San Jose native, longtime Jr. Sharks star Mizuno utilizing EHL for final season of junior hockey
Kodai Mizuno has started his last season of junior hockey eligibility with a bang.
The San Jose native and longtime Jr. Sharks standout is playing the 2023-24 season for the EHL’s New Hampshire Avalanche after two seasons in the USPHL with the Boston Advantage.
“My goal is to play NCAA Division III hockey and found out that EHL commits a lot of players to D-III, which made me want to play in this league,” said Mizuno. “My old coach from the Boston Advantage, Ean Mendeszoon, helped me connect with (New Hampshire coach) Chris Cerrella. This year is my third and final year in juniors, so I wanted to pick a team that will be the best fit for me. With frequent communication with Coach Cerrella, I was certain that the New Hampshire Avalanche was the perfect fit for me and I was able to pick this team with confidence. Playing in the EHL is definitely appealing as I know that there are many scouts watching our games which allows me to focus on hockey more. There is a lot of talent and the competition level is very high, so I’m learning and getting better each day.
“I was a little nervous at first since I had never met my roommates before. However, as time has gone on, living in an apartment with my teammates has been enjoyable. I am thrilled to create new friendships with my new teammates and share this journey with people who share the same passion and goals. Living on the East Coast always gives me new experiences as well. Living in the snow and waiting for the frozen windshield to melt to go to practice is always a new feeling for me. It also gives me many opportunities to go to D-I and D-III college hockey games compared to living in San Jose. I couldn’t go to the Beanpot last year, so I really hope I can make it this year. The one thing I haven’t done yet this season is to find a good sushi restaurant around me.”
Recently, Mizuno was named to a team of EHL All-Stars to play in the 2023 EHL All-Star College Series, a string of games against NCAA D-III teams in mid-October.
“I feel honored to be able to play with all the talents from the league and to have an opportunity to play against D-III schools,” Mizuno said. “I hope to step up my game even more through these games and display what I am capable of. I am truly excited to be part of it.”
Back home, playing for the Jr. Sharks helped elevate Mizuno’s game.
“My most memorable year was my 16U AAA year,” Mizuno said. “It was my first AAA season and it was a big jump from AA hockey, but with the support from coach Mike Janda, he helped me improve my game to a higher level. Coach Janda was my coach for two years during my 16U AAA and 18U AAA seasons and he supported his players on and off ice which really helped me grow as a player and as a person. I appreciate all the support he has given me throughout my career and I still keep in touch with him to this day.”
Looking ahead, Mizuno has aspirations to take hockey as far as he can.
“My short-term goal for hockey is to win the league with this team,” said Mizuno. “I believe our team has the ability to do it, and I am really excited to showcase what we can do as a team this season. My long-term goal is to play for a NESCAC school. Since high school, I always wanted to excel in both academics and athletics. NESCAC schools provide the students with a high-quality education while allowing them to pursue their passion, and I believe that it will be a great fit for me.
“Hockey has always been a special way for me to connect with other people from all over the world. Hockey is one of my identities, and I hope to continue growing as a person through these unique experiences. Hockey is something truly special for me.”
Photos provided by Kodai Mizuno
— Matt Mackinder
(October 18, 2023)