Maine Nordiques goalie Ansel “Gus” Holt recently committed to play Division I hockey for the Army starting in the 2022-23 season. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Maine Nordiques Prep Academy U18 goaltender Ansel “Gus” Holt is already looking beyond his hockey career during his college recruitment process.

Last week he made his choice and has verbally committed to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York to play for Army starting in the 2022-23 season. The Black Knights play in the Division I Atlantic Hockey conference.

“It was more so for obviously my hockey career and along with that, it’s an opportunity to get a great education from a school most people don’t get to go to,” Holt said.

Holt becomes the second player on the U18 team to be committed to a Division I school. Jack Kurrle, who signed a tender with Maine Nordiques Tier II North American Hockey League junior team this past spring, is committed to Vermont, but made the commitment prior to joining the organization.

Holt, a 17-year-old from Sylvania, Ohio, is looking to major in Business Administration. He doesn’t have any family that served in the Army, but Holt’s father did serve in the Navy.

U18 coach Nick Skerlick likes that Holt is looking toward the future beyond hockey in his search for a school.

“We are excited about the process of sending a player Division I, but the overall feeling is that was Gus’ dream school. That’s the most exciting, is the life choice he’s going to make to go to West Point not just to play hockey, but that’s what he wants to do,” Skerlick said. “He’s deserving of the opportunity of going to West Point in what they provide on and off the ice.”

Holt is having an outstanding season for the U18 team, as he’s 12-1 on the season with a 1.25 goals-against-average and a .948 save percentage.

“When you have a goalie stopping (94) percent of his shots and giving up (a little more than a goal) a game, you feel good having a chance to win every night,” Skerlick said. “I think what’s been a (most impressive) part of Gus’ game is to play a top-10 team one night, and win 2-1, and play a team that’s not a top-10 team, he sees nine shots, two shots every 10 minutes, and he still stops the puck.”

It was an interesting college recruitment process for Holt, who said the process began in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the talks with Army began in the summer.

For obvious reasons, Holt wasn’t able to visit the the U.S. Military Academy campus 75 minutes north of New York City.

“The hardest part for me is I couldn’t interact with them in person because the rules they had, that was obviously difficult,” Holt said. “Obviously like Zoom and phone (calls), it made it a lot easier to communicate. I could see the schools and I had an extensive conversation with them. They showed me everything I needed without going there.”

Skerlick also reached out to the Army coaching staff, including head coach Brian Riley, this season about Holt’s strong start.

Holt came to the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy as a highly-touted goaltender, as he was drafted in the Tier-I United States Hockey League by the Youngstown Phantoms in 2019.

Also in 2019, he was drafted in the Ontario Hockey League in the fifth round by the Barrie Colts. The OHL is one of the three leagues under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella, which includes the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Playing in the CHL forfeits a player’s NCAA eligibility.

Holt, who has been coached by Skerlick since he was 14, said Maine was the best opportunity for him to play this season.

“This was the best opportunity I had available. It’s a great group of guys, I knew coach Skerlick before I came here and he would take care of me,” Holt said.

Holt also took part in the Maine Nordiques’ North American Hockey League squad’s team training and main camps this summer. Skerlick believes Holt may be able to make the jump to the NAHL team at some point this season or next season.

Holt is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound goaltender who models his game after Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, who won the Vezina Trophy this past season as the NHL’s best goalie.

“I like to try to use my size but I can play a little more athletically,” Holt said. “I try to mix my styles a bit and I like to watch Connor Hellebuyck. I like to model may game off of him. We share a similar style.”

GAULIN NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Maine Nordiques forward Tyler Gaulin was named the North American Hockey League’s East Division Player of the Week.

The 18-year-old Kingston, New Hampshire had a goal and an assist for the Nordiques in both games against the Northeast Generals this weekend. The Nordiques won 6-2 on Friday night and held onto a 3-2 win on Saturday night.

Forward Jack Strauss was also named an honorable mention, with a goal in each game this weekend.


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