At the age of 15, Zach Hyman already knew he wanted to play for Guy Gadowsky and the Princeton Tigers. Zach spent the next three years preparing himself for the college stage by playing for the Hamilton Red Wings of the OJHL.
Despite criticism for playing on a team his father owned, Zach, now 20, proved his worth as a player and as the team captain. During the 2010-11 season, his third and final season with the Red Wings, Zach scored 42 goals and notched 60 assists, earning himself the Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year title.
“It was a great honor,” Hyman said in an interview last summer. “I was humbled and still am. A lot of the guys who won in the past are really top NHL guys, so hopefully I can do the same when I get to the NHL.”
A few months before he was preparing to begin his freshman year, everything changed. Gadowsky left Princeton to take the head coaching position with Penn State and, suddenly, Zach was again being pursued by schools like Minnesota-Duluth, Boston College and Boston University.
Ultimately, in May 2011, Hyman changed his plans and packed his bags for the University of Michigan.
“Michigan develops top players in the NHL,” Hyman said. “The program there is just fantastic, both off the ice and on the ice, so you really develop as a player.”
During his first year with Michigan, Zach posted two goals and seven assists while suiting up in 41 games. Despite a reduction in scoring opportunities, Hyman took advantage of playing under head coach Red Berenson and his time on the ice.
“When the puck’s not going your way, you have to do something else,” said Hyman. “I really learned a lot about the defensive end of the puck and how to be a two-way forward.”
Hyman, who was drafted by the Panthers with the 123rd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, returned to Florida for the second year in a row in early July to attend Development Camp. This time, Hyman came to camp with a more confident attitude and a clearer understanding of his skillset, he said.
“I’ve really just improved over the last year…I’ve gotten a lot stronger and faster,” said Hyman. “Coming here to Development Camp, I’m just taking stuff from everyone – all the coaches have so much to offer, so I’m just taking in every little thing.”
Born in Toronto in 1992, Zach got started with hockey at a young age mainly because of encouragement and support from his father, Stuart, owner of the Hamilton Red Wings.
“My dad really has been my biggest supporter throughout my career,” said Hyman who is looking to take on more of an offensive role at Michigan this season. “My dad’s always stressing just to be the best I can be.”
Off the ice, Hyman has made a name for himself as a writer. In 2011, he published a children’s book – Hockey Hero – based off of a competition-winning short story he wrote in seventh grade. His second book, which is about baseball, is currently getting illustrated and is “on the way,” Hyman said.
Zach’s younger brother, Spencer “The Bus” Hyman, is a defenseman and will be joining the Michigan squad for the 2013-14 season. As his nickname suggests, Spencer is a physical player who will surely team up with his older brother to make a powerful duo for the Wolverines.
Hyman will return to Michigan for his sophomore year, but said he is excited about the future of the Panthers organization.
“This organization is only on the rise,” Hyman said. “It’s pretty incredible what (GM) Dale (Tallon) and Coach (Kevin) Dineen and everybody have done to this team.”