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WLC NEWS

Little Caps join the Tier-1 Elite Hockey League

By WLC Staff 03/03/2022, 11:01am EST

The Washington Little Capitals are pleased to announce that the Club has been accepted into the Tier-I Elite Hockey League for the 2022-23 Season.  Comprised of many fellow NHL-branded teams, along with traditional Midwest Powerhouses, the T1EHL will provide a stern test for all seven Little Caps teams next season.

“This is a big deal for our players and families,” states Executive Director Doug Plocki.  “It adds a second, hugely-competitive aspect to our season, along with the extra exposure our players deserve.”

"The Tier 1 Elite League is the top nationwide showcase circuit in the nation,” says Hockey Director Matt Thomas.  “Membership means we can better canvas the nation, and add new, quality exposure events in major Midwest Jr/NCAA hubs.  This is an exciting new challenge and opportunity for Little Cap players."

WLC Midget Teams will compete in five league events (3 league-wide showcases, 1 regional event, and playoffs).  Our Bantams will participate in three (2 showcases plus playoffs), and our Peewees in two.  The T1EHL is thus an ideal complement to our AYHL schedule – all WLC teams will have a rigorous non-league schedule, balanced and predictable travel, and will remain at ideal game counts to keep our focus on player development. 

“The T1EHL is an ideal match because it is extremely competitive and well organized, and offers our players the chance to compete with some of the best players in the country as part of their development.”    

“But this is about more than just hockey,” Plocki says, “we feel that many of the current T1EHL clubs represent the same ideals we do in terms of developing great hockey players and preparing them for the next level, but also equipping young men and women for success off the ice as well.  It’s a privilege to join this league.”

“This demonstrates our commitment to developing and advancing our players,” says Thomas, “and shows our organizational commitment – from the WLC Board down to each of our coaches - to pursuing the top competition in America.”

“The WLC is delighted to be a partner in the T1EHL,” adds Club Owner Ande Grennan.  “This will add a national competitive platform for the Club that will be commensurate with the AYHL as well as being able to provide our players more exposure throughout the US.”

You can find more details on the T1EHL here: https://tier1elitehockeyleague.com


Interested in learning more about the Little Caps?  Check us out here: https://www.washingtonlittlecapitals.com

2022-23 Staff: Peewee Minor Head Coach Lyon Messier

By WLC Staff 03/03/2022, 11:00am EST

The Little Caps are pleased to announce that Director of Player Development Lyon Messier will coach the Peewee Minor (2011) for 2022-23 season.

Messier grew up in the Washington area and played youth hockey with the Northern Virginia Ice Dogs and the Little Caps.  He then played junior hockey for the Texas Tornado in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), where he won a national championship, and later with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He played major junior hockey in Canada for the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) and Erie Otters (OHL), before moving on to play pro hockey for the New Mexico Scorpions of the Central Hockey League (CHL).  He was invited to the New York Rangers main camp, played an AHL game, and then went to the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) where he won the Kelly Cup with the South Carolina Stingrays. "I feel confident my experience can help our players,” Messier says.  

Messier is also the owner and operator of the Messier Selects program, providing spring and summer training and showcase opportunities for area players.

Hockey Director Matt Thomas doesn't mince words in his praise of Messier, saying "Lyon is a true professional-- you can see his respect and passion for the game in how he prepares and goes about his business. For a kid in this area still learning about the skills, tactics, and mindset of high-level hockey, I can't think of a better Head Coach than him."

The Little Caps are pleased to announce that Craig Desjarlais will return to serve as Head Coach of the PeeWee Major (2010) squad for the 2022-23 season.

This past season, Coach Desjarlais led the 2010 team to the AYHL Playoffs Championship game.

Craig is a hockey lifer.  Born and raised in Canada, he worked his way up through the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League before departing Canada for the United States.  He was a four-year letter winner at Bowling Green State University (NCAA Div. I), where he graduated with a degree in Business Communications. Craig then pursued a 5-year professional career with the New Orleans Brass (ECHL), Toledo Storm (ECHL), and Knoxville Icebears (SPHL).  Craig was named to Knoxville’s All-Time Franchise Team in 2012.

