By Corey Hersch, Texas Tornado
The Texas Tornado, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Justin Greenberg has signed a commitment to play NCAA Division I Hockey at Miami University of the newly-formed National Collegiate Athletic Conference. He is planning on forgoing his final two seasons of junior eligibility to join the RedHawks in 2013-14. Greenberg’s commitment comes fresh off his appearance at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament where he tied for the event lead in assists with five.
"Justin has been a great kid to coach over the last two seasons," Tornado head coach and general manager Tony Curtale said. "He had offers from nine different schools, including one in every league. We're thrilled to see him move on to a great program like Miami."
Greenberg grew up in Plano, Texas, the next town over from Frisco, where the Tornado have called home since 2003. He's one of two Metroplex natives on this year's team, along with goaltender Hunter Leisner, of Garland.
"He's a hometown success story," Curtale said. "He had the opportunity to go to the USHL, but he stuck around and made his mark with his hometown team. Now he's being rewarded with a Division-I scholarship to a highly-regarded program in Miami University."
Several D/FW-area players have played for the Tornado and gone on to success at higher levels of hockey. Adam Flink played two seasons at Western Michigan University. Defensemen and twin brothers Tyler and Trevor Ludwig both played Division-I and have appeared in AHL games. Goaltender Dave McKee was the runner-up for the Hobey Baker Award with Cornell in 2004. After two seasons of juniors, the 18 year old Greenberg is excited to move on, as well, and get a well-rounded education in addition to continuing his hockey career.
"Miami has the No. 2 business school in the country," Greenberg said. "Obviously, I'm excited from a hockey standpoint, but the academics there are really great, too."
A 1994 birth year, Greenberg is in his second season as a member of the Tornado. He spent his rookie year playing on the same team with his older brother, Jordan, for the first time.
"That was huge for me," Greenberg said. "The Tornado actually wanted me to play for them the year before, but I thought I was too young. I had never played with Jordan before, so to be able to do that was really cool."
After scoring 10 goals and 19 assists as a 17 year old in 2011-2012, Greenberg insured his place in Tornado lore, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the Robertson Cup Final to beat the St. Louis Bandits.
"We've been watching Justin since he was a Bantam, and he's always been a clutch player," Curtale said.
He picked up right where he left off at the start of 2012-2013, notching a goal and seven assists in the first four games of the season at the NAHL Showcase. In 51 games this season, Greenberg has picked up 20 goals and 28 assists, and has been named South Division Star of the Week twice.
"Being from here, I knew about the Tornado for sure," Greenberg said. "To be able to play two seasons here has been great."
Greenberg is a two-time attendee of the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, playing both last season and this season. As a member of the 18U Selects team in 2012, he was held without a point. This year, however, he skated for Team Texas and was tied for second on the team in points, with five. All of his points came on assists, but Greenberg still led all Tornado players at the event in that category. After seeing Greenberg in action at Top Prospects, Miami came calling.
"I had talked to their coaches before Top Prospects, and they told me they'd be watching me there," Greenberg said. "I didn't want to be overconfident going in and I had talked to a few other schools, but when they made an offer after Top Prospects, I was thrilled and happy to sign."
Currently, the Tornado have five players on their roster committed to Division-I schools. Greenberg joins teammates CJ Reuschlein (Army), Brandon Hawkins (Bowling Green), Nick Neville (Denver) and Max Shuart (Michigan) on the list of current Tornado players who have accepted a D-I scholarship.