Zak Zborosky smiles during a drill in practice on October 13.

Zak Zborosky smiles during a drill in practice on October 13.

Zborosky’s focus on team success

Despite hot start in WHL goal scoring race, Zak Zborosky is still looking to improve his game.

Brad McLeod

Zak Zborosky is no stranger to scoring goals. In 58 games last season the now 19-year-old Kootenay Ice winger put up 32 markers, by far the highest amount on the team.

In his final WHL season, however, Zborosky seems to be taking his goal scoring game to a whole new level. He already has seven goals in his first eight games and is currently tied for second in the WHL in that department.

While he admits the goals are nice, Zborosky is still focused on getting better not only for himself but for the organization as a whole.

“It’s not bad, obviously having seven goals is pretty nice, but from a team standpoint [it hasn’t been] that good,” he said before a team practice on Wednesday afternoon. “Especially being a minus player, that’s not what people are looking for, so [I] can always improve.”

Despite his impressive goal scoring numbers and point-per-game pace, Zborosky has a plus/minus of -3 so far this year. He has never ended a season in the WHL with a positive in that category, finishing his first three years as a -1, a -5 and most recently, last season, as a -9.

As a leader for the Ice, though, Zborosky is more concerned with his teammates than his stat sheet. Last Friday, Zborosky put in two goals in the team’s first win — against the Pats in his hometown of Regina — but his highlight of the night was seeing a rookie score the game winner.

“It felt great, especially [after] how we played and having Taphorn score that overtime winner,” he said. “[To have] a young guy like that score a goal to get our first win, that was great.”

He’s also been willing to do whatever it takes to get the team in the win column, including being separated from his fellow veteran teammate Matt Alfaro. Alfaro and Zborosky are the Ice’s longest serving players and started the year together on the first line, but were separated last week by coach Luke Pierce to give the team a more balanced offensive look.

Zborosky bought into the change one hundred percent and with the pair scoring a combined five goals over the weekend —  while separated — his willingness to make sacrifices looks to be paying off.

“The change [was] good, it gives balance to the first two lines: [Alfaro] does his thing on his line, and I get to go mine on my line,” he said. “So far, it’s been working pretty good so I hope it continues.”

Although the Ice have now gotten over the hurdle of the year’s first win, there is still plenty of unfinished business for Zborosky, including giving the local Cranbrook crowd a win, as soon as possible.

“We’ve struggled a bit, and these fans are still supporting us and they’re always there showing up,” he said. “We’ve got to give back to them […] it would be awesome to get a win at home.”

Zborosky and the Ice will have two chances to do just that this weekend. They play the Regina Pats on Friday in a rematch of last week’s contest, and then the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday, on the day Zborosky will be celebrating his 20th birthday.