Following his pro career, Craig launched a successful business in Loudoun County, and 15 years on remains President and CEO of that organization.  And he has continued his hockey career as well, building a wealth of experience he now brings to the Little Caps. Craig has over 20 years of experience combining coaching and instruction at some of the most established and successful hockey teaching academies in North America.  He has worked as Head Instructor at both the Huron and Turcotte hockey schools, as well as working with youth hockey programs at Bowling Green and Knoxville. He has served as Mid-Atlantic Region scout for the Boston Bandits (USPHL – NCDC). More recently he has turned his efforts to youth hockey in Virginia and Maryland, coaching nearly every level from Mite to Midget, including several trips to USA Hockey National Championships.

“Craig did a terrific job leading the 2010 squad last season,” says Hockey Director Matt Thomas. “This group will remain in excellent hands as they look to build on a great first season of AAA hockey.”

2022-23 Staff: Bantam Minor Head Coach Brad Kostrzebski

By WLC Staff 03/01/2022, 11:00am EST

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Brad Kostrzebski will serve as Head Coach of the Bantam Minor (2009) for the 2022-23 season.

Brad Kostrzebski grew up in the Washington area playing for the Prince William Panthers and Washington Little Caps youth programs. He then played junior hockey for the Potomac Patriots and won a state championship with Woodbridge High School. He played college hockey at Christopher Newport university, winning two Blue Ridge Hockey Conference Championships. After getting into coaching with Pro Ambitions summer clinics he spent 1 year coaching U16 AA for the Patriots and 2 years with the Little Caps. Brad also coaches for the Messier Selects Spring program.  

"Brad joins a strong wave of young, local alumni who are returning to contribute to the club," says Hockey Director Matt Thomas. "I'm very pleased with what I've seen from him the past two years-- he's organized, disciplined, committed, and he's extremely hungry to get to work with the 2009's."

2022-23 Staff: Bantam Major Head Coach Bryan Reel

By WLC Staff 02/28/2022, 11:00am EST

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Bryan Reel will return to serve as Head Coach of the Bantam Major (2008) for the 2022-23 season.

A Pittsburgh native, Coach Reel played for the North Pittsburgh Wildcats and attended Penn State University. Prior to this season with the Little Caps, he coached squirts, peewees, and bantams locally in the Ashburn Xtreme program, accumulating 4 CBHL Regular Season Championships, 3 CBHL Playoff Championships, 2 VA State Championships, and a trip to the USAH Nationals. Coach Reel is a level 4 certified USA Hockey coach.

“Coach Reel really hit the ground running with the 2007's this season,” says Hockey Director Matt Thomas. “I’ve been extremely impressed with his developmental vision and how it aligns with our club model—the ’08 group is going to be in excellent hands next season.”

2022-23 Staff: 15U Midget Head Coach Joakim Karlsson

By WLC Staff 02/27/2022, 11:00am EST

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Joakim Karlsson will serve as Head Coach of the 15U Midget Team for the 2022-23 season.

Coach Karlsson grew up in Koping, Sweden, and played youth hockey in his hometown until he was 15 when he moved to play Junior A. Repeated knee injuries derailed a promising professional career, though he did get healthy enough to resume play in lower leagues for a few years. Karlsson was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and moved to coaching full-time at age 23.

Joakim coached a few years in his hometown-- youth, junior and lower minor-- before his promotion to Leksands IF where he led the U16 team and served as Hockey Director. Karlsson coached the Leksands IF team to a bronze medal in the national championship. Many of his former players have gone on to have great success; NHL draft picks, North American and Swedish professionals, NCAA players, and junior players across North America.

Joakim resides in Hagerstown with his wife, Linda, and his sons Jack and Lucas.

"We're extremely lucky to have a coach as accomplished and passionate as Joakim," says Hockey Director Matt Thomas. "In order to keep our players at the cutting edge of development, the Little Caps are always trying to embrace new methods and philosophies... and Joakim has been on the factory floor with two world-renowned programs -- Leksands and Sweden.”

2022-23 Staff: 16U Midget Head Coach Alex Guerere

By WLC Staff 02/26/2022, 11:00am EST

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Alex Guerere will return as Head Coach of the 16U Midget Team for the 2022-23 season.

