Three members of the Lockport Express have made their college commitments to Niagara University and that college’s ACHA Hockey program. Goalie Sam Fitzpatrick, and Defensemen Gibson Stuart and Pavel Kovtunov will be joining the hockey team for its next season. The three were recruited by Nate Miller who had much to say about his new team members.
“Fitzy is a goaltender that came across our radar last season, since he was already planning on attending Niagara. He made the decision to go back and play for Lockport this year after playing 8 games last year. Fitzy is a goaltender that can hold teams in games. He has a save percentage of .911, and he’s seeing 40 or 50 shots a night. His technique is solid, and he doesn’t let stuff get in his head, which is really important in a goaltender. Above all, Fitzy is an excellent student and teammate, and the NU ACHA team will be lucky to have him in the locker room for four years.”
Head coach Frank Vecchio added, “Fitz joined us in January of last year and was a big reason we made the playoffs. He is a steadying force in goal and a quality person. He will be a huge asset for Niagara and we certainly wish him the best.”
Pavel “Pash” Kovtunov:
“He is a solid two-way player who can control the tempo of the game and is very vocal on the ice. He has a great sense of humor, brings a lot to the locker room chemistry, and is an absolute punisher on the ice. Pash can play forward or defense, and is the type of player who will make very few mistakes. His strong defensive game and hard shot from the point make him an asset to any special teams situation. We’re happy to finally have him on board, after almost two years of trying to get him!”
“We have tried for a few years now to get Pash to join our program and we finally landed him this year. Niagara is not only getting a big, strong leader on and off the ice but he is one of the highest quality young men I have ever been around. We wish Pash continued success,” said Vecchio.
“Like Pash, Gibby Stuart is a player who has been on the radar at NU for a little bit of time. Gibby has been a prominent leader in the Express locker room, and has served as a captain for the team. He also has the franchise record for most games played (116), showing his commitment and dedication to his team. Gibby is a stay-at-home defenseman who is not afraid to get involved in protection of his goaltender. He is calm and even-tempered with or without the puck, and has a quiet confidence that earns the respect of teammates, coaches, officials, and even opponents,” Miller stated.
Vecchio continued, “Gibby joined us at the inception of our program and has been nothing short of one of the best players and human beings I have ever met. He leads by example, is an outstanding teammate and a tough, clean player who respects the game and all it has to offer immensely. Niagara is getting a gem of a player and person in Gibby. We will miss him but of course wish him nothing but the best!”
Former Express players, Christopher Gasiewicz and Frank Vecchio II, currently play for the ACHA Men’s Hockey team at Niagara University.