(Spruce Grove, AB) ?The Spruce Grove Saints are proud to announce that 2002 born forward Nik Hong has signed a letter of intent for the 2020-2021 season.
Hong who calls Minneapolis, Minnesota his home, comes to the Saints from the highly regarded Shattuck St.Mary?s hockey program located in Fairibault, Minnesota. Notable Shattuck alumni include Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Nathan Mackinnon, who all spent time developing there before becoming NHL superstars.
The soon to be 18 -year-old posted 34 points in 46 United States High School Prep league (USHS-Prep) games, compiling 13 goals and 21 assists and 18 penalty minutes over the course of the 2019-20 season.
Adding a player from one of the top Midget programs in North America is a huge development for the Saints in General Manager Rob Sklaruk eyes.
?As the AJHL grows, more teams are recruiting across the boarder. To land a player like Nik from a program like Shattuck St.Mary?s is extremely exciting for our organization.? Sklaruk remarked. ?Through the recruitment process of Nik we have built a strong relationship with head coach Ben Umhoefer at Shattuck. We hope Nik is the first of many Shattuck alumni to join the Saints in the future.?
Sklaruk then proceeded to rave about the newest Saint in Nik Hong.
?Nik is a creative forward that thrives in elite environments. Plain and simple he will elevate the play and production of those who he plays with. He processes the game quickly and knows where he needs to be and where the puck is going before it gets there.? Noted a gleeful Sklaruk.
?Nik is in no way one dimensional though. It?s cliché but he really is a 200 ft. player. He will be relied upon to jump in and play meaningful minutes on both sides of the puck in all three zones, which is something he has shown to excel at already.? Exclaimed Sklaruk.
?It?s been a pleasure to get to know Nik as a person. He?s a bright, mature young man who has enjoyed a lot of life experiences at a young age, making him an impressive person to speak with. We are thrilled he has chosen the Saints. We cannot wait to see him on the Grant Fuhr ice this fall.? Sklaruk finished.
Head Coach Bram Stephen believes Hong could make an immediate impact with the Saints.
?Our coaching group is looking forward to working with Nik. He?s a very cerebral and skilled player that skates very well. He makes the game easier for those he plays with due to his elite sense and skill.? Stated Stephen.
The now 4th year bench boss of the Saints then continued to break down the right shooting forward.
?He?s (Hong) a synergistic player that has the ability to create offense in a multitude of ways but also a guy that can score when the opportunity is on his stick. Nik comes from a distinguished program at Shattuck that has lots of structure and demands excellence from their players. We feel he will find a very familiar style of play and culture with the Saints. Because of his talent and hockey IQ we expect Nik will transition seamlessly into our program and become a key contributor to the team upon his arrival.? Stephen concluded.
Hong?s passport reads American, however due to his parent professional careers he spent parts of his life abroad, most notably in the UK and Russia before settling in Minnesota. Due to this, Hing presented himself as mature beyond his years when speaking about his commitment to the Saints, the opportunity to have a new cultural experience in moving north of the boarder and breakdown of his game.
?I chose to sign with Spruce Grove because I believe they have a great culture centered around development and winning.? Said the 5?11? 181 pound natural center.
?My number one objective when selecting a team for juniors was finding a place where I can develop and become a D1 hockey player and Spruce fit that perfectly for me. The coaching staff seems very professional and they have had great success in the past which excites me.? Hong continued.
?I would describe myself as a very smart, dependable, and hardworking player who is good in all three zones. I feel like my IQ and speed is what allows me to create in the offensive zone without sacrificing anything in the D zone.? Stated Hong
And finally, a few words on making the decision to add another country to the growing list of places Hong has lived.
?Obviously Edmonton is a great city and hockey community so I?m excited to experience what it has to offer. I?ve been fortunate enough to live in three countries (England, Russia, and America) so getting the chance to experience Canada and play hockey in Spruce Grove is something that I?m really looking forward too.? Hong finished.
The entire Saints organization would like to welcome Nik and his family to the team