by John Peterson
Four days after the Austin Bruins finished its season hosting the NAHL’s Robertson Cup Finals, the organization is proud to announce its first post-season college commitment and fourth from the 2014-15 roster.
Defenseman Riese Zmolek (Rochester, MN) has committed to playing his Division 1 college hockey in-state at Minnesota State University-Mankato of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
Zmolek appeared in four November games for the Bruins before playing his senior season of high school hockey at Century HS in Rochester. The 18-year-old returned to Austin after Century’s season ended to skate in eight more games at the end of the regular season.
He appeared in all 13 Bruins playoff games, playing significant minutes on the top defensive pairing with Austin’s assistant captain Jake Arroyo (Bolingbrook, IL), while contributing to the success of the Bruins’ top-ranked penalty kill during the season and into the playoffs. Zmolek scored his first NAHL goal in Game 3 of Austin’s first round series sweep of Aberdeen, and added two assists during the team’s long postseason run.
In four years at Century, Zmolek played in 105 games, scoring 44 goals and adding 58 assists. He set a career high this season with 41 points (20-21–41) in 28 games. In May, he was selected in the second round (29th overall) by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL Phase 2 draft.
Like his father, former NHL defenseman Doug Zmolek, Riese will stay in his home state for college. While the elder Zmolek played for the University of Minnesota from 1989-92 before a 10-year NHL career, Riese (the oldest of four children) will skate for the Mavericks, who entered the NCAA Tournament in March as the nation’s top-ranked team.
Zmolek becomes the third player in Bruins history to commit to Minnesota State, following Casey Jerry (Hudson, WI), who played for the USHL’s RoughRiders this year, and Jason Pawloski (Omaha, NE), who won a Clark Cup Championship with the Indiana Ice in 2013-14 and backstopped the Green Bay Gamblers this season.
Following Zach Driscoll (Apple Valley, MN – St. Cloud State), Trey Dodd (St. Louis, MO – Brown University) and Alex Jasiek (Dartmouth College), Zmolek becomes the fourth commit from the 2014-15 Bruins who won the Central Division regular season and playoff championships and advanced to the Robertson Cup Finals.