AMARILLO, TX – For some players moving away from home at a young age can be difficult one both on and off the ice. Amarillo Bulls forward Joey Molinaro didn’t have a problem with that transition and it has helped him carve out a path to his future.
The Mississauga Ontario native announced his NCAA College Commitment (Tuesday) to Niagara University (Atlantic Hockey) for the 2016-17 season. Molinaro calls coming to Amarillo and the North American Hockey League one of the best decisions he and his family made.
“I owe a lot to Head Coach Matt (Nicholson) who brought me down here and told me what I needed to do to get seen by Scouts,” said Molinaro. “Coming down to Amarillo was probably the best decision I have made in my life. It helped me to get where I am today and this scholarship.”
The power forward arrived in the Texas Panhandle in September to join the Bulls and he became the team’s leading point getter and one of the top players in the South Division. In 32 games for the Bulls, Molinaro has scored 11 goals and added 15 assists for 26 points. That success on the ice was quickly noticed by Division I Scouts. Molinaro headed home for the Christmas Break and went for a visit to Niagara’s Campus where he fell in love with it right away.
“It was a really easy decision for me to make,” said Molinario. “I was given a really good offer and the school is close to home. It couldn’t have worked out any better. It’s a big relief off of my shoulders right now.”
Bulls Head Coach Matt Nicholson said Molinaro was uncertain at first whether he wanted to challenge himself in a tougher league, but quickly had no problems adapting.
“He accepted that challenge and has done a great job,” said Nicholson. “He has been one of our top guys all season long and was rewarded with his scholarship opportunity next year.”
Nicholson said that now Molinario has his scholarship he can elevate his game to another level.
“I have seen that after some players get their commitment their play sky rockets, and goes through the roof because they have a plan and know where they are going,” he commented. “Niagara will be an hour and a half from his home so he will be close for the next three or four years. He will fit in nicely with the guys they have coming in and what they have left in 2016.”
Molinaro said he thrilled to be able to accomplish a life-long dream.
“Ever since I was 16-years-old, I wanted to get an NCAA Scholarship so it is pretty special,” he said. “A lot of players want to come south of the border to try to get one so I have accomplished my objective.”
Molinario said he owes a lot to his parents for getting him where he is today.
“My dad is extremely happy, and as excited about it as I was,” he said. “My Mom and Dad put a lot into helping me get to this stage. They came out to all of my games when I was younger and worked hard so I could get to do this.”
Joey Molinaro becomes the first member of the 2015-16 team to secure an NCAA College Commitment and 60th player in six seasons.
After an off-weekend, the Amarillo Bulls are back on ice this weekend at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The push towards the playoffs begins against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. Friday is Superhero Night Presented by Liberty Tax Service. Lucky T-shirts will be thrown out to fan during the game, and there will be Superheroes on the concourse. Saturday is Back To School Brought To You By Plains Dairy and one lucky fan could win Milk For A Year and a new bike.
Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk or by calling 806-242-1122. Additionally, tickets can also be purchased at the Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Locations including United Supermarkets or online at www.panhandletickets.com.