AMARILLO, TX – With everything that John Rey has accomplished and the hard work he has done, it seems only fitting that he takes this next step.
The Amarillo Bulls, back-to-back South Division Champions, and 2012 NAHL overall regular season champions, announced today (Friday) that John Rey has been named team captain for the 2012-2013 season.
"John is a hard working blue collar player," said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. "Everything that he has done with the Bulls has been because of his hard work. He's going to be a big piece for us and help mentor the new guys because he has been there.
"He hasn't had everything go his way in the two years he has been here. One of the things we look for in a leader is somebody who can go to the new guys and put their arm around them and say, don't worry, it's going to get better. You have to stick with it."
Williams said Rey has great leadership qualities and is thrilled for the young man.
"The biggest thing that I told him is to go out there and just be him," he commented. "Don't go out there and be Coach Williams, Coach Russo or Derek Hills or Joe Kozlak. Just be John Rey and take out all of the things you have learned from your captains and all of your leaders and find the best way to be the captain and lead your team."
John Rey said it's an honor to be named captain of the team and follow the footsteps of Derek Hills, Joe Kozlak and Matt Johnson.
"I hope I can carry on the great leadership of the past captains of this team," Rey said from his home in New Jersey. "Being under Coach (Dennis) Williams and Coach (Rocky) Russo the last two years, I have a pretty good understanding of what they are looking for. I know I am going to make my mistakes but I am going to do my best to lead this team and get them back to the Robertson Cup and hopefully win it all."
John Rey's story dates back to the first summer of the Bulls franchise. The young New Jersey native arrived at a Try-Out camp looking for a spot on the team. After some hard work and perseverance Rey was named to the Inaugural team.
"He's a guy who came to our first camp in Philadelphia and made it all on his own," Williams said. "Each summer between years one and two he got not only better as a hockey player, but as a young man. He breathes hockey. From day one until now it's like night and day. He is confident in himself and in his teammates."
In his first season with the Bulls, Rey notched two goals and added five assists for seven points in 41 games. He was a plus six and had 62 minutes in penalties.
The Bulls won 36 games in their first season and captured the 2011 South Division title and a trip to the Robertson Cup National Championship Tournament in Topeka, KS.
The evolution of John Rey as a player started during the second half of that first season and quickly rose to become a major figure in the Bulls attack during the second season.
After more hard work and effort during the off-season, Rey developed into the top defenseman in the North American Hockey League. He led all d-men with eight goals and 43 assists for 51 points in 60 games. Rey was plus 64, and had 142 penalty minutes and 148 shots.
His success on the ice was part of an outstanding season for the Bulls which finished 46-7-7 with 99 points and the NAHL Overall Regular Season Championship, the South Division regular season and playoff titles. The Bulls also advanced to their second straight Robertson Cup National Championship Tournament where they were beaten in the National Semi-Final.
Rey's play was noticed by the NAHL and he was chosen as the Most Outstanding Defenseman and selected to the All NAHL team.
"It's hard to put it all into perspective," said Rey. "Two years ago, I did whatever I could to make this team and I am thankful that the coaching staff saw something in me. The first year I worked hard to try to get into the line-up and then in the off season continued that and got more responsibility on the team. I did the best that I could do with the opportunity that was given to me."
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)