Advancing through junior hockey to the ranks of Division I college is a challenging task, and for one more RoadRunner veteran, the journey has a happy ending. Andrew Blazek, a native of Pittsburgh, PA has made the roster at Robert Morris University. While he is yet undecided on his major, he credits the RMU staff for being active in helping him with the decision.
     His hockey career began at an early age. \”I started skating as soon as I could walk, with a little help from my Dad of course\”, Blazek recalls. \”I liked hockey because my dad played, and he still plays today.\” He received two varsity letters for hockey at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh. His first taste of the NAHL came with Topeka\’s division rival Texas Tornado. When the Tornado went inactive for arena upgrades, Blazek became a free agent. \”When I played for Texas we got swept by Topeka in the first round of the playoffs. I didn\’t know too many of the teams in the league so I picked from what I knew.\” He added, \”Topeka had a great group of guys with a great coach and I wanted to be a part of a national championship team. We came close (losing to St. Louis in the Division Finals) but in no way do I regret choosing Topeka.\”
     A junior hockey program measures itself not just in wins and losses, but in the successes in developing young scholar athletes. In the case of Andrew Blazek, it\’s a clear win for both sides. \”I developed the most during my time in Topeka. The practices were intense and I played with skill guys like Jordan George and Andy Inderieden who taught me some hockey sense.\” He went to talk about his coach. \”Coach Langer got me on the ice and helped with recruiting. If it wasn\’t for Coach Langer and the rest of the guys I wouldn\’t be playing Division 1 hockey this year.\” Asked if he could offer any advice to the current crop of RoadRunners working through the system, he replied, \”I would tell the rookies to get their names out there any way possible, and to develop their skills because college hockey is a lot harder than juniors.\”
     Blazek\’s path was even more difficult because he wasn\’t offered a scholarship, he had to try out as a \”walk-on\”. He described the process. \”The walk on process wasn\’t easy, I called Coach (Derek) Schooley to check to see if there was even a spot available. I got a chance to tryout and played well right away. The sequence of events that happened in order for me to make the team was rare. It would be a lot easier and less stressful to get a scholarship.\” Walking on to a roster is something Blazek had experience with. Prior to playing for the Texas Tornado, he was the only player in franchise history to make the USHL\’s Des Moines Buccaneers roster as a walk on.
     Blazek will wear uniform number 33 for the Robert Morris Colonials who compete in the CHA for one more season before moving into the Atlantic Hockey Association for 2010-11.