By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Only one player in the history of the USPHL Premier Conference has pulled on his team’s jersey more than 200 times, be it for a regular season game or Nationals games (three years in a row). He’s done it a record 202 times – counting regular season and postseason games – to be exact. And he’s not done yet.
Peter Keese has been a constant in the Premier since 2019, first with his home state’s Minnesota Blue Ox and then since 2021 with the Charlotte Rush. Today, he’s the Captain of the Rush and he’s hoping to bring them to the top of the Nationals hill for the first time since the Rush won it all in 2021.
They have to make it there first, of course. Nothing is guaranteed, especially in an always tough Southeast Division that’s more competitive than ever this year. He is motivated, though, to help his teammates get to the league’s biggest stage, once again this year set at the Utica University Nexus Center in Utica, N.Y.
“The USPHL Nationals event is an extremely cool experience,” said Keese. “The USPHL does an excellent job of bringing the league’s top teams into one facility to compete for a championship.”
Beyond 2023-24, he’s looking to compete for a National Championship at the NCAA Division III level with Albertus Magnus College, to which he has committed recently. He’ll join the Albertus Magnus Falcons this coming fall.
“I began talking to Albertus Magnus at the USPHL Tampa Showcase,” added Keese. “The coaches really liked my speed and the way that I move the puck. They also appreciated my ability to play a two-way game and the pride that I take in the defensive zone.”
Albertus Magnus College joined the NCAA Division III world the same year Keese played in his first USPHL Premier games, 2019-20. Head Coach Kyle Wallack has put up 52 wins since starting up the program.
“Being a newer program, I was very excited by the strides that the Albertus Magnus hockey program has made in the past few years. The facilities were phenomenal and I believe I have a great opportunity to step in and contribute my freshman year,” said Keese, who has registered 108 points in his 173 regular season games, and six points in 29 postseason contests.
“Academically, Albertus Magnus offers a strong finance program which is exactly what I was looking for. I also believe that the small class sizes will be extremely beneficial in providing me with 1-on-1 access to professors that I would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.”
Keese won’t necessarily be done with his educational path after he’s played his final games for Albertus Magnus, as he has a plan of moving on to law school after earning a finance/economics Bachelor’s degree. He’s excited to get this journey started at Albertus Magnus’ stately New Haven, Conn., campus.
“I was able to visit the campus in early January. Many of the students were still gone on holiday break, but I loved the campus. The scenery on campus was incredible and I really enjoyed the close proximity to downtown New Haven,” said Keese. “After meeting and talking with Coach Wallack, I knew that Albertus Magnus was the right spot for me. I have a ton of trust in him and I am extremely excited to play for him.”
He’s also enjoyed every exciting moment of playing for the Rush since joining the team in 2021, which has included making the National Championship game in 2023 before falling to the Northern Cyclones.
“I have nothing but great things to say about the Charlotte Rush organization. It is truly special how much the Rush care about your growth, not only as a hockey player, but as a person,” said Keese. “They also do an incredible job in advancing players, whether it be to college hockey or to the next level of juniors. The development you find at the Charlotte Rush is second to none.”
With Keese’s attention to all of the details of the game – witness his team-leading 75 blocked shots and defense-leading +34 this year – he could certainly have taken his game pretty much anywhere this year, but as aforementioned, he’s always felt at home with the Rush and in the United States Premier Hockey League.
“The USPHL is a great league and has been an awesome place for me to improve my game,” he said. “The various showcases the league provides give players a unique opportunity to showcase their talents in front of tons of college recruiters.”
Regardless of how the remainder of his time with the Rush pans out, he knows that there is plenty of work to do both for his current team and also in order to prepare to be the best college hockey player he can be from Day 1 at Albertus Magnus.
“I am continuing to work on my strength and skating. Skating is the foundation of my game and I want to continue to improve on it as I prepare for the next level,” he said. “I also want to make sure I am physically prepared to play against older and stronger players.”
The USPHL congratulates Peter Keese, his family, the Charlotte Rush and Albertus Magnus College for his commitment.