Peter Kessel had high hopes entering the season after being selected by the Lone Star Brahmas in the eighth round on the NAHL Entry Draft. That was before he was sidelined with a knee injury after playing two games at the season opening NAHL Showcase Tournament.
The Brahmas were the first team to reach out to Kessel prior to the draft so he was aware that he was on their draft board. “When I was drafted I didn’t realize it because I was at a power skating session,” said Kessel. A friend of Peter’s had been checking the draft online and let him know that he had been picked by the Brahmas. “When I got back to my car I saw I had a missed call from Potter. I called him back right away and thanked him for believing in me and picking me in the draft.”
Growing up, Peter had to look no further than down the hall for a role model. “I’ve always looked up to my brother and I still do today,” Kessel said. “He’s played juniors and currently in college and has always been a great role model on and off the ice.” Will Kessel spent two seasons with the USHL Green Bay Gamblers, winning a Clark Cup Championship in 2010, before moving on to Western Michigan University where he won a CCHA Championship in 2012.
Keeping himself motivated, working his way back from the knee injury while watching his teammates building one of the best records in the NAHL was no different. Kessel again looked to his older brother. “My brother had surgery on his shoulder in back to back summers and continued to battle back, so I thought if he can do that I can recover from a far less severe injury and battle back.” Now that he has made his way back Peter says the knee is 100 percent, but he is still cautious with it.
“My first goal against Odessa was a huge weight off my shoulders,”
“Originally I planned on being one of the top point producers on my team,” he said. However, after watching over one third of the season unfold with him on the shelf he has had to adjust his expectations. “I’m changing my goal to the back half of the year to produce points, be a plus player, and do what it takes for the team to win.”
Now that he is back on the ice and had some time to adjust to the NAHL level, Kessel is starting to produce. ”I was surprised how little time you have with the puck before a defender jumps on you. I had to make everything from my feet to my mind quicker to adjust to the faster pace game.” His first point came on a goal in the closing moments of a home win against the Odessa Jackalopes. “My first goal against Odessa was a huge weight off my shoulders,” Kessel recalled. “It was eating away at me that I hadn’t been able to bury one. It didn’t matter that it came with 13.5 seconds left in the game. Now that it has happened I can breathe a little easier.” Kessel’s first multipoint game against Odessa as well with a goal and two assists. He pointed to line mates Quinn Carroll and Liam Stirtzinger for his big night. “Carroll and Stirtzinger helped give me some energy and made the game simple which helped a lot.”
Kessel said that he likes to model his game after the Toronto Maple Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk.” JVR is a real team first guy,” he said. “He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, he gets the puck deep, forechecks hard and tries to make the best of every chance given.” In van Riemsdyk Kessel sees a lot of the tools that he is developing as a big part of his own game. “He uses his speed and size to get, then protect the puck and set up plays. He is a very well rounded player that sets himself apart with a very impressive skill set in front of the net and his ability to get a shot off quickly in difficult situations.”
Being one of the youngest guys on the roster has been a motivator to Kessel.” There is a healthy compete level in all our practices to earn the chance to be in the lineup Friday and Saturday nights,” he said. In fact, he sees his age and rookie status as a plus. “Its an advantage being able to look up to so many vets, whenever I need help they are always there.”
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When asked what we can look forward to from him going forward, Kessel responded “Fans can expect a lot of energy coming from me in the second half, always trying to be an offensive threat as well as being responsible in the neutral and defensive zone, back checking, covering my man, blocking shots and always making the smart, right play.” With the example being set by the vets on the team and Peter’s drive, he will give Head Coach Dan Wildfong one more weapon in an already potent offensive attack.