Sunday, December 11, 2016

Meet Marek Wazny: 16-Year-Old UNH Commit

2019 UNH Commit
Forward Marek Wazny
"Marek is a smooth skater with soft hands and natural offensive instincts." Neutral Zone
"Decent size forward, slippery skills, good reads, vision, offensive instincts." Russ Bitely,
"Sum of his parts allows him to be a constant force on the ice." U.S. Hockey Report
These are just a few of the accolades hockey scouts have recently bestowed on Marek Wazny, UNH's new commit. The 16-year-old Wazny (DOB: 2-1-2000) has verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer from the UNH hockey program and is projected to enroll in the Fall of 2019.

Currently listed as a 6'1", 161 lbs., left-shot forward with the North Jersey Avalanche 16U team, Wazny began to turn heads in July, 2015 at the USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp. In a field including notables such as Jake Wise (NTDP U17, BU commit), Oliver Wahlstrom (NTDP U17, Harvard commit) and Joel Farabee (NTDP U17, former UNH commit, current BU commit), Marek Wazny tied for 2nd in scoring with 4 goals and 6 assists in 5 games. The scouts at U.S. Hockey Report ranked Wazny in the "A" Group of forwards (along with Wahlstrom & Farabee) and wrote:
"Dallas, Texas native competes hard for loose pucks which, in turn, affords him opportunities to create chances offensively. Doesn’t have one skill that trumps the rest, but the sum of his parts allows him to be a constant force on the ice."
As Marek tells us in the interview at the end of this article, he and his family moved in 2014 from Texas to Mississauga, Ontario, where his parents were born and raised. During the 2015-16 season, Wazny posted 8 goals and 4 assists for the Toronto Junior Canadians Minor Midget team.

Last summer, Wazny earned an invitation to the 2016 USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp through the Rocky Mountain District. He scored 2 goals and added an assist in 5 games and was selected to Select 16 All-Star game. The scouting report from Neutral Zone** ranked Wazny as a "B" forward and provided this assessment:

"Wazny entered the camp after a strong season with one of Ontario’s top programs in the Jr. Canadiens. He was one of the leading scorers at the Select 15’s and in the first game looked like an “A” range player, but as the week went on he became less and less noticeable. He’s a much better player than he played. Marek is a smooth skater with soft hands and natural offensive instincts. He carries the puck effortlessly with his head up and can either pass, stickhandle or speed passed defenseman on the rush and used all three effectively here. He finished his checks, hunted down opponents on the backcheck and broke up several plays in his end. He is a complete player who was just missing that dynamic offensive element that we saw from him during the year. Wazny was drafted in the sixth round of the USHL Draft by Chicago."
Rating - 3 3/4 out 5 Stars.

** Reprinted by permission of Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting at Neutral Zone.

The Chicago Steel selected Marek Wazny in the 6th round (86th overall) of the 2016 Futures Draft last May. He participated in their tryout camp in June and was featured in this video interview:

Marek Wazny
North Jersey Avalanche
Marek was assigned to the Chicago Steel's affiliate list. He decided to play this season for the North Jersey Avalanche 16U. In Tier 1 Elite Hockey League competition against the top midget minor teams in the nation, Wazny has scored 12 goals and 7 assists in 20 games. He is tied for 4th in goal-scoring. The Avalanche is the only team in the 24-team league with an undefeated record (20-0-0).

At the Tier 1 Elite U16 Showcase in New Jersey last month, Wazny tallied 2 goals and an assist in 4 games. The Neutral Zone scouts provided this progress report:
"Marek had a pretty good weekend and put some points up. He is always an honest player with decent hands who plays both ends. If he could score more consistently he can reach another level. He looked to be figuring his offensive game out some and the upside is evident."
Marek Wazny's hockey journey began with youth hockey teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area near his hometown of Frisco, Texas. His Dad, Mark Wazny, originally from Mississauga, Ontario, coached him on a couple teams in the former North Texas Hockey League. The Dallas Stars were instrumental in starting the NTXHL. A growing number of college players took up the game in warm weather climates thanks to the NHL's expansion into the south and southwest. Current UNH Wildcat Dylan Maller started playing hockey very young at a facility affiliated with the Florida Panthers near his hometown of Parkland.


I had an opportunity to interview Marek Wazny, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?

Marek Wazny: There were a lot of reasons why I chose UNH but I'd say the main reasons would be the great coaching staff and the amazing hockey and school atmosphere. Hockey East is also one of the best leagues to be apart of.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Marek Wazny: There were a few other college programs that I was looking at and deciding on. I visited a good amount of schools on the east coast and in the Big 10 but I knew UNH was the one for me.

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?

Wazny: The coaches and I have talked about coming in as a freshman in the 2019-20 season, however it is possible for it to change.

Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

Wazny: In my hockey development I believe the best parts of my game would be my 200-foot game and decision making. Currently, I'm working on improving my play away from the puck and my shot.

Lowry: You grew up playing youth hockey in the North Texas Hockey League near your hometown of Frisco, Texas. How did you get interested in playing ice hockey in an area of the country that rarely sees ice on the ground?

Wazny: Growing up in Texas, I started playing hockey at a really early age. My father played hockey throughout his life and coached where we lived in Texas. He was the one who influenced me to pursue hockey as a hobby and possibly a career.

Lowry: In 2014, you moved to Mississauga, Ontario to play bantam and minor midget hockey. What factors lead you to pursue your hockey career north of the border?

Wazny: Well, one reason was both of my parents were born and raised in Canada so they always wanted to move back to where their roots were. Also, we agreed that the hockey in Canada would be more convenient as far as travel and level of play.

Lowry: Over the last two summers, you've had success at the USA Hockey Player Development Camps. You tied for second in scoring at the 2015 Select 15 Camp and were selected to the All-Star Team at the 2016 Select 16 Camp. How do you think your skills and development compare with the other top US forwards born in 2000?

Wazny: The 2000 age group, in my opinion, is a very skilled age group for forwards which was displayed at the USA Hockey National Camps. Comparing myself to the best forwards in the US for my age is hard to do but I'm always trying to improve my skills and development.

Lowry: In May, the Chicago Steel drafted you in the 6th round of the USHL Phase I Draft. You participated in the Steel's Tryout Camp in June and were included in their Affiliate List. Chicago has only one 2000-born player on their active roster. Do you anticipate playing for the Steel in the 2017-18 season?

Wazny: Playing in USHL next year for the Chicago Steel would be an awesome opportunity that is achievable if I keep developing my game.

Lowry: So far this season, you've scored 16 goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the North Jersey Avalanche 16U team. Why did you choose to come back to the states to play for North Jersey?

Wazny: Being drafted by Chicago Steel, it would be easier playing in New Jersey rather than Canada. That way the team can see me more and I can have a better chance of playing in the coming years.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? When do you anticipate graduating from high school?

Wazny: Academically, I would consider myself a good student who enjoys math and science. I plan to graduate from high school in the 2017-18 year.


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