48 in 24 Series: Toledo Cherokee
August 31, 2016
The 48 in 24 series will feature an in-depth look into all 48 teams in the NA3HL for the 2016-17 season, with new teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 48 in 24 goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 48 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2016-17 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2015-16 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 48 in 24 will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2015-16 Record: 31-14-2, 64 pts. (2nd in East Division)
2016 Playoffs: Lost in the East Semi-Finals to West Michigan, 2 games to 0
Head Coach: Ken Miller
2016-17 Division: East
Although unable to carry their regular season success into the offseason, Head Coach Ken Miller looks back at the 2015-16 season as a solid one for the Toledo Cherokee. The team went 18-5-1 while at home, and 13-9-1 while on the road. Miller hopes to carry the success of the 2015-16 regular season into the upcoming season, and hopefully the 2017 playoffs.
Ken Miller took over as Head Coach in October 2013, and helped lead the Cherokee to the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season that year. He was also named head coach of the NAHL Toledo IceDiggers in 2005, where he spent five seasons. In the 2006-07 season, Miller was named NAHL General Manager of the Year after winning a franchise high 37 games.
Coach Miller and his crew are excited about the growth of the NA3HL, and Miller notes that, “the league office has done a good job of identifying other junior leagues that would fit in the NAHL umbrella.” This addition allows players to be seen on a more national level, allowing greater opportunities for advancing players.
In the most recent season, the Toledo Cherokee produced five ACHA Division I commitments in Nick Papandrea at Indiana Tech, Isaiah Crawford at Mercyhurst University, and David Bogart, Josh Somers, and Austin Turner, who will be attending Eastern Michigan.
As for this season, the Cherokee have their sights on the NCAA. Senior, 1996 birth-year players hope to play DIII hockey next year, and Coach Miller agrees. “It will be our job as coaching staff to promote these players to the colleges they would like to attend.” As for the younger players, they are hungry for the NAHL and Miller promises that, “we will be in contact with coaches in that league to make sure our players are being recognized at that level.”
Miller foresees a strong, well-versed group of 11 veterans to lead the team, both as players and as individuals. He says the new players are “excited about playing in Toledo and learning from the older guys.”
With returning goaltender Jeremy Hamerquist, leading scorer Ricky Kwapich, and a skilled roster of veterans and returners, Coach Miller and his staff behind the bench expect to have a successful season. In addition to producing talented, well rounded players, Coach Miller wants to “make sure when they leave our program they are even better young men.”
In addition to working with youth programs in the Toledo area, the Cherokee players work with an organization called “Paws and Friends,” assisting with an annual fundraiser.
The Cherokee kick off their season with a double header against the Wooster Oilers on September 9th and 10th. The first game will be held at 7:45 PM at Wooster, and the second will be home for the Cherokees, with puck drop at 8:30 PM.
Next in the 48 in 24 series: West Michigan Wolves