The Florida Eels are honored to announce our 7th College Commitment this season A huge congratulation goes out to Brian Kozek as he commits to Framingham State University. He is no doubt one of the Florida Eels top academic students. He had many NCAA Div. III options. He was honored to have been recruited by so many well-known and respected college coaches from some very prestigious colleges and universities. No doubt FSU loves what they saw in him both from a tangible and intangible basis.
Kozek is from Chicago, IL. He has been with our Eels Junior program for 4 years. He is a model for USPHL and the Florida Eels player development. Initially he played for the Eels Empire team, then the USP3 team, then the Elite team and this year our Premier team. It was all about developing his skill set and getting him ready for college hockey. This season he was voted as team Captain as he was also Captain on his USP3 team and assistant Captain on the Elite team. He did an incredible job with leadership responsibilities on each team he was on.
Florida Eels General Manager Scarpaci says:
“Brian Kozek has great vision on the ice. He has tremendous passion and is one of the most dedicated and determined young men who ever laced up a pair of skates for the Eels. He has one of the best work ethic I have ever seen in a player. He arrives at practice a minimum of 1 hour before anyone else and remained an extra hour shooting 150 pucks each day 5 days a week. This is a very dedicated and determined individual. He realizes in order to make it in life you can’t just put in your time. He works on all of the little things in his game during his down time. These are the ingredients of a successful individual in life whether as hockey player, lawyer, businessman or any craft. That is what makes him so special. I strongly believe he will go far in life. He will excel at anything he does.”
He is a great character young man who comes from extremely loving and supportive parents: Anne and Mike Kozek, who were supportive in every way to facilitate and allow their son to reach and realize his dreams and goals of advancing to the Next Level: College Hockey. In fact, Mrs. Kozek moved to Florida and billeted numerous Eels Junior players over the past 4 seasons and has been real surrogate mom to our players, and has had a major impact on their lives. The Kozek’s have been dedicated volunteers with the Eels program.
Eels Premier coach, Frankie Scarpaci noted in his player profile and scouting report:
This Eels veteran has a big leadership role. A big physical defenseman that plays in all 3 zones. A guy you want in the trenches with you in big games. As a defenseman, he makes excellent first passes out that college coaches look for. He battles extremely hard in front of his net. He plays like he has deeded rights to the crease. Also, a monster on the boards. Possess excellent gap control. Block shots. In addition to his defensive skill, he has excellent offensive abilities. Indeed, he is the lead leading goal scorer for a defenseman. He has a hard-heavy shot from the blueline that gets through traffic. On the powerplay and regular shift. He gets sticks in lanes on the penalty kill. This season like in his previous seasons with the Eels, Brian was selected by a panel of coaches to the league’s All Star Team.
Kozek is looking forward to becoming a FSU Ram and playing for Coach Guy Angers. FSU plays in the prestigious Massachusetts state college league MASCAC. Brian will be playing against Plymouth State, Salem State, Worcester State University, Fitchburg State, Westfield State, and the University of Mass Dartmouth. Coach Angers has been coaching for over 8 years at FSU. He is building a strong program that his players and the University can be proud of. Kozek is use to a coach like Coach Angers who brings enormous passion, excitement and creativity to a team. Brian is excited as well as he is joining 2 former Eels teammates: Goalie Nolan Greene and forward Michael Gennello who play for the FSU men’s hockey program.
We wish the best of luck to Brian. There is no doubt that he will make us all proud in his endeavors and studies at college.
Atlanta Junior Knights forward Brendan Ferguson has committed to Milwaukee School of Engineering! MSOE is a great academic school with a well-recognized NCAA D3 hockey program. “We are very proud of Brendan. This proves that a kid from Suwanee, Georgia can make it by working hard and believing in the process!” declared Pat Ferguson, Brendan’s dad.
