Stewart names Kevin Nastiuk as Blaze number one
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart is delighted to name 31-year-old Kevin Nastiuk as the club's number one netminder for the 2017/18 Elite League season.
Standing at 6'1" tall, Nastiuk joins the Blaze organisation from Dresdner Eislöwen of Germany's DEL2. Despite missing some time last season due to a broken thumb, the Edmonton, Canada native was to post a league best save-percentage (93.78%) and goals-against-average (1.99) amongst all regular starting goalies.
Fully recovered from the injury, Nastiuk was to continue his fine form into the DEL2 playoffs where over the six games played he registered a 92.4% save-percentage and 2.77 goals-against-average.
In total, the left-hand catcher has spent four years in the DEL2, three with Dresdner Eislöwen and a single season with Heilbronner Falken, totalling 166 regular season and playoff games.
Nastiuk's time in Germany has also been spent in the DEL, the country's top-division where over three seasons 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 extends 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, Nastiuk 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, Nastiuk 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, “After considering several options we are delighted to have Kevin join us in Coventry. He is a proven winner at very good levels and is coming off arguably his best season statistically. A lot of his references were similar and that's always a good sign. He’s a steady guy back there, who doesn't let much phase him, which sends that confidence to the guys in front of him. He has that bounce-back-ability from game-to-game and within games, and that's very important here in the UK with the workload and importance of the league.
“A further strength that really attracted me to Kevin was his ability to play the puck. Having a goalie who is confident to do that helps to prevent teams playing more in our zone. Opposition will have to be smarter as to what areas they put pucks and our defence will hopefully take less contact, plus it helps with transition as well. We have found a really good team player here who guys are going to want to battle in front of. He's going to help us get better!
“I’d also like to say a big thank you to Coventry University Business School for the part that they have played in allowing us to sign a player of Kevin’s calibre. He will be taking advantage of the education package that we are able to offer by studying for an MSc in Sport Management and again I can’t re-iterate how important that partnership with the Business School is to us.”
Kevin Nastiuk commented, “I'm really looking forward to the new opportunity in the UK. I have recently played six years in Germany and I have thoroughly enjoyed living in Europe. Coventry has had lots of success in the past and I'm looking towards having a great season. I'm a calm goalie who relies on technique and quickness. I've heard Coventry has great fans and I look forward to playing in front of them for the upcoming season.”