Friday, September 12, 2014
Zalewski On NHL Mission:
Zalewski on NHL mission
by Emanuel Sequeira - Vernon Morning Star
Sep 12, 2014
PENTICTON – Mike Zalewski got the rookie treatment by the Vancouver Canucks in his pro debut.
It was April 12 at Rexall Place as the Canucks were set to face the Edmonton Oilers. The former Vernon Viper was the lone skater doing pre-game laps.
“It was funny. I kind of saw it coming,” said Zalewski as his Canuck teammates watched him from the tunnel before joining. “It’s a pretty fun time. One of the cooler experiences I’ve had. I think they let me go for three or four laps. By the end I felt a little uncomfortable and was really hoping they would just join me. Everybody gets a good laugh out of that. I think it’s a pretty cool thing for them to do.”
Zalewski, 22, also dressed for the final regular season game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena and collected his first NHL assist in 12:28 of ice time.
“It was really an unbelievable month I had,” said Zalewski, who signed with the Canucks as a free agent following a two-year career with the NCAA Rensselair Polytech Institute Engineers.
“A really cool experience. Spend a month playing with the players at that level. Overall it was just a blast. Hoping to do the same this year.”
When Zalewski takes to the ice with the Canucks for their first game against the Edmonton Oilers in the Young Stars Classic tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre, he’s using what he’s learned to impress the new Canuck brass.
“It’s a great opportunity to give them a first look how I can play the game,” said Zalewski, who earned a silver medal with the Vipers at the RBC Cup in 2010-11. “How I can play in every zone.”
Zalewski is coming in with confidence and focused to play his game. In 71 games with the Engineers, the New Yorker rang up 21 goals and 47 points.
The big forward said the difference from college is that “everybody is on the same level when you get to the NHL.
“Everybody is so good. So skilled and so smart in the way they play. Things happen fast and it definitely took a little bit of getting used to.”
Coming back to Penticton gives him flashbacks of the intense games he had with the Vipers against the Vees.
“I’m pretty excited for the opportunity. “I know some people form Vernon that will be able to come down and watch. I’m really looking forward to that.”
Vernon and the offensive-minded BCHL hold a special place for Zalewski
“It allows guys to play more creative and open and gain confidence,” he said. “My second year I benefited from that the most. Good competition, playing in some fun atmospheres. Being there for two years was great.”