The Louisiana IceGators added a pair of much-needed defensemen and picked up a former Ice Flyer Tuesday, as coach Drew Omicioli announces the re-signing of Casey Goll, the return of Nick Kuqali, and the acquisition of Jon Puskar from Pensacola. Today’s signings bring the IceGators training camp roster to 23 players, with camp beginning in October.
Casey Goll came to the IceGators last season after finishing up his collegiate career at Southern New Hampshire University (You’ve seen the commercials. Who knew they had a hockey team?) The 6’2″ defenseman played the last ten games of the regular season, picked up 20 penalty minutes and a +2 plus/minus rating. Coach Omicioli describes Goll as “a guy who can come in and be a shut-down style defenseman who can play with a mean streak.”
Returning to the IceGators is veteran blueliner Nick Kuqali, who started last season with Louisiana before moving to Huntsville, then getting some ECHL experience with Tanner Burton in Wheeling. The 6’3″ Dallas native was with the Mississippi Surge for three seasons before signing with the IceGators after the Surge ceased operations. Kuqali stayed active over the summer by playing in New Zealand. In addition to the veteran leadership Kuqali brings to the IceGators, Omicioli describes him as “a versatile defenseman who can play in all three zones and is known for his solid defensive presence in the d-zone.”
New to Cajun Country, but not new to the SPHL is center Jon Puskar. The left-shooting Michigan native split time with ECHL Cincinnati and Elmira (there’s that IceGators-Elmira connection again) before finishing up last season with the Pensacola Ice Flyers, scoring eight goals and seven assists in 31 games. The 5’11” Puskar plays with an edge, and is difficult to match up against. He scored two goals with an assist in seven games against the IceGators, and caught the eye of coach Omicioli, who remarked, “Jon was a player we hated playing against last year as he was a thorn in our side with any line he played on for Pensacola.”
Goll and Kuqali will give the IceGators a pair of big, stay-at-home standouts on the blue line, and should be on the opening night roster against the RiverKings on October 23rd. Puskar has plenty of competition to go up against in camp to earn a roster spot, and his hard-nosed style of play should give him a chance to get noticed by Omicioli in training camp. Puskar’s chance to make the team may increase if he can transition to the blue line, which given his playing style is a possibility.