After being an undersized player earlier in his career, Ken Agostino is continually learning how to play to his size at Yale, and is becoming one of the top offensive threats in college hockey.
Agostino is off to a hot start in this, his junior season. Through his first four games he has three goals and three assists for the Bulldogs. As a freshman and sophomore, Agostino tallied 59 points through his first 64 collegiate games. He even scored at over a point-per-game pace last season as a sophomore.
Agostino, a fifth round pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, was actually cut from the United States' World Junior team in his freshman season despite putting together a solid freshman campaign. Agostino was one of the lower drafted players in attendance, but he was also one of the final cuts. The experience was still positive, though, as he was able to take a lot from the experience.
“At the time it was certainly [motivating] to be cut, but it was a great experience just to be a part of the process,” Agostino said.
“I got to play against some of the best players around and represent my country, which is really cool. I was able to gauge how close I was to some of the top players in the country, and for me it was a positive experience for sure. I thought I played well up there, unfortunately it just didn’t work out.”
The Morristown, NJ native has continued to show improvements since his first day with the Bulldogs. Agostino has now become an offensive weapon that the team can rely upon.
“Kenny is just another kid who has grown as a hockey player,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “They get into the program as an 18-year old kid and they just work hard. Kenny is an [important] offensive player [for us], and we look [for] him to score goals.”
Although Agostino has become a very strong player in the offensive zone, he has had to go through multiple adjustments to his style of play. When he was younger he was more of an undersized player, but had a big growth spurt during high school. Since his freshman year he has added two inches, and now stands at 6'1”.
“I had a huge growth spurt in high school, and it really changed my game,” Agostino said. “I put on some extra weight this past summer, and it has helped me a lot. I can use my body even more, and get some gritty goals here and there.”
Agostino has a knack for creating plays, which his linemates have really come to notice.
“We get open for each other a lot,” said Jesse Root, who centers Agostino’s line. “ If I get open I know that Kenny is going to find me on the ice, and it makes it easier to play when that is the case.”
As a Penguins prospect, Agostino has had the opportunity to participate in the Pittsburgh prospect camp the past few summers. Like many players in his situation, Agostino has been able to take several benefits from the camp to help his game.
“Camp has helped me a lot, and they certainly teach you how to become a pro,” Agostino said. “The staff harps on the little things like sleep, eating right, and taking care of your body.”
Agostino is a year away from turning pro, at the very least, as he plays with Yale this season, but still has one more season of college eligibility he could choose to play after this season. As he has started to mature the Penguins have started to keep a close eye on him, which has helped him determine what he has to improve on in his own game.
“Over the past couple years they have been keeping a lot more tabs on my play, and [personally] I think one of the things I need to work on is my defensive zone play,” Agostino told Hockey's Future.com this past summer at the Penguins development camp. “I think my defensive zone coverage has improved tremendously since my first development camp, in 2010, with the Penguins.”
“I want to be a complete player like Callahan,” Agostino said. “Callahan’s defensive zone coverage and his transition offense is something I like. Those are two things I am trying to improve on. I also love Callahan’s work ethic, obviously if you can work as hard as he can you are doing all right.”
With his continued development at Yale, Agostino is turning into a prolific scorer at the college level, and he could be taking those talents to an NHL arena in the near future.
Although it is still unclear what Agostino plans to do after this season, he will definitely be keeping his options open if the Penguins decide to give him a call about turning pro.
“I haven’t really thought too much about signing, and any opportunity that comes I will have to sit down and talk with my family about it,” said Agostino this summer at Penguins camp. “I am really excited about this season at Yale. When the opportunity comes about, though, it is something I am going to seriously have to consider.”
Whether or not Agostino makes the jump to pro, Yale has a special player that is only scratching the surface of his potential.
Follow Richard Murray on twitter: https://twitter.com/Richie_Murray
Ian Altenbaugh contributed to this report