JANESVILLE, WI – The Janesville Jets have completed a trade with the Central Division’s Minot Minotauros, announced Jets Head Coach and General Manager Gary Shuchuk Tuesday.
The Jets acquired veteran forward Austin Koss (5-11/198) in exchange for a conditional 2019 NAHL Draft Pick.
Koss will wear #9 for the Jets.
“Janesville’s known for being a great team and having great players,” said Koss. “Being able to enjoy my last year of junior hockey with a great team like Janesville is awesome because in hockey it’s always about the team.”
In 80 career games for the Minotauros, Koss has registered 10 goals and six assists on 16 points. He skated in 11 of 12 games in last spring’s magical playoff run for Minot, in which the 4th-seeded Minotauros knocked off the Aberdeen Wings and Austin Bruins en route to the Robertson Cup Final Four. There, the Minotauros upset the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in a thrilling three-game set before losing a heartbreaking final to the Shreveport Mudbugs.
Though Koss scored just one goal in that playoff run, it probably wouldn’t have come together without him, said Shuchuk.
“He’s kind of like Tanner [Polglaze],” Shuchuk said. “He plays hard and leads by example on the ice. [Minot Head Coach] Marty [Murray] didn’t really want to let him go, but Austin seemed to need or want a little change of scenery. I’ve known Marty a while, so when he thought of us right away I appreciated that.”
Koss immediately becomes Janesville’s second-oldest player, born January 26, 1998, just 15 days after forward Jack Vincent. The Jets expect Koss to help the Jets’ leadership group guide the younger players, Shuchuk said.
“I’m looking forward to having Austin because I think he might be the piece we’re missing,” said the second-year bench boss. “Tanner was a big part of our team last year and maybe Austin could be that kind of guy.”
Jets goaltender Garrett Nieto also likened the newcomer to Polglaze. Koss and Nieto grew up together in southern California, where they played with each other from youth hockey with the California Wave to AAA with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program. Koss captained the 2014-15 Jr. Kings team, their last together in U16.
“When I think about his game he reminds me of T.J. Polglaze,” Nieto said. “He’s that hard-working guy with a little skill, too. He’s willing to do anything to get the puck. He’ll block shots and he wants to go to the hard areas. Right now he’s one of the more complete players in the NAHL and that’s what we need.”
Koss identified the Jets’ community outreach efforts, known throughout the NAHL, as something he’s particularly excited to join.
“I like making people happy,” Koss said. “Nothing is better than putting a smile on a kid’s face. Minot as an organization does a great job of that. In Minot we had an honorary captain named Aaron Bliven, a kid born with cerebral palsy, and he was just the best kid to interact with and it made you realize how big the game can be. Making connections and engaging with people in the community just makes it bigger than hockey. It’s pretty special that hockey has the ability to do that.”
Koss will join the Jets for practice on Tuesday, and just three days later could suit up in his home white jersey when Janesville hosts the Chippewa Steel in the first edition of the rebooted Battle of Wisconsin.