That must have been one heck of a visit the Kenai River Brown Bears had to the University of Wisconsin-Stout on Feb. 16.
Brown Bears forward Jonathan Marzec, 20, became the second member of the team to commit to the Division III school in less than a week Wednesday, joining fellow forward Lucas Carroll.
“When we were on the road, we toured a couple of schools in the Wisconsin area,” said Marzec, the billet son of Soldotna’s Brooke Young. “When we went to Stout we had a really good tour.
“They showed us around and treated us right. It’s definitely a place I can call home for four years.”
Marzec, son of Kathy King and Jon Marzec of Spokane, Washington, said he was impressed with Terry Watkins, who has been the men’s varsity coach for 21 years. The Blue Devils fell in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Frozen Four in 2009, and Marzec said the squad is on the rise again.
“They talked to us and felt Jonny and Carroll could help put them over the top,” Worlton said.
Like Carroll, Marzec has a blue-collar appeal.
“He saw how much we travel and how much that puts the odds against us,” Marzec said. “Being on the road over a month, he sees how we work hard and compete.”
Marzec leads the Bears in points and assists with 12 goals and 25 assists in 52 games. He was a sixth-round draft pick and a find of director of scouting Rich Michalowski.
“He didn’t get negative when we were losing at the beginning and he didn’t get negative when we were going through that last losing spell,” Worlton said. “He does his best every day.
“He may not be putting the puck in the net every day, but he works hard and he wants to win, and you’ve got to have that.”
Like Carroll, Marzec also is attracted to the engineering program at Stout. Marzec said he will take his first year in college to decide on an engineering major.
“Kenai is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Marzec said. “Spending a year in Alaska has been one of the coolest things I could probably ever ask for.
“I wish more people around the league recognized how great it is. Nobody would be afraid to come to Kenai and Fairbanks.”