AMARILLO, TX – What began as a friendship on the ice during hockey schools, had led to a new challenge of working together for the common goal of returning the Amarillo Bulls to success in the North American Hockey League’s South Division.
Head Coach Matt Nicholson and Tony Attanucci (pronounced A-ta-new-chee) worked together for the past four years in the Pittsburgh area and became friends over the course of that time. It’s what led to Nicholson bringing Attanucci to the Bulls family.
The Amarillo Bulls announced today (Thursday) that Tony Attanucci has been named Assistant Coach replacing Mike Watt who moved on to the Bloomington Thunder of the United States Hockey League.
“I couldn’t be happier that Tony accepted the position,” Head Coach Nicholson said. “Tony and I have known one another for about 3 or 4 years of just living in the Pittsburgh Area and having taught private lessons, as well as working hockey camps together.”
“I identified Tony as having a great background in coaching the Tier I Elite League, one of the top League’s that the NAHL recruits out of.”
Nicholson said one of the biggest things he liked about Tony is his character, hard work and unique skill sets that will help the organization.
“Tony has a distinctive background of having played forward, but will be working with the defense so he will bring a unique perspective there.” he said. “He is finishing his Exercise Science Degree so in terms of off-ice strength and conditioning, he will be a wealth of knowledge. He is very good at skill development and I witnessed that working with him on the ice. I think the players will enjoy that aspect. He is calm, communicates well, and will be there for the players.”
Attanucci, a native of Jefferson Hills, PA, was most recently the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U16 National Team, where he worked alongside US Olympic and NHL Stanley Cup Champion winning coach Dan Bylsma.
“It’s been exciting so far in the short 36-hour period that I have been here,” Attanucci said. “I have found a comfort level with people here and I’ve started to establish a relationship with the players. I’m excited to put my stamp on the process.”
Attanucci said one area that he thinks will improve quickly on the team is the fitness level.
“We are going to have guys nicked and banged up, but in the end the new process of how to train and prepare for games will help them get a jump start on recovery and also prevent those types of injuries from happening,” he said.
One of the areas that both Nicholson and Attanucci know well is recruiting. Nicholson with his time spent at Robert Morris University, and Attanucci as Head Coach of the U16-U18 programs in the Tier I Elite League.
“My experience and responsibility was developing players from U16 and U18 Tier I elite hockey and getting them to the next level (NAHL),” Attanucci said. “Now, we have the kids at this level who we are working with to move on to the NCAA. From a recruiting stand point for us, I have a good heart beat at the U16 and U18 talent level. Matty’s experience is at the DI level and that will establish a good pipeline.”
Matt Nicholson and Tony Attanucci continue to work with the Bulls in training camp at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The team has been hard at with two-a-days on the ice as well as off-ice conditioning knowing the season is just over two weeks away from facing off.
There is still plenty of time for fans to purchase or renew Season Tickets and help mark the 20th consecutive year of Hockey in the Texas Panhandle by supporting the Amarillo Bulls in their 6th season.
Full and Half Season Tickets as well as 10 game Flex Packs give fans a variety of ticket options at a great savings over walk up prices. For further information on pricing and seat locations, please drop by 301 South Polk in the Amarillo Building or call 806-242-1122.