Rudy Pikuzinski

Rudy Pikuzinski

Indoor Professional Soccer Legend

With the exception of a championship, there is no greater satisfaction for a professional sports fan than cheering on a home-grown player, and the taste is even sweeter when the player stars for the hometown side. For eight seasons, fans of the Buffalo Blizzard had the thrill of rooting Rudy Pikuzinski on to record-setting achievements in the arena of professional indoor soccer.

Rudy and his brothers were indoctrinated into the game of soccer at an early age; their father demanded devotion to the sport as a means of avoiding youthful indiscretions in a tough Buffalo east side neighborhood. After starring at Bishop Turner High School and the Park School (where he set a single-season scoring record), Rudy played for his father’s White Eagles in the Western New York Premier Soccer League, pacing the club to four straight Division 1 Championships.

A 1983 draft pick of the old Buffalo Stallions, Rudy played for the team in its last season of operation (1983-84) before joining the Major Indoor Soccer League Canton Invaders. Pikuzinski burst through to stardom with the Invaders, with 174 goals and three league Most Valuable Player awards from 1985 to 1990. Canton won four titles during Rudy’s tenure, and in 1989-90 posted the best single-season record ever (36-4) in indoor soccer.

In 1992, the road finally brought Pikuzinski back home as a member of the Buffalo Blizzard. For eight seasons, Rudy and brother Randy were leading goal-getters and inspirational leaders for their hometown team. In time, Rudy’s lethal right foot took aim at the MISL (by 1993 the National Professional Soccer League) career goal-scoring record, and on March 18, 1995, off an assist from Randy, Rudy gave the record the boot with his 350th career goal before a raucous Memorial Auditorium crowd. Pikuzinski, an eight-time all-star selection, added to his record for five more seasons, and retired with league and Blizzard scoring records (317 goals and 823 points for the Blizzard alone, among over 500 professional indoor soccer goals).

Statistics alone do not fully convey the Pikuzinski legacy. His intensity, drive, and determination, even in practice sessions, were legendary. His aggressive style led to frequent injury, but only to very infrequent absences from the lineup, as he battled through pain for teammates who sorely needed his presence.

Although the Aud and the Blizzard are gone, the cheering resumes again tonight for Rudy Pikuzinski on his induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.