The Wildcats return for the 2020/21 season with half of their leadership group still intact: team captain, Anthony Cusanelli (SR – FWD) and alternate captain, Bayley Marshall (SR –FWD). Due to the departure of graduating seniors, Manny Rowe and Chris Westlund, a new wave of leadership was bound to be on the horizon.
As we head into the 2020/21 season, the Wildcats are proud to announce that Junior Defensemen, Matthew Hohl and Senior forward Alex Johanson will be stepping into that role!
#13 Matthew Hohl 6’3” 205 lbs. Fenton, MO Junior Defensemen
To no surprise of his peers, Matthew Hohl, from Fenton, MO., had a breakout season. As a Sophomore, Hohl was able to quarterback the number one power play on a top-ten team and command top minutes as the teams number one defensemen.
Hohl is known as an incredibly smooth skater with advanced vision and natural offensive instincts. He has a unique ability to use his long reach to take away time and space, causing the opposition to turn pucks over. Once the puck is on his stick he's able to play to his strengths, advancing pucks quickly in transition and making the players around him better.
Hohl came to the Wildcats along with his longtime defensive partner, Ben Jones, after losing a heartbreaker in overtime during the NA3HL National Championship game with the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
“I am really proud to watch his personal development, beyond the rink,” said coach Berman. “There are a lot of things to adjust to when you come to a college campus and it was a difficult transition there for a bit. That’s where he showed his true character and determination. Once he got beyond that, everything else has came easy.”
“Just talking with him over the summer I could hear it in his voice just how bad he wants to get to that next level. He has already put on over 20 pounds, and to me, that speaks volumes of his ability to lead by example. We are a program that strives to win a National Championship. That’s a really hard thing to accomplish but anything worth doing is supposed to be hard. So to accomplish something extraordinary it requires extraordinary effort. When his teammates see him step on campus in great shape that immediately sets the tone and expectations for the season, far beyond any message I could send.”
#28 Alex Johanson 6’1” 200 lbs. Skokie, IL Senior Forward
Alex Johanson transferred to the University of Arizona last season after two strong seasons at NCAA DIII Trine University - producing 20 points in 46 games played. Before college, Johanson tallied 92 points with the El Paso Rhinos (WSHL) and 72 Points with the Atlanta Capitals (NA3HL).
But it’s HOW he produces that makes him so effective.
Johanson’s game thrives in the difficult areas of the ice. He is great in the corners, loves to attack from below the goal line, and is lethal with tips in front of the net.
Johanson’s talent and experience allowed him to step in and make an immediate impact to an already highly successful team. He games thrives in around the net, especially where he makes his presence felt creating power play traffic in front of the net. He was one of the top face-off percentage guys on the team, brings an edge of intensity with his game, and was willing to put his body in front of pucks for the good of the team.
Plain and simple, Johanson does the thing to make his teammates around him better. In a word, that’s called leadership.
“When we got Josi I knew we were getting more than a good hockey player,” said coach Berman. “I knew we were getting a winner. When we are recruiting a player here it is really important to me that they hate to lose as much as I do - Josi fits that bill perfectly. He brings that mentality and competitive edge to the rink every day, which is impossible not to rub off on your teammates. It’s will and determination that separates teams in the playoffs, so you cant have enough guys like Josi.”
“At the time I was recruiting him he was exactly what we were looking for. We had a really skilled team the prior year with top-end speed but Liberty University exposed some things in the National Tournament that we clearly needed to address. We needed to get tougher and win more battles. We needed to be tougher to play against. Josi was exactly what we needed and I look forward to see what impact he can continue to make in his second year as a Wildcat.”