Buffalo Jr. Sabres netminder Parker Gahagen (photo credit - Dave Powers/OJHL Images) has confirmed his commitment to join the Army Black Knights beginning with the 2013-14 Atlantic Hockey Association season.
The Amherst, New York native made the jump to junior hockey, joining the nearby Buffalo Jr. Sabres last season and has consistently improved his play during a season and a half in the OJHL. Taking over the starters role on the club by mid-Fall last year, he led the Sabres to a 3rd place finish in the West Division with a record of 21-11-3, including two shutouts, a 3.14 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.
Already this season, Gahagen has surpassed last seasons win total and more than tripled his shutout total, sitting with a 23-9-3 record, including a league-leading seven shutouts to go with his 2.57 goals against average and .921 save percentage. Along with being named the OJHL's November Gongshow Gear Goaltender-of-the-Month, Gahagen was also selected as a member of the OJHL West Division All-Stars that competed at the 2012 Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge held in Wellington, Ontario.
“I chose Army because of the opportunities it creates both hockey wise and career wise,” said Gahagen. “In comparison to other colleges I had to choose from, none of the others gave me as great an opportunity to excel in both aspects of life and hockey. Also, I am looking forward to the challenge of West Point to transform me into the best leader and person I can be.”
“I couldn't be happier for Parker,” said Jr. Sabres head coach and general manager Michael Peca. “He is a perfect fit for West Point academically, athletically and most importantly for the moral integrity he exhibits. He will be a great addition and help them right away next season.”
Gahagen revealed he leaned heavily on his Christian faith while making his choice among several schools.
“I was constantly stumbling upon Bible verses and other references that were leading me towards West Point, so I felt that God was also leading me towards it,” said Gahagen. “I knew if it was somewhere He wanted me to go then it would work out the best for me in the end.”
“Juniors played a pivotal role in my commitment to Army because it gave me the confidence to keep dreaming and keep believing in myself and the talents I've been blessed with,” he said. “It has brought my game to a new level. I feel like I've been improving since my sophomore year of high school and juniors has solidified my belief that I can compete at whatever level I am called."
“The coaching staffs have been tremendous in providing me with the chance to succeed and their experience and knowledge has helped me to improve both mentally and physically. Without the opportunity to play juniors I wouldn't be playing at the level I am now, so it has set me up to continue getting better once I start playing for Army next year.”
Gahagen’s announcement is the second this week by the Jr. Sabres regarding college commitments. On Monday, the team confirmed that defenceman and team captain Derek Patterson (Calgary, Alberta) will enroll at SUNY Plattsburgh this fall. Also confirmed to begin studies and hockey later this year are forward Josh Kielich (Orchard Park, NY – Canisius College) and defenseman Darrin Trebes (Williamsville, NY – SUNY Fredonia). Forward Nolan Sheeran (East Amherst, NY) will enroll at Canisius beginning in 2014-15. Additional college commitments are anticipated in the near future.
Congratulations to Parker and best of luck as he closes out his OJHL career!
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)