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Stingrays Sign Kozun, McKernan

July 10, 2018 - ECHL (ECHL) - South Carolina Stingrays News Release

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals and AHL's Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Tad Kozun and defenseman Kevin McKernan for the 2018-19 season. Kozun returns to SC after appearing in 19 games for the team at the end of the 2017-18 year, while McKernan will make his debut with the Rays after his rights were acquired from Fort Wayne as part of future considerations from an earlier trade.

Kozun signed with the Stingrays at the conclusion of his senior collegiate season with the University of Alaska-Anchorage on Feb. 28 and had a goal and an assist for the Stingrays down the stretch along with 11 penalty minutes. He served as an alternate captain with the Seawolves during 2017-18 while suiting up for 33 games and scoring 15 points on five goals and 10 assists.

"We obviously like Kozy first and foremost as a person," said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Ryan Warsofsky. "He's a great teammate, does whatever it takes to help the team and we thought his game was coming along last year. I thought he had a really good start to his pro career and started figuring out his identity of being hard to play against while being responsible. He can play center if we need him in a pinch and I thought he did really well filling in at center on the third line late in the season. We think he can take another step in his career here and we're excited to have him back."

While at school, Kozun played in a total of 133 games over four seasons and scored 69 points (29 goals, 40 assists). He proved to be extremely durable, missing just three total games during his collegiate career and played in all of the team's 34 contests during both his freshman and sophomore campaigns.

"It's definitely exciting to be back and to keep being a part of this organization that's had success for many many years," Kozun said. "I had such a great experience. It's a great setup and everybody I've ever talked to that's played there says it's the place to be in the ECHL.

Before his time at UAA, Kozun played three seasons of junior hockey with his hometown team, the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) from 2011-14. During the 2013-14 season he led the league with 38 goals and finished third in overall scoring with 65 points as an alternate captain.

"Having my first pro games under my belt already I know what to expect," Kozun said. "It definitely helps during the summer with training because I know where I need to improve and need to get stronger, that's what will help me become a successful player in pro hockey. To be able to get the opportunity to come back is definitely a privilege."

McKernan joined Fort Wayne in March after completing his senior season at Quinnipiac University and suited up for nine regular season games as well as eight playoff contests in the Komets' run to the Western Conference Finals. The blueliner had one assist in the postseason along with four penalty minutes and a +1 rating.

"We followed him through his career at Quinnipiac and he's a guy that skates extremely well," Warsofsky said. "[Hershey Assistant Coach] Reid Cashman, who is in the system, coached him at Quinnipiac and is familiar with him too. He filled in for Fort Wayne last year and played some meaningful playoff games which is always helpful. We're looking forward to him getting down here and helping our back end."

While attending Quinnipiac, the 5-foot-11, 192-pound defender played in 138 games over four seasons and scored 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists). McKernan was also part of the Bobcats' Frozen Four appearance and run to the National Championship game in 2016. The Millbury, Mass. native also helpd the Boston Junior Bruins to the 2013-14 USPHL Championship as an assistant captain while ranking second among team defensemen with 25 points in 46 games.

"I'm really excited to be part of the team," McKernan said. "Coach seems to have high expectations and I'd like to follow up on those and have a good year down there. I've heard some great things from guys around the league and some former players so I'm looking forward to it and getting ready to get started in October."

Kozun is the fifth forward to sign with South Carolina for 2018-19, while McKernan becomes the second defenseman under contract. They join skaters Matt Pohlkamp, Bo Brauer, Cam MacDonald and Mike Chen. More player signings will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

The 26th season of South Carolina Stingrays hockey begins in Jacksonville against the Icemen on October 13. The Stingrays will open their home schedule vs. Greenville on Saturday, October 20.

Season tickets are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248 or visit 3300 W. Montague Ave. Suite A-200 during business hours.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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