by Arch Ecker

The Topeka RoadRunners are proud to announce their sixth college commitment of the season, as forward Andrew O’Leary has finalized plans to skate for the Army Black Knights at West Point Academy next season.

It’s been a long road that led O’Leary to his Division I hockey goal. He left his high school team in Hanover, NH after his sophomore year and headed to Shattuck – St. Mary’s where he put up impressive numbers. After graduating he landed briefly in the USHL before being traded to the Green Mountain Glades of the EJHL, bringing him back to his home. The following season he gave the USHL another shot but was released by Sioux Falls right after the Fall Classic, prompting a call from RoadRunners assistant coach R.J. Enga. “I decided right away Topeka was where I wanted to be”, O’Leary recalls. His decision, in hindsight, was the right one. “I have been fortunate to play for some good organizations in the past but I believe what we have here is first class and something special. It's a pleasure coming to the rink every day and being with my teammates and getting coached by two of my favorite coaches I've ever had“. He adds, “"I also enjoy spending time with my billet family. Having a comfortable home-life while playing junior hockey is essential for having success on the ice." He encourages up and coming players that have the option to strongly consider Topeka. “You won't find a better organization to play for. You will receive the best coaching and have the most support in the league.”

On choosing West Point, the 6’0”, 205 lb. O’Leary said it was his recent visit to the campus that clinched the decision. “The coaches were personable and clearly high-quality, the team was a tight-knit bunch of guys, and the academics are top notch”, he said. “I have always wished to play Division 1 college hockey and go to a prestigious academic school, and to me West Point offers the best of both worlds and then some.” Though his major is still undecided, he is leaning toward a management degree.

“My biggest inspiration in life has been my family. My parents have always pushed me and my brothers to be great people”, he said. “My father has been my biggest inspiration in hockey. My Dad's love for hockey has been contagious from the first time I put on skates, and he continues to lend me his knowledge of the game.”  Now, with his college future plans laid out, he turns his attention to the RoadRunners pursuit of the Robertson Cup. “I am getting more and more excited as we approach the playoffs. We are working hard every day to produce a championship team. I think we have a special group that has shown great character.”

O’Leary is the second RoadRunner to select Army as his college destination. Cody Omilusik played in Santa Fe in the 2006-07 season, and this season is a senior co-captain of the Black Knights.  Army competes in the Atlantic Hockey Association. O’Leary becomes the sixth player on this year’s roster to commit to a Division I program, following Michael Hill (Alaska – Fairbanks), the three players headed to Merrimack College (Rasmus Tirronen, Brian Christie, and Justin Hussar), and Jacob Poe (University of Connecticut).