Andrew Zerban of Elk River scored three straight goals for Team Northwest in its victory over Great Plains. Photo by Helen Nelson
In four games coming into Team Northwest’s 8-1 drubbing of Great Plains, Elk River junior Andrew Zerban hadn’t scored once.
By the second period in the game on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine, he tripled his scoring output by exploding for a hat trick.
His first goal was emphatic. Early in the first period, he caught Great Plains goalie Tucker Windels falling down into a butterfly and wasted no time ripping it top-shelf. In the second period, he followed it up with a beautiful tip in front of the net.
The final score was a tic-tac-toe finish with Matt Colford on an odd-man rush. All high difficulty goals.
“High skilled junior, he’s had kind of a slow start and today he pops in three,” Team Northwest coach Pat Williams said after the game. “It’s coming for him. Some of these guys, they gotta get their feet wet. He finally notched a couple goals.”
Zerban’s best attribute is his ability to put the puck in the net. Not known for being much of a grinder, he led Elk River last season with 24 goals and 7 assists for 31 points.
This year, he will be called upon again to shoulder much of the scoring load as the Elks’ top returning scorer. With lots of new players, a new goaltender, and a new coach in former Minnesota North Star Gordie Roberts, Zerban will be one of the constants from last season.
“I hope the younger kids look up to me,” Zerban said. “I just want to try and stay positive for them. Be a good role model.”
To prepare for this role, Zerban has been trying to improve other areas of his game that have lacked in the past -- namely his strength and physicality. Williams pointed out that he wanted Zerban to work on finishing his checks and being more physical.
While trying out for Waterloo of the USHL, Zerban noticed this problem too. He was constantly outmuscled which hid his ability as a scorer.
To combat this, Zerban has trained in the FIT program five days a week during the offseason. Through weight lifting and exercise, he estimates he has added fifteen pounds this summer.
“It’ll help me in the corners a lot,” he said. “I got pushed around a little bit.”
He seems dedicated to improving himself in time for a promising year at Elk River. The Elks are looking to break through in Section 7AA, a section that’s always tough and full of talent.
“I’ve been working pretty hard,” he said. “Really focusing on playing well in the Elites.”
Chase Perry of Andover made 25 saves for Team Northwest in its victory over Great Plains. Photo by Helen Nelson
“Come March hopefully we are playing still.”
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Andrew Zerban of Elk River scored three of Team Northwest’s first four goals as Team Northwest rolled to an 8-1 victory over Great Plains on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine.
Tyler Cline (Blaine) added a goal and an assist for Team Northwest, which looked in command of the game by the end of the second period.
In the third period, Team Northwest continued to apply pressure by tacking on four more goals. Eleven skaters registered a point and eight of them notched at least two.
The deep Team Northwest squad played faster and stronger, overwhelming Great Plains.
Andover’s Chase Perry stopped 27 of 28 shots in the game to continue his stellar stretch of play to start the Elite League for Team Northwest.
For Great Plains, Moorhead’s Nick Uglem scored an unassisted goal and Fargo Davies goaltender Tucker Windels stopped 32 of 40 shots in the loss.
-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff