It sure doesn’t look like there will be a sophomore slump for Noah Batis. The Latrobe native has outdone himself so far for the Keystone Ice Miners of the North American Hockey League.
Batis spent last season playing for the Port Huron Fighting Falcons, his first in the NAHL. He had 11 goals and 10 assists in 51 games.
Through 17 games this season, Batis has eight goals and two assists.
“Noah has been really good,” Ice Miners coach Michael Gershon said. “It’s his second year in the league, and it’s showing on the ice. I think he has the ability to score 20-25 goals, which in this league is really hard.
“He’s a goal scorer, and that’s what we have him here for. He’s a shooter, that’s his game. He’s got a nose for the net. If we get the puck to him, he’s going to get a quality shot.”
Batis has scored nearly as many goals as last season in half the shots. The 6-foot, 192-pound forward has taken only 52 shots this season. Last season, he took 102.
“It’s more of a confidence thing,” Batis said. “I’m just more comfortable with everything.”
That includes returning to Western Pennsylvania. Batis, 19, was born and raised in Latrobe until his freshman season (2009-2010), when he helped the Wildcats win a third consecutive Penguins Cup. Batis had 17 goals and 35 assists in 19 games that season.
At 15, he moved and has lived with host families in New York, Detroit, Indiana, New Hampshire and Port Huron while he played for various teams in various leagues and chased his dream of one day suiting up for an NHL squad.
“I’m trying to get a Division I scholarship to play hockey,” he said, “and then I want to play professionally.”
Batis is taking online courses at Ivy Tech Community College, where he said he has a 3.9 GPA. His aim is acceptance at an Ivy League program, but local programs such as Mercyhurst and Robert Morris also are high on his list.
If Batis does not get an offer to his liking after this season, he said he will continue playing for the Ice Miners (7-8), a Connellsville-based team in its first season.
Gershon would be happy to have him back, but he has noticed firsthand the skills of Batis, which he believes will travel with him.
“His best attribute is the ability to score goals,” Gershon said. “It’s hard to find guys that can score goals like him at the next levels.”
As he waits for an opportunity to move on, Batis is happy to bide his time locally, where he lives in Smithton.
“I like it here, and I’m comfortable here,” Batis said. “It feels good to be back in the area.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.