Garrett finds success with new college hockey program

Creighton’s Zach Garrett headed south this winter to be a pioneer with a new team.

He captained the University of Mary squad to an impressive 39-5-2-1 record in its inaugural American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) season. The Bismarck, ND school was the latest destination in a long hockey journey for the 24-year-old.

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“Hockey has given me so much,” Garrett said. “I feel grateful to be able to continue playing while also earning an education. The teammates, coaches and everyone else I’ve met along the way have taught me so much about myself and life, and I feel honoured to have had all of these experiences. At the end of the day, I still love playing, so it’s all worth it.”

The UMary Marauders were pleased to have a veteran like Garrett, who played four seasons of junior hockey and two junior college seasons, leading the way. He brought experience, confidence and a good feel for communicating with teammates and his coach to the captain’s role, head coach Dan Huntley said.

“He is organized, thinks ahead and understands the big picture,” the coach said. “He also provided leadership on the ice with his ability to control the tempo of the game and bring a physical, emotional and smart edge to his play that our guys fed off of. Zach makes good decisions on and off the ice to set the example for his teammates.”

As well as his leadership, Garrett was counted on for his play. He was third on the Marauders with 54 points in 47 games, including 19 goals.

“Zach has a great ability to pass the puck and has the innate ability to find the open lane or teammate to set them up for great scoring opportunities,” Huntley said. “I think he understands and can break down how the other teams are playing, thus giving him an advantage in knowing what will help him and our team become more successful.”

The head coach is looking for a big year from Garrett next season. The Marauders will be playoff eligible in their second season and are hoping to make a run at the ACHA Division II national title. Garrett has certainly enjoyed his time so far playing for the University of Mary.

“The fan turnout and atmosphere at games is great. Travelling throughout the States has been a cool experience and on top of that, having a successful team in our inaugural season was an awesome experience,” he said.

Garrett’s hockey journey has included playing for such teams as the Notre Dame Midget AA Argos, Norman Northstars, Tri-Town Thunder, Waywayseecappo Wolverines, Dakota College at Bottineau Lumberjacks and his hometown Flin Flon Bombers.

“As a local kid, it was always a dream of mine to play for the Bombers in front of my family and friends,” said Garrett, who dressed for Flin Flon in nine games over two seasons. “It was nice to be recognized as being able to play at that level and it gave me confidence moving forward into other leagues and with other teams.”

In an interesting quirk, Garrett’s former school, Dakota College at Bottineau, now also plays in the ACHA. This past winter he found himself competing against the two-year school that he led to the 2017 national championship in the previous National Junior College Athletic Association ranks.

“It was interesting to see how my old teammates stepped up and responded to being leaders on my old team,” Garrett said. “It was nice to be back in Bottineau for a few games, getting to see old friends, teachers and people who supported me during my two seasons there. The games were fun and winning was a great bonus.”

At Dakota College at Bottineau, Garrett earned an associate degree in marketing and advertising. He is now pursuing a double major in business administration and marketing with a minor in sports management.

“Although the school and city are bigger than Flin Flon/Creighton, the class sizes are nice and small so I get to know my classmates and professors, and that has made it an easy transition to a new college and community,” Garrett said. “Bismarck is a friendly place and the UMary campus feels like a community in and of itself.”

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