Tier I Hockey Extends Beyond Players
It was no problem for the Rockets Hockey Club to find their newest NCDC Head Coach. Once former coach Jason Kersner was hired as the new Head Coach and General Manager by the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, they only had to look at the same family for the man tapped to replace him. Jared Kersner was announced late last week as the new NCDC Head Coach.
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After all, USPHL advancement is not just limited to players – coaches move up to higher levels as well!
The fraternal connection will not only benefit family gatherings, but will greatly benefit players from both organizations as well as the organizations themselves as both teams work to develop players to move them to the highest level of college hockey while also garnering NHL scout attention. Jason Kersner has vowed to help NCDC players – not just the Rockets’ – move up to Tier I hockey.
“Now being with the Musketeers, I know where we can find good players. And it’s not just with the Rockets, but the Jersey Hitmen have good players, the Junior Bruins have good players,” said Jason Kersner. “Every team in the NCDC has players who can play in the USHL.”
While Kersner is going to be pushing for the Musketeers to repeat as Clark Cup Champions after recently winning the USHL title, he knows his younger brother will be pushing for the Dineen Cup in New Jersey. Jared moves into the position after nearly 10 years of co-ownership of the Skipjacks Hockey Club with Jason and serving as Head Coach of their 18U and 16U teams over the many seasons.
“I’m definitely excited,” added Jared, of the new challenge of picking up on the rise in development and on-ice success started by Jason in 2020-21. “I’ve been a part of [the Rockets] the last couple years. We just ran his main camp the week before last, and I was involved with the players and former Skipjacks and players we’ve coached throughout the summer. So I knew a lot of the guys and had some connection with them.
“Jason built the team most of the summer, but I had my fingers in it. I’m excited to get to know them a little bit more and I’m just trying to stay above water with this transition. We are a little bit fortunate we are right next to each other and can hand it off.”
The upward mobility for the Kersner brothers began when one of their coaching mentors, former Musketeers Head Coach Luke Strand, was named an Assistant Coach for The Ohio State University, an NCAA Division I team. That cleared the way for Sioux City management to look east and see that Jason Kersner, in his first year with the Rockets – and amidst a worldwide pandemic – had lifted the team to 35 wins, more than the prior two seasons combined.
And to boot, he led the team to the 2021 NCDC Clark Cup Championship Game.
Additionally, the 2020-21 Rockets NCDC team saw an NHL Draft Pick in Sam Lipkin, who shone brightly during the Hub City Tampa six-week series in January and February. He doesn’t have to rebuild so much with Sioux City, though they will have to reload after the Clark Cup victory.
“I’m excited to be a part of the Musketeers. It is a program I’ve been kind of connected with for a long time. I’m very close with ownership and the coaching staff that’s here to get the opportunity to follow one of my coaching mentors and good friends, Luke Strand, who’s one of the all-time best,” said Jason. “Big shoes to fill, but I’m excited to be part of the program.
“We’ve obviously had a little success, with winning games and player advancement,” he added, when asked by Dan K how it all happened that he signed on with Sioux City. “I’ve worked a lot with Jared. We started the Skipjacks Hockey Club in 2013, and he and I have coached together for a long time. Alex Doyle and Patrick Jarrett, plenty of the other guys have been around us. Obviously the players get it done, so when you’re around good players and good people, good things happen.”
One of Jared’s earlier coaches in his career was Jason himself. Jared has been able to look up to his brother who is three years his senior, and while they’ve been partners in the Skipjacks ownership, he’s also excited that they can share this moment of advancement together, as Jared moves up from coaching (most recently) the 18U Skipjacks squad to the NCDC level.
“Jared started coaching me when he was 18 and I was 15. He’s opened a lot of doors and taught me a lot about the game,” said Jared. “He’s just continuing to move up and I’m happy that I’m going with him.”
Both brothers will work to develop the Tier I-ready talent that has come out of the Rockets over the last few years.
“Helping them to get to NCAA Division I is a big part of it, but trying to help them get to the USHL is a big part of it, too,” said Jason. “Sam Lipkin was our best USHL connection. He comes back to us in the NCDC, plays 20 games with us, has a great run, gets his confidence back, goes back to Chicago, finishes the season, wins a championship, gets his NHL Draft pick. Goes back there, part of the leadership group, and has another amazing season on his way to Quinnipiac.”
He also noted other players from this past season’s team who will move up to Tier I – Evan Brown will play at Dubuque and Kevin Fitzgerald will play at Omaha. The pipeline certainly will not end there.
The Rockets Hockey Club and Sioux City Musketeers are now both in a very good place with the Kersner family connection and a legacy of success to continue to build upon. The USPHL congratulates both brothers on their advancements.