One of the faces that Flyers fans will certainly get a good look at (as well as the coaches & scouting staff) during the team’s official Rookie & Training Camp this fall will be forward Harry Zolnierczyk.
But before we tell you a little bit more about Zolnierczyk, we have to mention the following for our and your sake -- it’s pronounced ZOHL-ner-chuk.
Okay, so now that we have that covered, Zolnierczyk is skating at full strength at the Virtua Center Flyers’ Skate Zone along with his new friends at the Flyers to get himself acclimated to the way things work around the organization.
“It’s a good feeling to be out on the ice with the guys that’s for sure. Coming into a new organization, it will be good to be here for a couple months to get to used to the way things work around here and get used to the staff and the way they train, the types of practices they have and get really comfortable with those things before camp gets going.”
Harry Z. (as his friends have come to call him) was signed by the Flyers to an entry-level contract for this upcoming season on March 8 following a four-year career at Brown University.
“It was definitely a really exciting time. I loved my four years at Brown and it ended on a good note, both individually and for the team. Then, signing in the NHL is just a dream come true and with the Flyers here it was a quick turn-around from [Brown] to Glens Falls.”
|photo courtesy: Jonathan Bateman / The Brown Daily Herald |
Days after turning professional, the 23-year-old from Toronto was assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, for the remainder of their season.
He appeared in their final 16 games, posting three goals and five points while getting adjusted to life as a pro.
“I thought that was very helpful and beneficial to get a few games in there and then come to Philadelphia to watch the playoff games here was very beneficial to get that experience. Every guy is that much bigger and that much stronger, faster. I thought I did well in trying to fit in there and make my mark, but it was definitely a change from the college game.”
During his collegiate career, Zolnierczyk posted 29 goals and 35 assists for 64 points in 67 games over his last two seasons of play with the Bears. As captain in his final season, he was named the Ivy League Player of the Year.
It was these two seasons that made Zolnierczyk hopeful that he could achieve his dream of playing in the NHL.
His first two season however were a different story. During his freshmen and sophomore years, he managed just one goal and five points in 47 games.
“It definitely came with a bit of opportunity in college,” said Zolnierczyk on the progression of his game throughout college. “From the freshmen to the senior class, they’re definitely ahead of you on the depth chart and things like that, but I think it just took me a little while to find my footing there.
“We had a big coaching change after my sophomore year and that took me into my last two years and there was a lot of opportunity for me when he came in. It was one of those things that just clicked and I just ran with it.”
Harry Z. ran with it all the way into the Flyers organization, a team in which both he and his family had a gut-feeling that it was the place to be, despite being pursued by other NHL clubs.
“I don’t have any regrets. This is where my heart was when it came down to make a decision, and it still is. They have such a good family environment here with the staff and management here. They make it a real comfortable place.”
As to what type of player we can expect to see…
“I think it’s my speed and tenaciousness on the puck, and getting to the puck first or turning pucks over that stands out. I like getting in guys’ faces and being a pest as well.”
Come early September Zolnierczyk doesn’t plan on being just any guy there hoping to make a good impression. His plan is like that of his fellow prospect forgoing the comforts of home and training each day in Voorhees, N.J.
“I’m going into camp with every expectation to make this team and help this team be successful throughout the year, so my goal right now is to make the Flyers come main camp.”