Advancing through the junior hockey ranks to Division I college is a challenging task, and for another Topeka RoadRunner, the journey has a happy ending.
Andrew Blazek, a native of Pittsburgh, has made the roster at his hometown Robert Morris University (College Hockey America). While he’s yet to have chosen a major, he credits the RMU staff, including head coach Derek Schooley, for being active in helping him make a decision.
Prior to his seasoning in the NAHL, Blazek, a forward, received two varsity letters for hockey at Upper St. Clair High School in the Steel City. His first taste of the NAHL came with Topeka’s division rival, the Texas Tornado.
When the Tornado went inactive for arena upgrades last season, Blazek needed a place to play.
“When I played for Texas, we got swept by Topeka in the first round of the playoffs. I didn't know too many of the teams in the league, so I picked from what I knew.
“Topeka had a great group of guys with a great coach (Scott Langer) and I wanted to be a part of a national championship team. We came close (losing to St. Louis in the division finals last season), but in no way do I regret choosing Topeka.”
A junior hockey program measures itself not only by wins and losses, but also the success is has in developing its scholar-athletes. In the case of Blazek, it’s a clear victory for both sides.
“The practices (in Topeka) were intense and I played with skill guys like (Bemidji State University freshman) Jordan George and Andy Inderieden, who taught me some hockey sense,” said Blazek.
He credits Langer for much of his development and exposure to the college ranks.
“Coach Langer got me on the ice and helped with recruiting,” said Blazek. “If it wasn't for him and the rest of the guys, I wouldn't be playing Division I hockey this year.”
Blazek also offered advice for the current crop of RoadRunners working through the system in hopes of landing on a college roster.
“I would tell the rookies to get their names out there any way possible, and to develop their skills because college hockey is a lot harder than juniors.”
Robert Morris will play one more season in CHA before moving to the Atlantic Hockey Association for the 2010-11 season.