The Lone Star Brahmas are pleased to announce defenseman Jakub Sirota has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Maine.
“I am very blessed to be a part of Maine hockey, a program with a great hockey history and culture,” Sirota said. “The feeling is really good. The commitment itself is what all junior players in America are trying to accomplish and you can never be sure if you’re going to make it. The grind never stops, but deep in your heart you get a little calmer.”
The Brahmas added Sirota after the NAHL Showcase, which immediately bolstered an already-strong defensive corps. Unfortunately, after registering a few points in back-to-back October weekends, the native of the Czech Republic was sidelined with an injury until the 2018 portion of the season.
“When he came back after his injury, he was definitely a difference for us. He helped our offense and did well on the power play,” Head Coach Dan Wildfong said. “He’s probably one of the most skilled defensemen in the division. I think he’s going to be a great guy next year for us and a guy who is going to grow better defensively, which will help him translate to the college game. He’s going to be elite.”
Upon his return, Sirota captured a good amount of NCAA interest.
“The Black Bears showed a really big interest in me and it all came down to this school and [a couple others],” Sirota said. “To be honest, I had a really hard time deciding because the programs are great. The conference that Maine plays in was the thing that helped make up my mind.”
To his point about playing in a strong conference, three Hockey East programs made the NCAA Tournament this past season, and he wants to help Maine win a hockey championship. Before he enrolls at the university, Sirota will play one more year of junior hockey and is eager for the opportunity to bring the Brahmas back to the Promised Land.
“We didn’t get through the division final,” Sirota said about the disappointment of losing in the deciding Game Five. “This is the step I hope to accomplish [with the Brahmas]. Being in the final four is a great feeling and if we get there, I know we are going to win.”
Playing top pair minutes, the 6-foot-2, 190 pound defenseman would be one of the team’s most productive returners should he come back to Texas for his final junior season. Through 41 games with Lone Star, Sirota scored five goals and added 23 assists with an impressive plus-18 rating.
Sirota has a good shot that gets through traffic, is effective and crafty with the puck, and has good vision to make plays and quarterback the team’s top power play.
Before arriving in north Texas, Sirota played over 50 games for his country, spent a full season in the United States Hockey League with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, and was listed on the NHL’s Central Scouting List. His offensive skill set has always been there, but Sirota put in the work and developed into a reliable 200-foot player with the Brahmas.
“We practiced a lot of tactical stuff and I made an improvement in reading the game,” Sirota said. “Every game has its own flow. There are games where you are on the puck a lot so you can make better plays and there are games where you just need to chip pucks deep in the opponent’s zone. You can’t try to make the play right away. Patience is as important as anything else.”
The improvement of his transition game also caught Coach Wildfong’s attention.
“It’s funny because I saw his old coach at Nationals and he watched Jakub on Hockey TV and he was like ‘he didn’t look like the same player we had.’ His offensive ability was always there, but the defending and the trust factor that you need to have in college is something he really bought into and he embraced and made a huge step in that area. I feel he made a big step offensively, too, in some of the areas where he is looking before making that pass, not just throwing pucks so I was happy with his development and I feel Maine has a really good player for the future.”
He plans on studying business at Maine and will join alumnus Benjamin Beck in 2019 as the only two Brahmas to play for the Black Bears. With his experience, Sirota is poised for another big season before embracing the life of a student-athlete.