SNAKES SNAG KESSLER FOR SECOND SEASON; SIGN ROOKIE JOHNSON
COLUMBUS, Ga. - The Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League today announced the signing of defensemen Kevin Kesslerand Kyle Johnson. Both 6’3” blueliners are set to join the Snakes’ defensive corps in training camp, set to begin in just two short months.
Kessler is set to begin his second season as a Cottonmouth and third season pro, with both his previous years spent in the SPHL. Prior to joining the Snakes last year, Kessler played for the Huntsville Havoc under head coach and former CHL Cottonmouth Randy Murphy. The durable defenseman has played every game of the regular season during both his years in the SPHL and has also given double-digit point efforts each year. This past year, Kessler netted a pair of goals and added nine assists for Columbus in the regular season; he notched three goals and chipped in seven assists during his rookie season with the Havoc in 2010-11. The 26-year-old Kessler played three seasons collegiately with the Minutemen of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst from 2007 to 2010. He played in a total of 32 games and was named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team as a redshirt in 2006-07 then again the following season as a redshirt freshman. In 2008-09, Kessler was the co-recipient of the UMass Hockey Minuteman Award, given for dedication, determination, character, and sportsmanship. The 6”3”, 215-pounder is best known for his physical presence on the ice; his bio on the UMass hockey website describes Kessler as a “big, strong, stay-at-home defenseman who can punish opposing players with bone-crushing hits,” a trait Snakes fans were shown repeatedly last season during the team’s championship run.
“Kevin Kessler turned out to be a big difference for our team last year. He is big and nasty to play against. He’s one of the most physical defensemen in the league, and we needed that last season. We look for him to continue to give us that physical presence,” said Cottonmouths head coach and general manager Jerome Bechard.
Kyle Johnson is set to begin his first professional season in training camp with the Cottonmouths after six successful years in juniors and college in Alberta. The Edmonton native played junior hockey in his home province with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in 2006-09, scoring a total of 72 points (21G, 51A) over three seasons and 167 games. He played his college hockey with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, the same conference where such Snakes alumni as Tim Green, Tylor Keller, and Chad Rycroft played collegiately. He scored 30 points (6G, 24A) in 75 games from 2009-12 at NAIT. At 6’3” and 195 pounds, the 23-year-old Johnson looks to add to the physical presence on the Columbus blue line while also chipping in offensively.
“Kyle’s been a captain everywhere he’s played,” said Snakes assistant coach Brad Prefontaine. “He comes highly recommended from one of his coaches who was a former teammate of mine. Even opposing coaches have nothing but praise for him. He’s a great skater and an all-around good hockey player.”
The Snakes open the 2012-13 season on Friday, October 26 against the Pensacola Ice Flyers in a rematch of last season’s President’s Cup championship series. Season ticket plans are still available with great seats and affordable plans for those on a budget. For more information on how you can become a part of exciting Cottonmouths hockey, contact the Snakes office at 706.571.0086.