The Janesville Jets, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Keaton Peters has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Northern Michigan University Wildcats of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I feel incredibly honored to have the opportunity to play in such a great program like Northern Michigan,” Peters said. “I took my visit and fell in love with the campus; great scenery, great people, great coaches, it’s a great program overall, and I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity.”
A Sussex, Wis. native, Peters is in his first NAHL season with the Jets and has recorded a goal and an assist in his first ten games. His first goal of the year, against the Magicians on October 9, was the first goal of his junior hockey career. Previously, Peters skated in five seasons; three in the T1EHL (Tier 1 Elite Hockey League) and a year apiece in 15U and 16U AAA, with the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals ranging from 14U AAA to 16U AAA. In those five seasons, Peters accumulated 205 points (97-108) in 180 games.
“We are thrilled as an organization and as coaches for Keaton to head to as successful of a program that Northern Michigan is. We know Keaton and his family are extremely happy to head to a great, up-and-coming program at NMU. He’s a young kid and has a bright future ahead of him. We’re excited for Keaton,” head coach Parker Burgess said. “Northern Michigan has a lot of exciting things ahead of them in their program, going into a new conference, they’ve some great coaching staff in that system, and it’s an overall excellent hockey program. I know Keaton will continue to impress on the ice, and the Wildcats will be happy to have him in their locker room.”
“It’s super exciting, especially for Keaton; I think it’s a great spot for him to land. The coaching staff there is fantastic, and it’s a place that I think Keaton will fit in well with,” assistant coach Ryan Black said. “He’s a fast skater, and NMU has some big ice, so that provides him some room to motor around. I know Northern is looking forward to having a player like Keaton on the ice.” Coach Black, an alma mater of Northern Michigan, played four seasons for the Panthers from 2015-2019 and is happy to see Peters joining a program he knows well.
Peters joins Coach Black and five Jets alumni in joining the NMU program: Parker Lindauer (2019-20), Ian Malcolmson (2017-18), Adam Roeder (2014-17), Jesse Junttila (2013-14), and Zach Diamantoni (2012-13).
The Wildcats program was inaugurated in 1976 and began play as an independent team but joined the CCHA the following year. The history of Northern Michigan’s program and its leapfrogging to different divisions is a ride. NMU stayed in the CCHA for seven seasons up until 1986, where it was announced they would join the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Ten years later, after three consecutive losing seasons, the Wildcats returned to the CCHA. Then, NMU rejoined the WCHA after the Big Ten Conference announced sponsorship of men’s hockey, and a new conference, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, was introduced. Last year, Northern Michigan announced it would be one of seven WCHA members to leave the conference and join a new one in the 2021 season. That new conference? The CCHA, which was disbanded in 2013 after conference realignment, is now back to host one of its original members in Northern Michigan. The Wildcats program has made three NCAA Frozen Four appearances and has one National Championship that came in the 1990-91 season when they played in the WCHA.
“I chose Northern Michigan for a few reasons, but a lot is due to the coaches. The staff there made me feel welcome, special, and they really cared about ensuring that a good rapport would be built within the team. Good coaching is so crucial in developing and keeping a good program, and that really stood out to me, ” Peters said. “The campus is great, the arena is a nice place to play in, and as I said, I sort of fell in love with it. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity.”
Peters is the first commitment for the Jets in the 2021-22 season and has a lot of season left to prepare for the competitive nature of Division I hockey. Though it is early, Peters knows that time is of the essence to sharpen his skillset and become the best player he can before he gets to the collegiate level.
“I’m eager to compete at the Division I level, but I’m working on my game here in Janesville. I’m developing and getting better every day, and that’s a big focus of mine,” said Peters. “The goal is to be successful at the DI level, and I’m going to work hard to ensure that happens.”