The Johnstown Tomahawks announced today that defenseman Jesse Kessler has been traded to the Minnesota Wilderness in exchange for future assets.
Kessler, in his final year of junior eligibility, has played 16 games with the Tomahawks this season, with two assists. He has been a key member of the Tomahawks’ defensive corps since the start of the 2012-13 season, playing 77 total career games with Johnstown.
“We are thankful for the time Jesse has spent here,” Tomahawks General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations Rick Boyd said. “We know the fans appreciated the efforts he put forth on the ice, as did everyone in the Tomahawks organization.
“With the recruiting we did in the offseason, we found ourselves very strong defensively, which put us in position to move a player of his caliber,” Boyd said. “Acquiring tenders and assets is very valuable when trying to improve our team down the stretch.”
Kessler said he will miss the city of Johnstown and playing for the Tomahawks.
“It’s unfortunate that I have to leave, but that’s the nature of the game. That’s hockey,” said Kessler, who thanked the Tomahawks organization and Johnstown’s fans for their support during his tenure in Johnstown. “It’s sad to leave Johnstown,” he said. “I really found a home here. I love the people, the town, and the city. It’s been a great year-and-a-half of my life.”
Kessler also extended his appreciation to the Tomahawks ownership, Boyd, head coach Jason Spence, and assistant coach Mike Letizia.
“They’ve all been very good to me,” he said. “I wish I could shake the hands of everyone in the ownership group for all they’ve done for me.”
He also thanked his billet family, Mic and Cathy Lohr.
“They have been unbelievable billets. They’re people I will talk to for the rest of my life.”
In Minnesota, Kessler will be reunited with the coaching staff he played for with the Alaska Avalanche during his rookie NAHL season in 2011-12. He will also be re-united with former Tomahawks teammate Jaycob McCombs.
“It’s going to hurt for a bit, but I’ve got to get excited about this new opportunity. I have more hockey to play.”
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)