Agostino came back to New Jersey this past fall to play with Yale in the Liberty Hockey Tournament held at Prudential Center. (Photo / Getty Images)
Every young hockey player grows up dreaming of making it into the NHL and for Morristown, New Jersey native, Kenny Agostino that dream has officially come true.
Agostino, the former Yale Bulldog and member of the Delbarton Green Wave officially signed with the Flames Monday, following Yale’s elimination from the ECAC tournament. The two-year, entry-level contract has been a long time in the making for the skilled forward.
After winning the NCAA Frozen Four Championship in his junior year, Agostino made the decision to return to Yale for his senior season before committing to an NHL contract.
“This is just a tribute to his hard work and determination to get better every year,” said his former coach at Delbarton, Bruce Shatel. “I think that was one of the factors that contributed towards him finishing at Yale. He believed in himself. He loves playing for Yale University and the value of a degree at Yale was something that attributed to him to go back for his final year.”
|After winning the NCAA Championship in 2013, Agostino made the decision to return to Yale for his final year. (Photo / Getty Images) |
Agostino finished his senior season with 14 goals and 18 assists over 32 games, contributing to his 132 point total throughout 134 games as a Bulldog.
Not only was he a standout player in New Haven, but his talents shone brightly while also donning a Delbarton jersey. Agostino’s illustrious high school career began as a freshman on the varsity team and ended with him holding scoring records that won’t easily be broken.
“When he came in as a freshman he was 5-foot, 125 pounds and I remember walking out of Mennen Arena after a summer camp, and I told him we were going to be patient and not put him in a situation that would not be healthy for him as a freshman because he was so undersized,” Shatel recalled. “I was on the ice with him more and more, and his ability to make plays, even at such an early age, was so advanced that we took him on our varsity team and played him on one of our top lines as a freshman.”
He has since grown into a powerful 6-foot-1, 200-pound winger, but in high school he proved that size wasn’t an issue. Not only was he a part of the Delbarton championship dynasty, winning multiple NJSIAA titles, but he also graduated as the school’s all-time leading point scorer. With 50 goals and 83 points in his final year at Delbarton, Agostino was already making a name for himself before making it to Keith Allain’s squad.
|Before winning the Frozen Four with Yale, Agostino was winning championships with his high school team, the Delbarton Green Wave. (Photo / Prudential Center) |
“For a player to score 50 goals with the schedule that we play, it’s probably a record that will never be touched. He just had a remarkable career at Delbarton. Besides all the points he was able to put up, he made the people around him that much better and he was a great leader,” Shatel said about his former player. “… I was blessed to have several outstanding players move on to Division I, but I can honestly say that I haven’t come across a kid that often with that offensive ability, or seen that offensive ability in my 14-years at Delbarton.”
The odds of moving on to Division I hockey from high school are slim, and those numbers decrease as you move on to the minor leagues and NHL, but Agostino’s career has given New Jersey kids more reason to dream.
“We’ve had a couple other guys with opportunities to play at the minor level with the East Coast or AHL, but for Kenny to have the same opportunities that George Parros did is just terrific. It gives our kids that ability to dream and it’s not an unrealistic dream, as Kenny just proved to all of us.”
Agostino has been in the NHL system since being drafted in 2010 in the fifth round by the Penguins. Last year he was part of the major trade that sent Jarome Iginla out of Calgary and into Pittsburgh and now he’s finally getting his own shot.
“I had the opportunity to talk to him the other day when he finalized the deal … we always knew that this was a strong possibility that when he was done playing this year, he was going to go to Calgary, but I don’t think it ever really sank in. To hear in his voice, how happy he was at that moment, hit home with me and it was a very emotional phone call,” said Shatel. “I couldn’t be more proud as a coach and as someone who I consider a very close friend; I will be rooting for him on Friday night.”
Shatel won’t be alone; the entire New Jersey hockey community will certainly be paying more attention to the Flames when Agostino is there. While playing for Delbarton he competed for the NJSIAA championship at Prudential Center and recently returned to New Jersey this past fall with Yale to play in the Liberty Hockey Tournament and now it doesn’t seem unlikely to one day see him back at the Rock, this time skating against the Devils.
For more, head to NJ Youth Hockey Central.