Topeka forward Gornall makes NCAA DI commitment
January 19, 2015
By Arch Ecker, Topeka RoadRunners
The Topeka RoadRunners, a member of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce team captain Mike Gornall has made his commitment to play NCAA Division I college hockey at the Air Force Academy beginning in the fall of 2015.
Gornall, a native of Irwin, PA began playing hockey at the age of 6. “My older brother was interested in playing hockey so I figured I'd give it a shot as well”, he recalls. “The game just came to me naturally and throughout the years I continued to improve. I figured if I put in the time and effort, I could do something special.”
He skated with the Pittsburgh Hornets U16 team and was third on the team in scoring. The following season he moved up to the U18 club where he skated for 2 seasons, finishing just one point behind the team leader in the 2011-12 season. In the 2012-13 season, playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 team, he led the team in assists and averaged well over a point per game. His performance earned him a call-up to the Topeka RoadRunners where he skated in 4 games, and notched his first junior hockey goal. He made the Topeka roster the following season and played himself into an every night type of player who has a solid physical presence to complement his tenacious on-ice work ethic and skill set.
Topeka Head Coach / GM Scott Langer likes what Gornall brings to the table. “Mike is a big bodied, tough to play against forward”, he says. “He plays both ends of the rink with a high compete level.” And, alluding to Gornall’s academic prowess, Langer adds, “His intelligence both on and off the ice will take him far.” Now that his college commitment is made, Langer adds, “Mike has been one of our hardest workers day in and day out since becoming a RoadRunner. His commitment to play hockey and receive an education at the Air Force Academy is a testament to his work ethic and character.”
Identified as Team Captain for the 2014-15 season, Gornall has exploded offensively, averaging better than a point per game over the first half of the season. He is viewed as a teammate who naturally leads by example.
Gornall had previously expressed a desire to pursue a degree in actuary science. “The Academy does not offer the actuary science major but it does have an applied mathematics major which can lead me down the path to becoming an actuary”, he explains. “The Academy offers so many different directions to take in life so I'm going to try new things and explore new options to see where I want to go in the future.”
Asked why he selected Air Force to continue his hockey career, he said, “I really liked the coaching staff and how I’ve been treated throughout the process, but beyond that there were multiple aspects of the Academy as to why I decided to commit. One of those would be the success of the cadets once they leave. You're already lined up with a career right out of college.” He added, “Another is that there are no student loans or money owed to the university. It's a good feeling knowing that I can go to school for free and in a way, repay my parents for all the money they invested in me for hockey. Lastly, the campus, as well as the area surrounding the campus is absolutely beautiful.” The feeling of finalizing his college plans is incredible, he says. “It's such a relief knowing that this isn't my final year of hockey. Knowing that I have another four years of good, competitive hockey is a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders.”
Gornall acknowledges the help and support he’s received over his career. “I'd like to thank Coach (Scott) Langer and Coach (Josh) Kamrass for aiding me in the growth of myself on the ice as well as off. Also, I'd like to thank my teammates for believing in me and putting me in a position to be successful on the ice. Last but not least, I'd like to thank my parents. There's no way I can repay them the love and support they have provided me throughout my career. Without them, none of this would have ever been possible!”
The Air Force Academy is based in Colorado Springs, CO, and the hockey team is a member of Atlantic Hockey, competing in Division I of the NCAA. They play their home games in the friendly confines of the Cadet Ice Arena, with head coach Frank Serratore who’s held the reins since 1997. Gornall will be the seventh player in the franchise to commit to the Falcons, following Peter Shenk, Brandon Johnson, Eric Artman, Ryan Doucet, Tony Thomas, and Ross Luedtke.
Gornall becomes the seventh RoadRunner on the current roster with Division I college plans finalized, joining Matej Tomek (North Dakota), Daniel Brickley (Minnesota State – Mankato), Shawn Brennan and Drew Vogler (Merrimack), Carlos Fornaris (Rensselaer Polytechnic) and Will Scherer (Brown University).