All in the hockey family
Jack Merkosky was surrounded by hockey from his first memory.
The 19-year-old centre for the Pelham Panthers is the son of former long-time American Hockey League star Glenn Merkosky, who won three Calder Cups and accumulated 325 goals over a 10-year career, mainly with the Adirondack Red Wings.
“I grew up around it my whole life,” Jack Merkosky said. “My dad was always traveling or had me playing hockey and shooting pucks. He always told me stories and stuff.
“It’s always been around in my life.”
The elder Merkosky also got into 66 games in the National Hockey League with the New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers and Detroit Red Wings. After retiring as a player, he became head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves and coached in Adirondack before shifting to pro scouting in 1999 for the Red Wings.
Jack Merkosky has fond memories of meeting the stars of the Red Wings and hanging out at the rink.
“I met all the players — (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Pavel) Datsyuk — in 2008 when they won the Stanley Cup it was at our house for my brother’s 21st birthday. That was pretty cool.
“I was always around the players and in the locker room. It was really cool growing up.”
He feels his father’s tutelage has played a big role in his career.
“It helps a lot. I wouldn’t be anywhere without my dad,” Jack Merkosky said. “His insight and his knowledge, he knows the game so well. It’s the little things. He helps me improve every day and tells me what I can work on and I try and do my best.”
Merkosky grew up in Queensbury, N.Y., about, 45 minutes north of Albany, where the family still maintains a home. He played A until bantam and then AAA in Albany before two years with the Brockville Braves U18. He hooked up with the Panthers in 2019/20 thanks to former Pelham scout Jeff Tallman.
“I love it. The group of guys here is by far the best group I’ve ever been around. We all love each other and we’re all here for each other,” Jack Merkosky said. “We all want to win together. It’s great here.”
On the ice, Jack Merkosky is having a solid season with 10 goals and 21 points in 36 games.
“Jack is a good defensive centre and good at winning draws,” Pelham coach Tim Toffolo said. “He’s on a line with Florian (Xhekaj) and then have a good feel back and forth. They seem to work well together.”
The Panthers, 12-22-2, have 12 games remaining before the playoffs. They are at St. Catharines Friday, Fort Erie Saturday and home to Caledonia Sunday afternoon.
“Our guys have some talent and ability. At this point it’s up to them to make decisions to grow together as a team, to join together as a team and to rely on each other and have faith with each other,” Toffolo said. “We can go over drills and systems but if they choose not to buy in together as a team, then unfortunately that will be their demise. If they choose to buy in and be a team and support each other each and every game and day, then you never know what can happen in sports.
“There are no more individuals. It’s playing together. It’s about the team.”
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