AMARILLO, TX – Mr. Reliability…
That best describes who defenseman Brett Szajner was to the Amarillo Bulls this past season. Whether it was penalty killing, power play, playing five on five, or blocking shots, Szajner was a staple in and on the Bulls defenseman corps every game.
Now, the Novi, Michigan native hopes to take that reliability and dependability to the next level. The Amarillo Bulls announced today (Tuesday) that Brett Szajner has committed to Utica College, a Division III school located in Utica NY. The Utica College Pioneers play out of the ECAC West Division. Szajner is the 11th member of the 2013-14 team to announce their college plans.
Szajner notched three goals and 24 assists for 27 points in 58 games. He was plus five and had 69 shots on goal. The 5-10 190 pound defender credits his success to Bulls’ Coaching Staff Dennis Williams and Harry Mahood.
“Amarillo is run just like a college program and a lot different than what I was used to in Jamestown,” he said. “Every day you have to compete for your spot for the upcoming weekend, which was a little bit different.
“When I first moved to Amarillo it took some time to adjust to the style of hockey coach Williams wanted us to play, but as the year went along I finally found my spot as a shutdown defender.”
Szajner said the Bulls helped him work on and improve the little things in his game.
“The coaches were very good at taking us out on Mondays and going over the skill sets of what you need to be a good defenseman,” he said. “In other places, I never learned where my stick should be on certain plays and what type of defense I should be playing. Those were the little things that helped me improve.”
Dennis Williams, who coached Szajner and the Bulls during the 2013-14 season, and the team the past four years, said the veteran forward was not just a great player but also a terrific person.
“I am very excited for Brett, who was a delight to coach,” he said. “He logged a lot of minutes for us defensively. His hockey play was fantastic and he was recognized by his peers for being the best defensive defenseman at the year-end banquet – that speaks volumes to the type of player and competitor that he is.”
Williams said Szajner didn’t let the stress of being a 20-year-old bother him and was a great role model for younger players.
“The biggest thing for him was just even keel, and you never knew when things were high or low in his life,” he said. “We had him room with one of the youngest players on our team, Mitchell Vanderburgh. We wanted Mitchell to have a big brother to look up to and Brett was that with his dedication to the game, city and community involvement. He was somebody we wanted our guys to learn from, and he did a lot on and off the ice to help mentor our players. To see him accomplish his goal of playing college hockey, is a terrific feeling.”
Szajner, who becomes the 48th member of the Amarillo Bulls under Dennis Williams’ leadership, to announce his NCAA college commitment, heads to a well known Utica College program that not only is successful on the ice but also ranks among the attendance leaders in the NCAA Division III level.
“I am very excited for this opportunity to keep playing hockey for another four years,” Szajner said. “I will be close enough to where my parents and grandparents can come and see me play.”
Williams, who was an Assistant Coach at Utica College and is also good friends with their current Head Coach Gary Heenan, said Brett is headed to a very solid program.
Gary’s done a great job with their program,” said Williams. “They play in front of big crowds each and every night and I know when Brett returned from his visit that he couldn’t believe the atmosphere and the pace of the game, and how hard they played. I know Brett will go down there and get well coached and continue to do a good job.”
Brett Szajner is the 11th member of the 2013-14 member of the Amarillo Bulls to announce their NCAA College Commitment joining Matt Sieckhaus (Bentley), Roman Ammirato (Union College), Timmy Moore (Robert Morris), Brady Ferguson (Robert Morris), Joe Grabowski (Princeton), Stuart Pomeroy (Princeton), Paul Berrafato (Holy Cross), Tyler Gernhofer (Vermont), Brendan McGuire (Army), and Collin Delia (Merrimack College).
Season Tickets for the 2014-15 5th Anniversary Season of the Amarillo Bulls are currently on sale. Fans are encouraged to purchase or renew their tickets at before the Early Bird Deadline ends on May 26th. Prices are $309 for Silver Level; $405 for Red Level; $449 for Glass Level; $595 for Pit and Children 12 and Under $225. For further information on Season Tickets or Corporate Marketing Partnerships, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.