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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Calgary Royals - Zach Sawchenko

The Calgary Royals have flown somewhat under the radar when it comes to talking about the top teams in western Canada this year.  That is soon to change though.  The Royals with a win last night over the Calgary Bronks improved their record to 10-1-2 and have allowed just 26 goals in 13 games in the ultra competitive AMBHL.  So far this season they have beaten top teams such as Medicine Hat (5-1), Calgary Bisons (4-3) as well as the Bronks last night (3-2).  Their only loss thus far came to Red Deer Black by a score of 4-3 in which Jake Morrissey got the start.

Please see below our Q & A with star goaltender Zach Sawchenko who seems primed to be the second goalie in as many years to be selected in the first round.  Of course we remember another good Alberta goalie Jordan Papirny from Edmonton SSAC who was the final pick of the first round to Brandon.  Sawchenko is on track and it could set up an interesting battle if they are to advance to the playoff rounds in Med Hat and play the other highly ranked goalie in Nick McBride from BWC.

Zach Sawchenko
Calgary Royals (AMBHL)
5'9 144
2011-2012 Stats:  7-0-0  1.43  .948%

Starting back in minor hockey, where did you play and what were some of your favourite personal and team highlights growing up?
I’ve been told that I have the worst hockey birthday; I was born on Dec. 30th. If you ask me, my birth date has been a blessing. I have managed to play on Team 1 my whole hockey career as both a player and a goalie in spite of my birth date. I have a competitive drive that allowed me to make the transition from player to goalie when I was an atom in Bow River (even when I was repeatedly told not to). It was also that same competitive drive that helped me when we moved in Peewee and I had to prove myself all over again in Glenlake hockey association. Making the top team is always my goal! Bringing that team as far as it can go is always the goal that follows. I have won city championships three of the past four years. This past spring our 1997 Nationals AAA Spring team travelled to play in the World Selects Invitational hockey tournament in Prague. The level of competition was extremely high and it was good for all the boys to see where they matched up outside of North America. The highlight had to be beating the Russian Red Army team by a score of 3-1.

You had an outstanding rookie season with the Calgary Royals bantam AA squad leading the league in Save percentage and GAA. What do you feel was the biggest reason for that type of success?
First off, I fell short of achieving AAA Bantam as a first year player, but I was motivated to prove that I belonged there regardless. I played AA Bantam focused and determined. The biggest reason for my success however was the team in-front of me, day in day out they battled for me and that's huge!! There was also hard work and my desire to win, but the team was probably the biggest part. You could look at the guy in front of you knowing that they would block a shot for you or take that hit for the team. That was our biggest advantage: Trust!  What did it mean for you to be named to the all-star team as a first year player in bantam AA? It was huge, being a rookie and all, I felt I established my name throughout the league, and that's a huge compliment! The all-star game was an incredible experience, the league’s top players just out there playing the game we all love and that's what it's all about!

What hockey related activities in terms of camp, training and tournaments did you participate in and what weaknesses did you work on?
I am a big believer in the teachings of David Marcoux, having been enrolled as a student in his DMSG summer camps the previous five summers. This past summer I helped Mr. Marcoux on-ice as a demonstration goalie and mentor to the younger age groups. Being an instructor definitely gives you a different perspective. I have also been taking private lessons from World Pro Goaltending since designating as goalie back in Atom and I have been enrolled in Wayne Dougherty’s Summit Hockey Academy since first year Peewee.

Explain what type of goalie you are and some of the strengths you feel that make you so successful?
Last summer I worked on my puck-playing abilities in the back yard. I have had to work at it, but I feel really comfortable outside of the crease and I think it's huge when your team can get a stretch pass from the goalie. I think this is one of the skills that separate mefrom some of the other goalies out there. I also think I can give my team a chance to win, every game no matter what the competition is. I try to never give up on a puck, first  relying on my training and positioning, but then pure athletics whenever necessary. I think the team gains confidence and can feed off that, it can really contribute to the team’s success.

What are some of your personal and team goals for the 2011-2012 season and
how do you think you can achieve those goals?
I think that having good stats is a big one. I know that if I play to my abilities, battle every
game for 60 minutes the stats should take care of themselves. I’d like to
be at the top, 1st throughout the entire league at the end of the season.

Finally, who is your favourite NHL goalie and which goalie if you had to
choose would you pattern your game after?
I think Carey Price is a great example, he just stays calm in between the pipes and like me, gives his team
a chance to win game in, game out. He’s had to work to get where he has
gotten and had to battle through some adversity early on in his career, but
I think now he's one of the top goalies in the league.


Anonymous said...

i have watch zach of the royals play yes he is good , but in the same time gets lots of support from his d which may be the best in the ambhl, the question is can he handle 40 shots a game and the pressure if he is left to dry , compare to the other goaltending in the league just curious

Anonymous said...

Same Royals coach as last year who cut Zach as 13yr old. Wonder if Zach holds a grudge from that. He is sure one hell of a goalie!

Anonymous said...

he is pretty good..he and Riley Morris best in southern AB

Anonymous said...

Being held back a year would have been good for him. Getting lit up by the Bisons last year would have done nothing for him.The Royals made agood devolopmental dissision no hurry for these players.

Anonymous said...

The Royals team is a hardworking beast. Yes, probably top D in league. Top goalies in league. F not that great, but work hard and gives results. Quite impressive seeing what their coaching staff have done thus far with limited "talent". Look at Bisons right now, huge talent, not 1st place. See if these coaches can get a good showing in Med Hat. Guess should comment on Sawchenko given thread, he is best goalie in AB, hands down.

Anonymous said...

I have gone to school with Zach since kindergarden and all I can say is that he has one of the best work ethics I've seen.