Junda excited for opportunity with Pioneers
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For Denver native Rudy Junda, getting the chance to play NCAA Division I hockey in his hometown is truly special, even if he had to be proactive in the recruiting process, taking it upon himself to contact the University of Denver coaching staff once his 2013-14 campaign ended.
“My good friend, Evan Ritt, who was a freshman at Denver last year, told me the Pioneers were looking to fill an opening and I jumped at the opportunity,” said Junda, who played for the North American Hockey League’s Wichita Falls Wildcats last season.
“I was trying to keep my cool, stay positive, and not get too high or too low emotionally. I really wasn’t nervous; I was just grateful to have the opportunity to visit the school and meet with the coaching staff.”
Then came the waiting game, but it was well worth it when the forward’s phone rang with news of his acceptance to the school and the hockey program.
“I grew up a few minutes from the campus, going to Pioneers games,” said Junda, a Rocky Mountain RoughRiders graduate.
Junda, 21, credits former Wichita Falls head coach Paul Baxter – now the team’s president and general manager – for preparing him for the Division I ranks.
“He’s done a lot for me,” said Junda. “The style of play he taught prepared me well for college, but I don’t think anything is going to be more valuable than what Paul taught me about being a competitor.”
Which is sure to serve him well with the Pioneers.
“I’ve thought about playing D-I hockey for so long, and I couldn’t be happier to do so for a school I grew up around in a city I love,” said Junda.
– Matt Mackinder