Weselowski sticks to it to improve greatly
Following his freshman season at Bemidji State, Riley Weselowski was uncertain about his hockey future. A highly regarded recruit out of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Weselowski was the league's highest scoring defenseman (20-40--60) his las...
Following his freshman season at Bemidji State, Riley Weselowski was uncertain about his hockey future.
A highly regarded recruit out of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Weselowski was the league's highest scoring defenseman (20-40--60) his last year before joining the Beavers in 2004-05. He was so highly regarded he was one of three finalists for the league's most valuable player award.
Things were light years different his first season at BSU.
"There was such a huge difference," he said. "I came here after two years in Neepawa where I was playing every other shift in every game. It was a major role."
But not quite the same role with Bemidji State as a freshman. Weselowski ended playing in just 21 games, scoring one point on an assist. While he was on the tournament team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, he didn't dress.
"It was very disappointing," he said. "I did a lot of thinking after the season and believed I wasn't playing with confidence and that's very important."
Instead of cashing things in, Weselowski decided to do something about the situation.
"In order to reach the next level, I knew I had to get stronger," he said, "so I decided to stay in Bemidji over the summer with some of the guys and work out hard. Lifted a lot and ran a lot, too."
Immediately prior to the season Weselowski said he had a meeting with BSU assistant coach Bert Gilling to discuss his future.
"(Gilling) told me to concentrate on defense first," Weselowski said, "and once I had that down the offense would come. That meeting really helped me."
Weselowski immediately was placed on a regular defensive rotation with senior Andrew Martens.
Playing along with the talented senior helped make the transition smoother.
Later in the season, the BSU coaches decided to split the pair and teamed Weselowski with freshman Cody Bostock. "I was nervous about the switch," he said, "but I didn't need to be. (Bostock) played like a veteran from the beginning. Things just clicked with us."
Instead of going through the typical sophomore swoon, Weselowski blossomed. "I guess I was an early swooner," he said with a chuckle.
Weselowski played in all 36 games for the Beavers this season, ending with 20 points on a pair of goals and 18 assists.
He was a key member of the Beaver defense that featured the top goals-against average and penalty kill in College Hockey America.
BSU coach Tom Serratore termed the sophomore defender the most improved player for the Beavers during the 2005-06 year.
"He has the ability to become a very good college hockey defenseman," Serratore said.
Not only did he turn things around on the ice, Weselowski excelled in the classroom as well, ending with a 4.0 grade point average while majoring in business with a minor in sports management. He was one of 16 Beavers named to the CHA All-Academic Team.
"I'm very fortunate," said the unassuming Weselowski. "School has never been too tough for me. Also, the academic program at Bemidji State is so great. The professors have been very willing to work with the players when we miss classes by being on the road. My guidance counselor, Doug Leif, has been great as well. If not for all the help, I never could get through like I have been able to."
While Weselowski chose Bemidji State because of the hockey program, he also entered the university with the intention of working hard in the classroom as well.
"I had it in my head it was something I wanted to work hard at," he said. "It's only four years and I wanted to give it my all. I've been fortunate that I've had great people who have helped me out from the time I started hockey in midgets. Coaches, teachers, my parents -- they've all made things very easy for me.
"Now I want to show them all the effort they put in for me was worth it."