The Kenai River Brown Bears, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announced that defenseman Jesse Ramsey has announced his commitment to the United States Air Force Academy, where he will continue is hockey career playing for the Falcons. Air Force is a member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic Hockey Association.
Ramsey (5’11/175) is in his third year in the NAHL and has spent the better part of it all with the Kenai River Brown Bears. He is currently first on the team in scoring by a defenseman with 18 points in 26 games played. He ranks in the top 10 in NAHL defensemen in shots on goal, assists and points. He is also first on the Brown Bears roster with a +9 rating.
Ramsey, who is originally from Rogers, Minnesota, said interest from Air Force really started to pick up following the NAHL Showcase in September. “I think things with Air Force really started to progress this season,” said Ramsey. “I had spoken with them in previous years, but our team had a good showing in Blaine at the Showcase and we have been playing good hockey since then, so it really started to pick-up a few weeks ago. I’m really excited about attending Air Force. The facilities are world-class and my interests are in avaition, so I think it is the perfect fit for me both academically and athletically.”
Ramsey is having a career season. Besides almost matching his entire offensive output from a season ago in just 26 games, the biggest improvement in Ramsey’s game may be his defense. Last season, Ramsey finished with a -9 rating, but this season he leads the team with a +9 rating, something that head coach Oliver David attributes to Ramsey’s experience and desire to become a better hockey player. “I think our team is better and deeper than last season, but Jesse has tremendous skating ability, which has improved his game to the point where he is today,” said David. “He sees the ice better and has the ability to read plays and track pucks. I think all of those things has led to him becoming a more well-rounded hockey player.”
Ramsey agrees that the biggest change this season have come from the defensive side. “I think we have a better team, but coming back this year it was something I knew I had to address. You have to be good in your own zone first. Teams are too good in the NAHL and more specifically the West Division to not be solid defensively,” said Ramsey. “It is one of the things I think have held us back in playoffs in the past and hopefully one of the reasons we will be able to get over that playoff hump this season.”
As for his time in the NAHL, Ramsey says he will finish and move on to the NCAA with no regrets and proud of the fact he improved and developed enough in the NAHL to get an opportunity to play at the next level. “Coming out of high school in Minnesota, there were so many unanswered questions, but the coaches in this league know how to prepare you and work with your skill set,” said Ramsey. “I think the NAHL prepares you mentally and physically to compete at the higher levels of hockey. You learn how to live away from home, travel, balance your nutrition and play in a team environment. Those are all things colleges look for in a player and things you learn to do in the NAHL.”
The Air Force Falcons are directed by head coach Frank Serratore, who is in his 15th season, the Falcons are competing in their 44th season of Division I hockey. Serratore is the winningest coach in Air Force hockey history and has led the Falcons to league championships and NCAA tournament appearances four of the last five seasons. Under the direction of Serratore, Air Force currently has the most NAHL graduates on its roster (19) than any other team in NCAA hockey. “It is a perfect fit for Jesse with the hockey and avaiation,” said David. “I think Frank does a great job with the Air Force program and he believes in the NAHL. It is exciting for me as a coach because you see the system working.”
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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