Jonah Aegerter figures to be one of the youngest players in the North American Hockey League this season.
Don’t be surprised if he’s not also one of the best.
The 16-year-old Aegerter dazzled at the Janesville Jets’ tryout camp this summer and earned a spot on the 2020-21 roster. The NAHL has delayed the start of the season until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but league officials hope its the only setback after last year’s season abruptly ended in March.
Aegerter was born and raised in Janesville and is happy to be home after spending last year playing for the Oakland Junior Grizzlies—a 15U AAU team located in Oakland, Michigan.
“It’s pretty awesome to be back in Janesville, living at home and having my friends around that I grew up with,” Aegerter said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect at tryouts, but I skate with (Jets assistant coach) Lenny Childs all summer, and he said to just come down and do my best.”
Aegerter, who will be a junior at Janesville Craig, has been getting rave reviews for his skating skills and stick-handling abilities. He had 23 goals and 52 assists for the Grizzlies in last year’s shortened season.
Neutral Zone, an amateur scouting service, ranked Aegerter as the 130th top prospect out of its 250 top players with a 2004 birth date.
“Aegerter’s a strong skater who uses his speed to beat defenders,” a news release from Neutral Zone said. “He has a quick release with the ability to score goals. He has great vision, with the ability to set up his teammates for scoring opportunities.”
Jets head coach Parker Burgess was somewhat surprised that Aegerter made the impact he did at the team’s tryout camp.
He figured Aegerter would likely return for another year of AAA hockey to hone his game and skate with other players his age, and not in the play NAHL, where the physical rigors are much more demanding.
“Every day at main camp, after every ice time he had, it was so hard to not have him on the top of our list,” Burgess said. “”He came in coming to skate and try out and see where he stood up against some of the older, veteran junior hockey players, and guys who are junior hockey ready. But he put us in a position where he was one of our better forwards at camp.
“And it’s a good situation. It’s good for the organization to have a player of Jonah’s caliber and with him being a Janesville native. But it was also good for Jonah and his family and advisors, where they’re comfortable that this will be a good situation for him.”
Aegerter is one of only five 16-year-olds to be on a Jets roster.
Burgess said Aegerter’s play during the tryout camp all-star games was electric.
“I think he had three or four goals in the two all-star games,” Burgess said. “He put is in a position where we had to keep him.
“And there were no freebies, no handouts. He probably had to work even harder than a lot of others given his age. He really had to stand out, and he did.”
Whether Aegerter plays one or two seasons with the Jets, his future is bright. He has already verbally committed to St. Cloud State, and last summer competed in a US Select camp for 15U players in Buffalo.
Although it appears that Aegerter is on a fast track to a possible career in the NHL, he’s remained grounded and is taking things day by day.
“Honestly, I haven’t thought too far ahead,” Aegerter said. “I’m just doing everything I can to get better each and every day.
“With everything that’s been going on with COVID, I’m happy to be back on the ice skating, working out as much as possible at the Athlete X Factory and just being home.”
And the Janesville Jets are happy to have him, too.