By Warren Kozireski–
The Buffalo Jr. Sabres have sent dozens of players on to play various levels college hockey. One of them was Army junior Zach Evancho (Derby).
Evancho, through the first 21 games of the season, was tied atop the Black Knights scoring chart with 18 points and was seeing probably too much ice time on both the power play and penalty kill.
“He’s scored goals for us all year; little guy that plays big and can really shoot the puck and sees the ice really well,” Army head coach Brian Riley said.
At 5’8” and 165 lb. Evancho often gives up four to six inches and 20 pounds on some opponent forwards, but he often takes the hit to make a breakout pass or is feathering a pass tape to tape to an open teammate.
“I try to play as big as I can,” Evancho said. “I don’t want to rely so much on skill because with the guys we play against it’s hard too, so I try to lay a little grittier, a little harder just because people don’t expect it from someone who is five-eight on a really good day.
“It’s the reason I’ve gotten this far in hockey, so I take ride in it.”
Evancho started his junior hockey career with the Jr. Sabres, jumped to the USHL in Youngstown for two years and came back to the Jr. Sabres for two more, the second where he served as team captain.
“When I left the Jr. Sabres I thought it was a good opportunity to play against top competition and it was a great organization and they treated me well. But I wasn’t getting the playing time…so I went back home and it really helped my career a lot just getting to play a lot and being a top guy on a team.
“Both organizations helped me to get where I am, but Jr. Sabres let me develop my game more and get more offensively skilled.”
His older brother Gavin played club hockey at the University of Buffalo.
“He’s the reason I got into hockey. We had a rink every winter; being in Buffalo it’s kind of natural and we would go out and skate as soon as we got home from school and then get the skates off, get in the car and go to hockey. The whole neighborhood played. It’s really been in our blood for years.
“I think it has to be the second born. We just have that drive that we want to be better than our big brother. It’s definitely pushed me to want to push past what he does, not out of jealousy, but because I want to be able to tell him I was better than him I guess.”
(Photo by Janet Schultz)