Joseph Duszak was only 15 when he joined the P.A.L. Junior Islanders of the USPHL.
A promising defenseman, Duszak (Franklin Square, N.Y.) was coming off a season in the Long Island Amateur Hockey League and mulling his future. Coaches Ed Galiani and Dan Marshall reached out to the Long Island native about playing for the Suffolk Juniors of the Empire League.
At about the same time, Suffolk transformed into the Junior Islanders of the United States Premier Hockey League, and Duszak stuck with them.
That decision to play so close to home changed Duszak’s life for the better, as the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is now a stud for Mercyhurst. He’s not the only one, however — a whopping five former Junior Islanders are currently on head coach Rick Gotkin’s roster.