With training camp on the doorstep it’s easy to overlook some of the successes of the 2012-2013 season. New Bozeman Head Coach Mark Vichorek isn’t taking the achievements of two of his players for granted at all this summer. Two former Central Wisconsin Saints that played for Vichorek the past two seasons, Mike Tiberi Jr. and Kevin McMorrow, have committed to playing Division III College Hockey for Becker College in Massachusetts.
The two players were winners of the MNJHL’s award for top defenseman. Tiberi was the Saints leading point getter for all skaters with 50 points in 44 games. Tiberi leaves junior hockey holding nearly every Saints record for defensemen. Tiberi was also named the team captain last season. “Coach [Vichorek] named me team captain and that really meant a lot to me. That he trusted that I could lead 24 other guys and help us come together and win was huge for my confidence.”
Tiberi and his defense partner, McMorrow, played huge minutes for the Saints last season. Often they would log between 30-40 minutes per night! McMorrow was named an assistant captain in 2012-2013 and is behind only Tiberi in the Saints record books. “As veterans on my teams they were very good leaders and showed the younger players what it takes to make it to the next level. Having experienced vets like that is so big for any level hockey team.” Said Vichorek.
Tiberi, or Tibs, as he was known to his teammates was a workhorse on and off the ice. He was always striving to improve. He has an excellent sense of offense as a former forward. He knows how to get the puck to the net and has a laser beam shot. His defensive play has improved in past years and he can now be counted on in any situation defensively.
Tiberi attributes much of his success to his coach. “It was a dream to play more hockey after juniors and now I have a chance to do it and I owe a lot of that to Coach Vichorek.” Said the former Saint. “He taught me a lot about playing. He also taught me about being a person and being a leader on and off the ice. I have had a lot of coaches good and bad, but I have to say that I have had none that worked harder and cared about his players more than Coach Vichorek.”
McMorrow, or Mac, might have been the smoothest skater in all of tier III junior hockey last season. He had the ability to dominate a game and his ability to possess the puck and make calm, reasoned decisions was unparalleled. McMorrow saw time in the NAHL early in his career, but saw a chance to advance with Coach Vichorek.
"Having a chance to play college hockey at any level is a great opportunity. I am not sure I would or could have gotten this opportunity without Coach Vichorek.” McMorrow Explained. “He called me several times to come and play for him and I am so glad I did. He gave me the opportunity to showcase my skills and work with some other good players to further my career. If I haven't come to play for Coach I really don't think I would be playing at Becker College. There are coaches that say they care and there are coaches that truly care and Coach Vichorek is one that truly cares about his players.”
Vichorek couldn’t be happier for his two stars. “I think it is great that Tibs and Mac got the rewards they worked so hard to achieve. They worked very hard on and off the ice to prepare for this opportunity. For them to have a chance to play at a very good Division III program like Becker College is awesome. These are two very talented players that applied themselves and listened and learned all that I could teach them along with other coaches along the way. When Coach Steve Hoar of Becker called me and asked if I had any players that could play for him and at that level, these two and a few other certainly came to mind. For every coach it makes you proud to have a hand in the success of your players. It will be fun to watch and see how these guys develop more over the next four years and continue to succeed. ”
He added that Tiberi and McMorrow made smart decisions in their careers by choosing Tier III hockey. “When players come to play for me I will do everything in my power to get them opportunities like Mike and Kevin worked for. They earned this chance and should be very proud of themselves. A player can make it from whatever level they play. They made their way from the Tier III level and will be playing with a lot of guys that played in the USHL or the NAHL. Too many players feel playing Tier III is a death sentence for their careers and these two plays have shown that is not true. They never gave up on their dream and it paid off.”
Vichorek will bring that level of commitment and success to Bozeman this year and he is looking for his next success stories right now.