Andrew Blazek gets invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect camp

Brooke Smith, Sports Editor

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  Any young hockey player from Pittsburgh will tell you that their goal is to play in the NHL, more specifically for the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

  For men’s hockey junior defenseman, Andrew Blazek, he moved one step closer to that ultimate goal when he was invited to the Penguins prospect camp in July.

  The invite came just two days before the camp started, and it came as a complete surprise to Blazek.

  “I got a call the Saturday morning before the camp started on Monday,” recalls Blazek. “They said that there might be an opening and wanted to know if I was available for camp.  I got excited that’s for sure, but I told them I was available.”

  Men’s hockey head coach, Derek Schooley, had nothing but great things to say about Blazek when the Penguins called and asked his opinion on the junior defenseman.

  “Andrew’s a big kid that skates very well and he’s still learning the position of defense.  He’s only been a defenseman for a year and a half,” said Schooley.  “He started here as a forward and we had some injuries and converted him to defense.”

  Men’s hockey head coach, Derek Schooley, was proud of Blazek for being invited to this camp.

  “I think it’s great for his development, and it will help him be even more ready to start the season,” believes Schooley.  “I think a week of high level hockey and instruction in the summer will do him well and we’re looking forward to him taking the next step as a defenseman.”

  The Colonials captain, Trevor Lewis, was also proud of his teammate, and thought he played great in the scrimmage.

  “I was really excited for Andrew; it is a great opportunity and an honor to be invited.”

  Lewis also realized that Blazek being invited to this camp is not only great exposure for Blazek, but the entire Colonials roster as well.

  “I think it says a lot and allows some of our players to show their abilities at a high level” realized Lewis. “A lot of NHL teams look for a few local kids to come into prospect camps to see what they can do and it’s pretty cool to play with the guys from RMU who have been asked to participate.”

  Not only did Blazek participate in many rigorous on-ice drills, but also had time to do some fun off-ice team building activities.

“It was a great time on-ice and off-ice, it was very hard because I had such short notice and I wasn’t very prepared for it, but just the excitement of being there really helped for that,” recalled Blazek. 

  “The off-ice stuff was pretty cool,” said Blazek.  “We went bowling, and we took some cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, so that was really cool.  So it was just a good experience.”

  It was also a great experience for Blazek because he was able to practice with guys that are already in the pros on various levels.  He also got to spend time with former Penguin, Bill Guerin.

  “There were a lot of really good players there.  The staff was awesome.  Just being around Billy Guerin all week made you feel really comfortable.  I was really intimidated by him at first,” admits Blazek.   “But his job is great for that stuff; he’s the director of player development.  He’s done this before so he really knew a lot and you really learned a lot from his experiences, in general.” 

     After a long week of drills and workouts, there was a scrimmage amongst the prospects that was open to the public.

  Since the scrimmage was held at Consol Energy Center, Blazek had a lot of friends, family and teammates there to support him.

  “I was very fortunate to have a lot of friends and family come out, but it also made me a little more nervous,” admitted Blazek. “I played a little more tentative at first, but once I was able to settle down, it was great to have them there and it really helped my play to know my parents were there and my friends were watching.”

  Being a Pittsburgh native, this experience was extra special for Blazek.

  “I’ve skated at Consol a few times for Robert Morris, and I love playing there,” said Blazek.  “Going to games growing up, you see all of these guys wearing Penguins jerseys and you look up to them, so to finally wear that jersey felt awesome,” recalls Blazek.  “The day I got to camp, was like, ‘I can deal with this, I’m not too nervous’, but when I finally put that jersey on I got pretty nervous.  It was still pretty cool and it was great to wear that logo.”

  In just one short week, Blazek learned a lot that he can bring back to his role as a defenseman at RMU.

  “I can definitely utilize a lot of the different on-ice and off-ice stuff this year and hopefully a lot of the guys already here and the new guys this year will take advantage of that and we can be a better team and program for it, both this year and my senior year”