Nasti returns as Blaze number one
The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze are thrilled to welcome back 32-year-old Canadian netminder Kevin Nastiuk for the 2018/19 Elite League season.
The 6’1” shot-stopper played in 56 regular season games over the past campaign, posting a save-percentage of 90%. Also appearing in 5 Challenge Cup and 2 playoff games, the Edmonton native who combined playing with study at Coventry Business School was voted Best Defensive Player, Players’ Player of the Season, and picked by Head Coach Danny Stewart as his Player of the Year.
Nastiuk, who became a hugely popular figure within the Blaze organisation, joined from Dresdner Eislöwen of Germany's DEL2 where despite missing some time of the 2016/17 season due to a broken thumb, he impressively posted a league best save-percentage (93.78%) and goals-against-average (1.99) amongst all regular starting goalies.
In total, the left-hand catcher spent four years in the DEL2, three with Dresdner Eislöwen and a single season with Heilbronner Falken, amassing 166 regular season and playoff games.
Nastiuk's time in Germany was also spent in the DEL, the country's top-division where over three campaigns with Eisbären Berlin, he helped the club to back-to-back Championships in 2010/11 and 2011/12, plus a European Trophy in 2011. His experience in Berlin also extended to two games in the Champions Hockey League.
Before moving to Germany in 2010, Nastiuk's pro-career was spent between the ECHL and AHL. In the near 100 ECHL regular season and Kelly Cup playoff games, the confident stick-handling goalie regularly posted an impressive save-percentage over 91%.
Prior to turning pro, he had a solid four-year junior career with Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. Impressing in the CHL Top Prospects game in his second season, he was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2003 NHL entry draft.
After being drafted, during the 2003/2004 WHL season, Nastiuk posted a 40+ win campaign with Medicine Hat and guided them to their first WHL Championship since 1988. After posting a shut-out streak of 194 minutes and 19 seconds in the playoffs (WHL's 3rd longest in history), he was named the Playoff MVP and later appeared in all four of the team's Memorial Cup games.
In his final year with the Medicine Hat Tigers, he was named a WHL All-Star and at season's end was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite never icing in the NHL, Nastiuk experienced the show five times as a back-up in 2005 and was also later invited to the training camp of Boston Bruins in 2008.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, “Nasti was one of our main targets as soon as the season ended. He was instrumental in our second half run and gave us a chance to win each and every night. It’s always an adjustment coming to this league for the first time, and I thought he handled it well. It’s a big workload for a starter, and the consistency he brought all year is a testament to the competitor he is. He’s a gamer, and wants to win every night. I think we will see an even better year out of him next season and we’re thrilled to have him back.”