Another year with familiar linemates has Pine Creek hockey headed in the right direction. And at the forefront is junior Zach Zimmerman.
The center netted six goals and added two assists in the past three games, helping the Eagles to a 3-1 start. With eight goals and four assists, Zimmerman led the Peak Conference in points heading into this week's action.
"My linemates and I have been playing together the last two years," Zimmerman said. "We've been working well together and are starting to click really well. With Riley (Gregory) and Dawson (Wright), we work well together. We have good chemistry to finding the guy up front."
More often than not, that guy has been Zimmerman.
Against Coronado on Dec. 9, Zimmerman scored two goals and set up two others. Two days later against Mullen, he found the back of the net three times in a 3-2 victory.
Of his eight goals, four have been on the power play.
"Zimmy gets his chances and he does have a knack for scoring goals," Eagles coach Ken Martel said. "He was our leading scorer in his freshman and sophomore years. Now, he's bigger, stronger and fulfilling that potential. He's just off to a good start and has a good supporting cast."
The California-born Zimmerman moved to Colorado Springs as a 3-year-old and spent the majority of his youth on the baseball diamond. It wasn't until later that he found his true calling on the ice.
With a team made up of mostly underclassmen, this fast start could be a harbinger of things to come at Pine Creek, which already this school year has crowned state champions in boys' soccer and football.
"We have experienced players now, and we think this is our time on the uptick of the cycle," Martel said. "We were one of the top five teams in the state, but it's been a while. We haven't been in that realm in the last six years. We have a couple of good seniors, but mostly juniors, so we'll return a pretty similar group next year, as well."
For Zimmerman, he's just looking forward to watching his team improve and perhaps put hockey on similar footing with other sports at his school.
"Last year, we finished a point out of going to the playoffs," Zimmerman said. "Last year, when we started off bad, everyone got the mindset that the whole season would be bad. This year, with a strong start, we've completely changed our whole system. We're thinking about bigger things and keeping the school involved, recognizing that we do have a team."
Kevin Carmody, The Gazette