Empire State of Mind

Know Your Bobcat – Kenny Curtis

Throughout the months of August and September, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features second-year defenseman and Bobcat newcomer Kenny Curtis.

Name: Kenny Curtis

Position: Defenseman

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 165 lbs.

2012-13 Team: Jamestown Ironmen

2012-13 Stats: 38 GP, 1 G, 8 A, 9 PTS, -3, 12 PIM, 1 PPG

Favorite TV Show: How I Met Your Mother

Favorite Movie: Rush Hour

Highlight of 2012-13: “Winning Game Three of the North Division Finals over Soo at home to finish up the sweep and the knowing that all our hard work paid off.”

Keep it Rolling

During Kenny Curtis’ rookie season in the NAHL, the Jamestown Ironmen achieved all sorts of franchise firsts, from a playoff spot to a North Division title, but days after it all came to a close at the 2013 Robertson Cup Tournament, news came down from league headquarters that the Ironmen would go dark in 2013-14.

As a player eligible to return to the Ironmen for the upcoming season, Curtis—along with all his other Jamestown teammates born in 1993 or later—became a free agent under league rules, meaning he could either sign a tender agreement with an NAHL team or attend tryouts for a new team, but could not be drafted.

“Everybody on the team had heard the rumors that the franchise might not be back next year,” admitted Curtis, who hails from nearby Rochester, N.Y., “so the guys who weren’t aging out or going to college had to prepare for what we’d do [for 2013-14] if that was the case.

“When the Robertson Cup ended, I sat down with Tyler Dunagan and Huba Sekesi and we decided that if we couldn’t be Ironmen that we wanted to stick together for our last year in juniors.”

As summer arrived, the defenseman and his two forward buddies made the choice that they would head west and play for the Bismarck Bobcats.

The Jamestown trio had encountered the Bobcats twice during the 2012-13 campaign and were impressed by what they saw.

“We played our first game and our last game against Bismarck and we were impressed by the way they played and how well they were coached,” recalled Curtis, “and we knew that they had a winning tradition with a Robertson Cup and five straight division titles. Plus Tyler had nothing but good things to say about the coaching staff with the Bobcats.

“So when that phone call came [from the Bobcat coaches], it was an easy decision to make.”

Hybrid Engine

Despite growing up a little over an hour east of HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres, Kenny Curtis is a lifelong fan of the Sabres’ cross-state rivals, the New York Rangers. It should come as little surprise, then, that Curtis says he tries to emulate one of the Blueshirts’ defensemen when he is out there on the ice.

The surprise should come when he tells you which one.

“I think my game is the closest to Michael Del Zotto,” offered Curtis of the Rangers blueliner. “He’s not the biggest guy on defense so he uses his stick well defensively, likes to join the rush and he knows how to use his body and be physical, even against bigger guys in open ice and along the wall.”

Del Zotto, a 1990 birth year, is only three years older than Curtis; he entered the NHL in 2009 after being a first-round pick for the Rangers the previous year.

“He’s pretty new on the scene, so it may sound like a bit of a strange choice,” agreed Curtis, “but that’s how I like to play every night. My goal every night is to be a two-way player: playing a good strong game in my end but contributing on offense, too.”

When the Ironmen started heating up in the second half of 2012-13, Curtis’ offensive talents were recognized as the rookie was installed as the quarterback of one of Jamestown’s power play units. It was on that unit that he scored his first career goal, late in the third period of a tight home game against the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

By the end of the season, though, it was the defensive aspect that became most important to Curtis, thanks to the veteran leadership on the Jamestown blue line.

“We had a lot of great veterans in Jamestown who showed us the ropes,” explained Curtis of the Ironmen defensive unit, which boasted five 1992-born players. “And though we had vets who liked to jump in the play like Dylan Zink, the older guys always made it clear that being steady defenders was our first priority.”

Having that defense-first mentality should be helpful, now that Curtis is joining a unit that allowed just 2.33 goals per game en route to being a top-two defense league-wide in 2012-13.

“I’m excited to be a part of a crew that played such good defense last year,” stated Curtis. “I’ve got a pretty big standard to uphold, and it’s great to aim high like that to help make myself and my team better.”

Brave New World

Coming to North Dakota to play for the Bobcats will present a new challenge for Kenny Curtis. Unlike his fellow Ironmen-turned-Bobcats in Dunagan and Sekesi, who hail from Minnesota and Germany, respectively, Curtis will be playing away far from home for the first time in his hockey career in 2013-14.

“Moving so far away from home was the hardest part about making the decision to be a Bobcat,” confessed Curtis, “because I’ve never gone so far from my family to chase my hockey dreams. Even in Jamestown I was only two hours from home.

“But I talked it over with my parents and even though my mom wasn’t so sure about me moving so far away, we decided it was best for my career.”

Their blessing isn’t the only support that Curtis can expect from his family, either.

“Mom told me that she was going to fly out and see some games at the VFW Sports Center, so that will be pretty cool,” the second-year blueliner added.

“Dad’s not much of a flyer, though, so I guess he’ll have to stick to FASTHockey.”

With his family behind him, Curtis packed up and started the 1,400 mile trek from upstate New York to central North Dakota.

Despite transitioning into a completely different part of the country, he only has one real concern about the move.

“I hear it gets really, really cold in North Dakota,” joked Curtis, “so I brought an extra jacket. Other than that, I’m ready to get started with training camp and to start working toward winning the Robertson Cup.”

Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com over the next month-plus as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2013-14 season. This week we will also feature Tony German.