Thursday, June 02, 2005

Three Tornado players move on to D-I

Three Michigan natives who played this past year with the NAHL champion Texas Tornado have committed to Division I colleges for this fall.

Tornado captain and Troy native Tom Train (Alabama-Huntsville), Manchester's Derek Punches (Wayne State) and Bloomfield Hills native Justin Liut (Bowling Green), all forwards, will hone their skills on separate college campuses come September.

Punches started this past season with the Soo Indians after backing out of an Air Force commitment last summer.

Forward Matt Krug (Livonia) signed with Wayne State during November's early signing period and will join his older brother Adam in Detroit.

Train scored 33 goals and 69 points this past season in Texas and will join former Tornado teammate Denny Reagan, who just completed his freshman season with the Chargers.

"I think it will be nice fit for Tommy," said Tornado head coach and general manager Tony Curtale, a Detroit native. "I think he will be able to go in there and contribute immediately to become one of their better players. Tommy is a great power forward and will do the little things to make his team successful. I have no doubt he is ready for the next level."

Punches joined the Tornado at the trade deadline in January after playing the past two seasons for the Indians. Between the two clubs, Punches recorded 19 points in 32 games.

"Derek is a very responsible player defensively and also a very strong threat from the circles in," said Curtale. "He was a great addition for us mid-season and help give us depth in order to win a National Championship. I have no doubt he'll make Wayne State a better team."

Punches will join Krug, along with Tornado alumni Jason Bloomingburg, Mark Nebus and Ryan Wright, on the Warriors.

Liut's father, former NHL goaltender Mike Liut, also attended Bowling Green from 1973-77. Justin netted 15 goals last year for the Tornado.

"Justin was not a player that was heavily recruited when he joined us, so he has come a long way in the time he has spent with the Tornado," said Curtale. "Justin found a style that worked for him and for this team, and it paid off for him in the long run. I know he is working very hard to become a player that will consistantly be in the line-up during his time at Bowling Green, but we are very proud of him."

Nine players from last season's Tornado squad have committed to NCAA institutions for this coming fall.

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