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Slew of California, Nevada talents bag NCAA destinations

 

blaszczak

The 2016-17 season firmly in the rear-view mirror, a slew of California and Nevada natives will be off to NCAA institutions in the fall, having recently committed to their future schools.

Five players have chosen their destinations as of late, with Brennan Blaszczak (Las Vegas, University of Alaska-Fairbanks), Tyler Rockwell (San Jose, Michigan Tech University) and Brian Williams (San Diego, Colorado College) going the NCAA Division I route, while David Marabella (Clovis, Milwaukee School of Engineering) and Alex Stoley (Manteca, Concordia University) are taking the NCAA D-III path.

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“I’m excited to play for the Nanooks because it’s always been my dream to play at the D-I level,” Blaszczak said. “UAF was a good fit for me because my speed is my greatest asset and they have an Olympic-size rink up there. They also have top-notch facilities and an all-around great atmosphere and I can’t wait to head up there and get things rolling.”

Blaszczak (pictured) led the Springfield Jr. Blues (North American Hockey League) this past season with 25 goals in 58 games.

Rockwell and Williams both played for the Wenatchee Wild of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) last year and made their commitments within days of one another.

“Michigan Tech is a prestigious school where I am able to get a great education,” said Rockwell, a San Jose Jr. Sharks graduate. “The coaches are passionate and excited about their program and provide world class treatment for their players. Another drawing aspect was the atmosphere around the school and how centered it was around hockey.”

Last season, Rockwell tallied 27 points in 57 games from the Wenatchee back end.

Williams played two seasons with the LA Selects and another with the LA Jr. Kings before embarking on a five-year junior career in the NAHL, United States Hockey League and BCHL. Ironically, he skated in Wenatchee in 2012-13 when the club was in the NAHL before finishing in 2016-17 with the Wild’s entry in the BCHL.

“I first decided to go to Wenatchee because I knew that I would develop the most by playing junior hockey, and I knew that Wenatchee was a great spot to be in,” said Williams. “I knew they had a coaching staff that had the players’ best interest in mind.”

He had his most productive season this past year, collecting 59 points (21 goals) in 49 games.

Both Marabella and Stoley played for the Lone Star Brahmas in 2016-17, capturing the NAHL’s Robertson Cup national championship to culminate the year in May.

Now, both have earned college opportunities.

“It’s a great feeling (to be committed) and I think MSOE is going to be a great balance between athletics and education,” said Marabella, a forward. “I’m very excited about what the next four years have in store for me. I hope to be a big impact player, playing a lot of minutes in all situations and really boosting my offensive production. I feel that I can take my game to an even higher level and I think the NAHL experience has prepared me well.

“Words can’t describe the feeling of playing your last year of juniors and going out as a champion.”

As for Stoley, the defenseman is ready to compete in the NCAA at Minnesota-based Concordia.

“I liked the school from all aspects,” Stoley said. “It has very good academics, their hockey program does well every year and the college is in a nice area that I could see myself living for the next four years. (Being committed) is what I wanted from the start, being able to get my education while still playing hockey at a high level.

“Finishing on top was definitely a bonus that most guys don’t get to do. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Photo/NAHL

— Matt Mackinder