For Brendan, it’s been a long road growing up in Georgia playing hockey. He began playing with the Ice Bandit Youth Hockey program, where he was known as a physical player, racking up lots of penalty minutes. He then entered the Atlanta Knights Junior program, playing under Coach Kevin St Jacques and Coach Ralph Barahona. Brendan quickly learned a valuable lesson his first year of Junior play. “In the first game of the year Brendan took a bad penalty, right in front of the bench! When he came out of the penalty box I sat him”, said Coach Kevin. “It's always hard to sit kids but I wanted to send a message to the whole team that unnecessary penalties weren’t going to be tolerated. It didn't matter who took them.”
Pat states Brendan learned early in his Junior career that taking unproductive penalties would result in being benched. That single moment changed his game for the next 4 years! Brendan continued to work on his game and development, having a productive year by leading his team in scoring and helping his USP3 team go all the way to Boston for the league championship.
During the off-season Brendan trained extremely hard on and off the ice, hoping to make the next level; the Knights Elite team. “Playing for Coach Ralph and Coach Kevin at the Elite level was definitely a goal of mine” said Brendan. "A player should always want the next level.” Brendan played on the Knights Elite team in his sophomore year. He put up good numbers and was named the hardest working player of the year. Brendan attributes his success that year to a disciplined offseason training regimen. Then, during the year end interviews, Brendan and his family met with the coaching staff and discussed Brendan’s future. “It was a big day for us as a family” said Pat. "We sat down with both Coach Kevin and Coach Ralph and after listening to they had to say, we collectively agreed it was time for Brendan to take the next step to the USPHL Premier level.” Reflecting back on that day Coach Kevin states, “I remember sitting there listening as Ralph talked to the Junior Flyers Head Coach, Jared Beach, giving him feedback on Brendan. I was thinking to myself, ‘This is why we coach. It’s all about moving kids to the next level.’ As rewarding as it was, it left a big hole on our Elite team. It’s difficult to replace that kind of work ethic and leadership!”
With the backing of the Atlanta coaches, Brendan headed up to play with the Philadelphia Junior Flyers. “I was nervous, but ready! The game at that level is faster and more skilled” said Brendan. “I had a decent year with seven goals and eight assists in 41 games.” The following year the league created the NCDC level (changed names from Premier to NCDC) and the Flyers organization was not part of the new league. With this change, Brendan was drafted by the PAL Islanders and Coach Dan Marshall of the NCDC; Brendan’s final year of Junior Hockey. It was a tough start for Brendan. While he was one of the team’s leading penalty killers, he didn’t register a single point in the first 15 games. After being released by PAL, Brendan made a phone call to a familiar voice, Coach Kevin St Jacques. “He was down in the dumps, unsure of what to do and I could tell his confidence had taken a hit. I told him ‘Come home and play for my Premier team. I always have a spot for you’ but, being the hardworking kid he is, Brendan wanted to stick it out in the NCDC.” Kevin was not surprised. “It’s in his character to fight through, but I told him he should keep in touch and call me if he needed anything, I would always be here!” A few days later Brendan was picked up by Syracuse’s NCDC team and played three games before Syracuse released him as well. “It was a tough day for our son, being away from home and getting released is never easy; let alone twice in one week!” said Pat.
Coach Kevin finally convinced Brendan to come back to Atlanta and finish the year with his Premier team. A little discouraged and his pride hurt, Brendan came home. As if he never left, Brendan put his gear on and went to work. He had a great Florida showcase in December opening the doors for several NCAA Division III schools to approach him. “After the showcase you could see the glow back on Brendan’s face again! “It was nice to see a kid who's worked so hard and put the time in, on and off the ice, to be rewarded” said Coach Kevin. A true athlete who had experienced so much a month earlier, persevering into a player with several NCAA school options!
“None of this would have been possible if Brendan and Coach Kevin didn't have the relationship they do” said Pat Ferguson. “As parents we put our trust in what the coaches told us way back in his first and second year of Juniors and now here we are! We are so proud of our son who has just committed to a great school. Thank you to Coach Kevin and the Atlanta Knights program for making it possible, GO KNIGHTS! A fitting end as Brendan will start and finish his Junior career as a Knight!”
The Atlanta Junior Knights wish Brendan great success
on and off the ice at MSOE!