Lone Star Brahmas’ rookie goalie Jake Kupsky has stormed into the NAHL with much the same success as the franchise’s last big netminder, Ben Bishop. The Waukeshaw, WI native at 6’ 5” is one inch shorter than Bishop was during his time with the Texas Tornado, both tipped the scales at 210 pounds. Their physical size is not where the comparison ends though as their on ice performances stack up closely as well. Bishop was 9 – 1 – 0 through 10 games in 2004 and finished with a 1.93 GAA and a .920 SV% while Kupsky’s current record stands at 8 – 1 – 1 with a 1.92 GAA and a .919 SV%. The biggest difference between Bishop and Kupsky is that Jake shares net minding duties with another very talented goalie in TJ Black where Bishop handled the majority of the load himself.
Jake is convinced that his physical size is an asset when he is between the pipes. “I feel like that helps me because I am athletic enough to move well and get out of the paint when I need to, but at the same time big enough to sit back, be patient and let the play come to me,” he said. One of the things that drew Kupsky to the goalie position was the fact that it was the only position that allowed him to be on the ice all the time. “Naturally, I always wanted to be out there.” He jokingly added, “plus as the gear evolved to what it is now, goalies have the coolest gear to wear so that really drew me to it also.”
“I like to be patient and let the play come to me but I also like to get out of my paint and be aggressive,” Kupsky said in describing his style of play. “I’ve always played that way because of my size. I really try to style my game after Carey Price.” Price was the first round selection of the Montreal Canadians in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and has nearly 200 wins since the start of the 2007 season.
The Brahmas’ staff got a good look at Kupsky during the Top Notch Hockey Showcase held at the NYTEX Sports Centre in May. Jake was invited to tryout camp and played his way into a roster spot. Kupsky had other opportunities, but liked what he saw with the franchise. “I felt like it was the best opportunity to win,” he said. “Coach Dan (Wildfong) really drew me in with how much passion he has about winning.”
Kupsky’s performance this season led the defending NCAA Div-I National Champions, Union College to sign him to a commitment for the 2015 season where he will compete with Junior Alex Sakellaropoulos for playing time.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kupsky told NAHL.com. “My whole life, my goal was to play Division I hockey and to achieve it with a school like Union, it is an amazing feeling I can’t put to words and I might not ever be able to.”
The Brahmas opened training camp in August a full month before the season kicked off giving Kupsky plenty of time to settle into his role. The practice time allowed him to adjust to the speed, talent and traffic in front of the net. Once the season opened at the NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Kupsky got off to a quick start winning two games in a pressure packed situation in front of numerous scouts. “I tend not to think too much about who is in the stands watching, so it was like normal hockey games for me,” he recalled. “It felt great to get off to a good start with those two wins, but I wouldn’t have gotten it done without the guys in front of me doing their job well too.”
Kupsky is currently third in the league in goals against average and ninth in save percentage. When asked if he expected such success when the season started he was humble in his response. “Honestly, no but it is hard not to do well with such a great team in front of me.” He went on to heap praise on the Brahmas faithful. “It is amazing to play in front of such great fans,” he said. “It is something you look forward to every home game!”