March 19, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Sova to Skip Senior Season for Alaska, Signs NHL Deal

CHN Staff Report

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Alaska junior defenseman Joe Sova has signed an entry-level contract with the NHL's New Jersey Devils.

“This opportunity is something Joe has work hard for and we want to wish him all the best as he pursues his goal of playing in the National Hockey League," Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said.

The details of Sova's contract were not disclosed, as per the parent club's policy, but he left Fairbanks on Wednesday night to head to New Jersey, where his current team will be determined — either the Devils' AHL affiliate in Albany, or the NHL affiliate in Trenton (N.J.).

“It’s been a lifelong dream to play professional hockey,” said Sova. “It’s exciting and Alaska has played a major role in my development. I’ve learned and experienced a lot and obviously I couldn’t go where I’m going without having been here.”

The 6-foot-3, 203-pounder was the Nanooks’ top offensive defenseman this season and second on the team in scoring with four goals and 20 assists in 37 games. In his three seasons with the Nanooks, he had 13 goals and 45 assists good for 58 points in 115 career games.

“I owe a lot to guys I’ve played with like Vanny (Steve Vanoosten) and Aaron Gens for the past two years, as well as all the other guys around me and the coaching and support staff,” Sova said. “I owe a lot to them and I’m grateful to everyone, especially the guys. I’ve made some lifelong friends here in the past three years.”

An honorable mention to the CCHA All-Conference team, Sova had the second best point totals of all league defenseman and was 10th overall in assists among all skaters.

“I’m going in there not expecting much (playing wise) but am just going to try to learn as much as I can and soak it up so I can take it into camp over the summer and then next year,” Sova said.

A computer science major, Sova plans to return to Fairbanks at the end of the season and finish his classes.

“I look forward to getting the second part of my career going but know I’ll be back and get a chance to close up this chapter of my life,” he said. “I look forward to starting the next one — hopefully there’s a few more chapters to be written — but I’ll take it day by day and learn as much as possible and see what happens."

Sova admitted benefiting from conversations with other Alaska alumni currently among the professional ranks like 2010 Stanley Cup Champion and defenseman Jordan Hendry and Johnson.

“They (Hendry and Johnson) said you’ve got to work hard and stick at what you want to do," Sova said. "If its hockey, you’ve got to give your best effort. If you’re not going to give your best effort then you’re selling yourself short. Not everything is going to be handed to you; you’ve got to work for it.

“At the same time, it’s not all about a hockey player; you’ve got to be a good all-around person. You’ve got to be doing the right things all the time and remember that there’s a name on the back of your jersey that correlates to the name on the front and vice versa.”

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