The Kenai River Brown Bears, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announce that forward and captain Brett Lubanski has announced his commitment to Holy Cross, where he will continue is hockey career playing for the Crusaders. Holy Cross is a member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic Hockey Association.
Lubanski (5’11/185) is in his third year in the NAHL and the Brown Bears. He currently leads the Brown Bears in scoring with 32 points in 26 games played. He also is currently tied for 5th this season in the NAHL with 23 assists. Last season, Lubanski tied for 3rd in the NAHL with 48 assists.
A native of Farmington Hills, Michigan, Lubanski said he is thrilled with the commitment to Holy Cross. “It is a dream come true for me personally. My goal when I came to the NAHL was to obtain a Division I scholarship, so I am very happy I was able to accomplish that,” said Lubanski. “I also think that the Brown Bears organization has really become one of the better ones in the league and I am proud to have had a hand in that.”
Lubanski, 20, played in the 2011 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor this past February and like so many players who play in the event, Lubanski said he felt like interest from colleges really started to pick up then. “It was a great and fun event for me and all the guys. I knew the interest was there from several Division I schools,” said Lubanski. “However, after the Showcase in September is when Holy Cross really came to the forefront of schools I wanted to attend.
Lubanski is on track to eclipse his 63-point season last year, thanks in large part to playing on a Kenai River team that he considers a true Robertson Cup contender. “I think we are a team of competitors this year and there isn’t a lot of quick in that lockerroom. We are going to show up every night and give a 100% effort and leave it all on this ice,” said Lubanski. “As a captain it gives you 100% confidence in your teammates and makes you feel good that going into the playoffs we have a very good chance to represent our division at the Robertson Cup.”
Kenai River head coach Oliver David said he takes pride with a player like Lubanski committing to an NCAA Division I school. “He has always been a player that has done things the right way. He comes to the rink every day and competes,” said David. “He plays with a lot of confidence and he has been a great leader for this team during his three seasons. During my three years here, he is who I built the team around, he is the cornerstone of what we are all about and he has been one of the biggest reasons that this program has improved each season, so it gives all of us a great sense of pride to see him be able to take the next step in his life and hockey career.”
Lubanski said he hopes what he learned playing in the NAHL will help him be an impact player right away at Holy Cross. “The NAHL is a league of maturity. The more experience you gain in the league, the better off you are going to be at the next level,” said Lubanski. “I think players going onto the NCAA from the NAHL are prepared better because they have learned how to live away from home and understand what it’s like playing hockey every day during a season that lasts eight to nine months.”
Holy Cross is led by head coach Paul Pearl, who has forged a 243-242-59 record at Holy Cross over 16 years and has been the man behind the bench in seven of the nine most successful seasons in Holy Cross history. Last season, Pearl was named the Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. Along with 15 post-season appearances in 16 years, Pearl led the Crusaders to their first two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003-04 and 2005-06, while he coached the Crusaders to their first ever NCAA Tournament win with the 4-3 overtime victory over Minnesota on March 24, 2006. “I think Holy Cross has a great coaching staff and a very prestigious academic and athletic tradition so it was a very easy and gratifying choice to make,” said Lubanski.