Prior to this season with the WLC 15u squad, Coach Guerere spent the past four seasons with the Ashburn Xtreme club, earning numerous accolades: EJEPL Championships, CBHL Regular Season and Playoff Championships, and National Tournament appearances. In addition to working with the Xtreme, Coach Guerere worked with Bishop O’Connell and ColdRush.

As a player, Coach Guerere played for both the Washington Little Caps and Washington Jr Nationals prior to attending the University of Delaware, where he played for the ACHA Division 1 team. 

“Alex has been everything we'd hoped for with the 15u squad this season.” says Hockey Director Matt Thomas. “There’s just a lot to love about him-- he’s passionate, accomplished, driven, and he’s lived it all himself as a Little Caps alumni… we’re thrilled to have him leading the 2006's again next season.”

2022-23 Staff: 18U Midget Head Coach Josh Beck

By WLC Staff 02/25/2022, 3:00pm EST

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Joshua Beck will return as Head Coach of the 18U Midget Team for the 2022-23 season. 

Originally from Scituate, Massachusetts, Beck played youth hockey for the Bay State Breakers. He then played junior hockey for the Seacoast Spartans Prep where he led the team in points. After the Spartans, he attended and played for Babson College (NCAA DIII) Program. Beck graduated from Babson College in 2020 with a degree in Business & Entrepreneurship. In 2017, Beck represented Team USA for the 20th Maccabi Games in Jerusalem, Israel, and won the Silver Medal.  

“Josh is precisely as advertised—sharp, organized, and high energy,” says Coach Thomas. “He’s done remarkable things in developing his players the past couple seasons, and I’m excited to see what he can do next year.”

In addition to his Little Caps duties, Coach Beck is also a Regional Scout for Spruce Grove Saints, Jr. A Hockey Club of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Duante Abercrombie will serve as Director of Player Achievement for the 2022-23 season.

Abercrombie is an alumnus of Gonzaga College High School (Class of 2005), where he helped Gonzaga win 4 MSHL/ MAPHL Championships, multiple Purple Puck Championships, and numerous games over nationally ranked prep school programs, as a player (2001- 2005) and a coach (2008- 2013).  He also coached at Georgetown Preparatory School, and in his first year, he helped lead his team to its first IAC Championship.

Coach Abercrombie is currently the Volunteer Assistant with the Stevenson Mustangs (NCAA D-III).

Additionally, Duante is part of the Phoenix Coyotes Coaching Internship Program (read more here).

Hockey has taken Abercrombie around the world.  He has trained throughout the United States and Canada, and has played parts of three professional seasons in Auckland, New Zealand, Pittsburgh, PA, and Brewster, NY.   He has been the senior instructor with his mentor Graeme Townshend’s (former NHL player and coach) hockey school for the past 4 years. He was personally responsible for the on ice development and off ice video work of players already drafted to the NHL and currently playing NCAA Division 1. He has trained with some of the top stars in the NHL, and he has personally trained numerous AAA, Prep, Junior, NCAA, and Pro players.  It was during this time training at BTNL (Oakville, Ontario) and Twist (Whitby, Ontario) that he developed an appreciation for skill development. 

You can read more about Coach Abercrombie here.

The Little Caps are pleased to announce Ryan Yoon will continue to serve as Associate Director of Player Development for the 2022-23 season. 

This will be Yoon's sixth year with the club; in addition, Yoon serves as the Director of Marketing.

Yoon brings a wealth of overall coaching experience to the Little Caps, which, combined with his natural energy and enthusiasm for teaching, has made him a highly versatile asset for the club. 

In addition to coaching youth clubs in Korea, Yoon has been coaching youth hockey in the area for the past three years with the Little Caps and Medstar's Caps Hockey Academy.  He is a proud product of the local hockey market, having played youth hockey for the Reston Raiders, and junior hockey for the Potomac Patriots before moving on to play professionally in Korea in the KIHL.  He returned to this area in 2016 eager to give back to the hockey community.  He excels at teaching young players solid fundamentals, and his energetic and positive personality instills passion in his players.

Hockey Director Matt Thomas sees Yoon as a big piece of the Little Caps plans moving forward. "Ryan's passion and enthusiasm is remarkable. He's really taken to heart the commitment we've made to practicing hard, daily."

Yoon is a Level-4 certified USA Hockey coach.