Forward Mario Puskarich played in Wenatchee at the end of the 2010-11 season, and had a strong showing in the playoffs before moving on in his career. He’s played professionally in the US and Austria, and his next stop remains a little up in the air.
Considered a dual citizen for the United States and Croatia, Puskarich lists Cape Coral, FL as his home. As a teen, he headed for the Windy City and played two seasons for the Chicago Young Americans U18 team before advancing to the USHL where he spent time with both Waterloo and Tri-City before landing in Wenatchee for the tail end of the season. The following year he chose the BCHL where he hit his stride with the Langley Rivermen. He was named team MVP both years, and won the Brett Hull Trophy for most points in the league during his second year.
He earned a Division I commitment to University of Vermont where he played a full four seasons, serving as an alternate captain in his junior year, and team captain as a senior. At the conclusion of his senior year, he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings for the remainder of the year.
For the 2017-18 season, Puskarich decided to play overseas in Austria, joining the Medvescak Zagreb club in the EBEL (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga). The league is the top-tier pro league in Austria, and features additional teams from the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, and his native Croatia. He played a season and a half there before returning to Manchester at the end of the year.
It was a surprise when the Monarchs shut down operations at the end of the year. The Monarchs were an AHL franchise initially and dropped a level to the ECHL, which affected attendance with a roughly 50% decrease. Attempts to sell the franchise were unsuccessful, and eventually the ECHL revoked their membership.
Puskarich is a talented player who will have options. He’s expected to continue his playing career, though it’s not known which side of the Atlantic he’ll choose this time around.