It all started with stitches to the chin for Admirals left-wing John Kurtz when he was three and stepped out on the ice for his first skating lesson. Kurtz didn’t let a little blood stop him from learning to skate and later playing hockey. The left winger is now a pivotal puzzle piece of the Norfolk Admirals, the top development club of the Anaheim Ducks.
After his hiccup, Kurtz went on to play his minor league hockey in his hometown Oakville, Ontario. “Oakville has a great hockey program and have molded a lot of great hockey players so far.” stated Kurtz. The 6’2” gritty forward was right. Oakville’s hockey community has hatched some gifted players in recent memory including John Tavares, Sam Gagner, and Steve Mason who are all NHL regulars.
Kurtz began his junior career with the Burlington Cougars in the 05-06 season who compete in the OPJHL. In 42 games with the Cougars, Kurtz managed 18 points. Following his tour with the Cougars, John began playing in the Ontario Hockey League one of three major junior hockey leagues in Canada that dominate the NHL draft every summer. He started the 06-07 season with the Windsor Spitfires and recorded 15 points in 58 games. Following the 06-07 campaign, Kurtz hurdled to Sudbury, Ontario home of the Sudbury Wolves where he remained until aging out of the junior league.
During his second (08-09) and third season (09-10) with the Wolves, Kurtz was Sudbury’s anchor and was named Captain. At any age, wearing a letter in hockey is a big commitment. Kurtz took the role with pride saying, “In minor hockey I was a captain as well. I have to give a lot of credit to my Mom and Dad. They brought me up as a leader. It was a great opportunity for me and I kind of took it and ran with it.” Kurtz also credits former Sudbury Wolves coach Mike Foligno for teaching him about being a leader.
After conquering 161 points spanning 293 tilts in juniors, the 1989 born right winger planted his feet in Syracuse, New York appearing in six contests with the Crunch directly after the Wolves tour ended in 09-10. Kurtz’s made his presence known almost immediately notching a goal in his second pro game in Adirondack against the Phantoms.
Kurtzy as he is known to his teammates draped a Crunch jersey for 67 games while collecting 147 minutes in penalties prior to the affiliation change that brought the Crunch to Norfolk. After the affiliation change, Kurtz and his hockey brethren moved to Norfolk and like any family they have roles that they fall into. Kurtz shared his thoughts on his role stating, “An energy guy banging bodies around, drop the gloves when we need it. Anything the coach asks me do, I’ll step up and do it for us.”
John is the type of brother that will stick up for his hockey family if need be and his 67 penalty minutes in 31 games proves this fact. “I’m a very team guy. If anyone takes a liberty on my teammates, I’ll stand up for them and I know they will do the same for me. We’re a family here and I’ll protect anybody on and off the ice.” Head coach Trent Yawney put Kurtz out on the penalty kill lately helping the Admirals penalty kill climb to 83.3. One could say it’s all his hard work paying off.
No matter what age or level you’re playing all hockey players have one goal—to play in the NHL. Kurtz is no different. “I want to be the best athlete I can. I want to play in the National Hockey League and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there.” stated Kurtz.
Off the ice, Kurtz is like any other 23-year-old. He shares his down time with his hockey brothers playing cards, playing guitar, reading and “basic guy stuff” stated John. Over the course of a hockey season, a hockey family molds and gels as players grow. Admirals speedy forward Dan Sexton shared his thoughts on Kurtz growth saying, “He’s done a heck of a job. He is a guy who is relied on during the penalty kill a lot. He also has some of the grit factor where he has that skill, but if he needs to he can play aggressive and change the momentum that way.”
Kurtz holds strong ties to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Kurtz donates $25.00 after every game the Admirals win. Kurtz gave his reasoning behind this saying, “It started in training camp this year. My Dad he has M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis) and he has been living with that for a few years now and I wanted to jump in and lend a helping hand and use my status in the town to raise money and awareness for M.S. and try to help out people in the local community.”
Recently Kurtz had a stronghold on Twitter called #StayHotKurtzy. Kurtz’s teammates and fans helped create the hash tag and made it a trending topic on Twitter. John shared his thoughts on the hash tag stating, “It started off as an inside joke between me and our goalie, Freddy Andersen, and it really took off with our fans jumping on it and snowballing it and making names for other players. I think it’s pretty cool and it’s a good way for players and fans to interact.” Numerous other Norfolk Admirals hash tags were sprinkled around the twitter verse like #PatMaroonFacts after Admirals assistant captain Patrick Maroon and #MagicMitchell for John Mitchell who donates money after every win to Operation Smile.
So all that’s left to be said in this article is Stay Hot Kurtzy. You can also contribute to Kurtz’s National MS Society page by clicking here.
Follow Ted on Twitter @bauerhockeydude