NAHL Exclusive: Throwback Thursday
November 13, 2014
The NAHL is excited to launch a new feature on nahl.com entitled ‘Throwback Thursday.’ Now in its 39th year of operation, the NAHL has a long and accomplished list of alumni. Some have gone onto make playing hockey their careers in the NHL and in the minor leagues. Some have gone onto the NCAA, received their degrees and are now making an impact in the sport in other areas. Others have used their time spent playing in the NAHL to mold them into the businessmen, community leaders and industry builders that they are today. No matter the situation, their common bond is that they played junior hockey in the NAHL and it was an important step in molding them into who they are today.
In honor of Veterans Day, this week’s spotlight has a military flavor. Hundreds of NAHL graduates have chosen the military career path once their NAHL careers are over and this week’s alum is no exception. This week’s Throwback Thursday features former NAHL goaltender Robert Tadazak.
Tadazak, 24, is currently a senior at Army (United State Military Academy). He has played NCAA Division I hockey for the last three years for Army in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA).
The native of Royal Oak, Michigan, took a path to Army that is becoming increasing popular. He used both the NAHL and the NA3HL as a steppingstone to where he is today and what he will do in the future, which is serve his country.
Tadazak’s junior career began back during the 2006-07 season when he played for the Flint Junior Generals in the CSHL (now NA3HL). Tadazak would spend three seasons in the CSHL (NA3HL) developing as a goaltender. He spent the 2006-07 and 2007-08 season’s with Flint and the 2008-09 season with the Dubuque Thunderbirds.
A year later, he found himself in the NAHL playing for the Alexandria Blizzard during the 2008-09 season, where he appeared in 23 regular season games and was the goalie of choice in the playoffs for the Blizzard.
Tadazak’s breakout season came during the 2010-11 campaign when he went back to his home state to play for the Michigan Warriors, which was just an hour away from his hometown. Tadazak thrived in the Warriors system and put up record-breaking numbers. During that season, Tadazak posted nine shutouts, which at the time, set an all-time NAHL record, which has since been beaten.
However, his 94.4% save percentage was the best for any goaltender in NAHL history and included 1,244 saves that season, which ranked 6th in the NAHL. Former Minnesota Wilderness and current Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo equaled that mark last season, but did it with over 400 less saves, which was a testament to how great Tadazak’s 2010-11 season really was.
Tadazak led the Warriors to the North Division playoff title and a berth in the Robertson Cup Championship in 2011 in Topeka. Through Tadazak’s amazing play, the Warriors found themselves in the title game against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Although the 4-2 loss was not what the Warriors and Tadazak had hoped for, it did not lessen the accomplishments of what turned out to be one of the greatest goaltending seasons in NAHL history.
For his efforts, Tadazak was named the NAHL Most Valuable Player, the Goaltender of the Year and also was named to the All-NAHL Team. He fashioned a 27-9-5 record, including a league-leading nine shutouts. His .944 save percentage was the highest mark in NAHL history, and his 1.77 goals-against average ranked second best in the league.
Now at Army, Tadazak has made significant contributions during his time there. He has appeared in 51 career NCAA Division I games. In two of his three seasons, he has posted a save percentage above 90%.
Tadazak said the following in an interview regarding his decision to go into the military and attend Army:
"I think it says a lot about the kind of character you have and person you are if you can come to Army, survive here, and be successful," Tadazak said. "I know I'm doing something that I can be proud of, my parents can be proud and people from my town that know me will be proud of and respect. Yeah, I want to pursue the possibility of going pro someday, but serving your country is definitely more honorable than just playing sports," Tadazak said. "That's why I chose to come here."