Friday, September 17, 2021
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The best is yet to come

CalgaryFlames.com takes a closer look at some of our potential guys – today it’s Connor Zare.

Do not pay attention to achievements.

It’s still early days.

He ignored the Junior World Silver Medal, the WHL First All-Star Team’s nod and the invitation to the CHL Top Prospects game.

Don’t care about the point-per-game segment during the 203 WHL competition or the plus-30 rating in the 2019-20 season that led to the first-round pick by Flames. Forget his seven points in nine AHL games when he was 19 years old.

Ask Connor Zari and he will tell you himself, still looking to show you what he can do.

“The pressure is always there no matter when you enlist, and in what round,” Zare said. “It’s more about me. There will always be someone watching, and it’s all about what I put on the ice. I haven’t proven anything yet. Every day, every year, there’s always something to prove.”

A year ago, Calgary snatched the Saskatoon native with the 24th pick. It didn’t take long for him to explain why, as he began forming Team Canada in the World Junior Championships while finishing the tournament with a plus-4 before moving on to join the Stockton Heat early in the season before the WHL return to play. .

It was his first assignment in the professional game that would raise eyebrows, as the 6-foot-tall striker counted in Stockton’s deadliest streak while skating by midfield. Adam Rosica And the right wing Matthew Phillips, a pair of players earned NHL Ice time in 2021.

Video: Score beautiful goals – that’s what he does

At the end of Zare’s nine-game run for the Heat, the trio netted a total of 33 points and 14 goals while garnering an active seven-game winning streak as the rookie returned to the rookies.

“We were great,” Zari said of his comrades. “We were feeding on each other. Things were going smoothly. These guys are incredible players. (Rosica) is a big guy, great hands and great finish playing. (Phillips) always seems to have magnets on the disc and makes plays. When you can skate alongside These guys, it lets you rise to their level and play with them and learn a lot.”

The 2021 season brought the unexpected – playing without fans, competing in Calgary while skiing with Stockton – but this AHL-level experience has already paid off. By the time Zary returned to Kamloops, he had seen what it would take to excel at the next level while playing alongside two potential seniors in the Flames pipeline.

It was a measuring stick, but it was also a distance marker for the distance he had to travel to reach his destination.

Back at the Blazers, enjoy your best stat season yet at 1.6 points per game and 9 plus in just 15 games. “That little season,” he refers to, came with a new letter sewn onto his chest.

“(Having my name a captain) was something special,” he said. “Having that honor, to be captain and to be recognized for that, was a special thing. It was a short season but it still meant the same thing. The amount of accountability and respect that came with wearing it was so amazing. You see, the names that came through Kamloops like Jarom Iginla, Shane Doan, Scott Niedermayer and Mark Rickey, they are all greats; it’s been great to wear this jersey for the past four years and to be captain last year.”

Despite his young age, Zare is ready to close the door on his brilliant junior career. It’s the competitor in it that allows him to look forward to what’s coming and get back into the pro ranks, a task less daunting than it looked a year ago with his solid performance on the farm.

He’ll announce he’s just getting started, but that’s a challenge he embraces and is ready to beat one step at a time.

“(My nine games at Stockton) have been huge,” Zare said. “It has been a strange year, but getting those nine games and being ready to keep up in that game, seeing everyday life, feeling exercise, seeing travel and getting to know the players and being comfortable within the organization, means a lot that Be on the ice, be comfortable and excel at that level.

“There is still a lot of work to do and areas to improve, but if you don’t have the mindset that you want to be the best team possible and be at a big club, you come with the wrong attitude. That’s what you want to pay every time you are. It’s on the ice.”

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