Bentley University hockey graduate Bobby Preece signed a one-year contract to play with HC GKS Katowice in Poland, according to numerous reports.
Preece spent the previous two seasons with the Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League. Prior to that, he spent four years as a force for the Bentley University Falcons, helping the team in his junior year to a berth in the Atlantic Hockey Association playoff championship weekend, all while setting a standard of hard-nosed play that’s become a benchmark for all Falcon defenders.
While at Bentley, Preece scored 22 assists during that 2008-2009 season, his junior campaign. In the team’s first season as Bentley University (they’d spent their prior years as merely Bentley College), the Falcons qualified for the conference semifinals before falling to Air Force in Rochester. Bentley has yet to return to that round of postseason play.
A native of Bonita Springs, Florida, the 27-year old Preece spent three seasons with Fargo-Moorhead of the North American Hockey League for juniors, scoring 17 goals and 56 assists. But his reputation grew from his penchant for going to the penalty box; his lowest PIM total was 122 in juniors, and he had 152 during his third season in the NAHL. He carried that reputation to Bentley, where he notched 73 penalty minutes during his junior year and an astounding 118 during his senior season. That last total ranks just one minute less than the Bentley all-time single season record of 119 held by Jaye Judd. He also scored a career-high eight goals while a member of the Falcons during his senior year, good enough for fourth on the team while his 25 points ranked tied for second with current forward Joe Campanelli.
After graduating Bentley, Preece headed for Iowa, where he continued a standard he set in college. He scored 17 points in his first season with Quad City, playing in just 56 games, equaling that total this past season when he appeared in 66 contests. His plus/minus total jumps off anybody’s stat sheet, improving from +5 to +23 over his tenure.
Preece will join a HC GKC Katowice squad that had a dominant 2011-2012. Currently playing in the Polish 1. Liga, the team plays its home games at the eponymous Spodek in Katowice, a city located in the southern portion of the country. The famous, saucer-shaped arena is also known as a symbol for redevelopment in the city, and it hosted the finals of EuroBasket 2009. They finished atop the 1. Liga table a year ago, scoring 26 wins and 77 points to finish 16 points ahead of second place Polonia Bytom.
Along with teammate Jared Brown, Preece will be part of a duo bringing the number of non-European players to three. Brown, also of the Quad City Mallards the past two seasons, scored 26 goals to draw the attention of the Polish club. The two will partner with Kyle Kozlowski, who played with New England College in Division III’s ECAC-East conference as the team’s three American players. The rest, save for one athlete, are all from the native Poland. Brown played college puck at Northern Michigan University.