The Kenai River Brown Bears, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), have announced that goaltender Marcus Zelzer has made a commitment to play NCAA Division I hockey for Michigan Tech University beginning in the 2013-14 season. Michigan Tech is a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
Zelzer, 20, has spent three seasons playing and developing in the NAHL with three different teams. The native of Green Bay, Wisconsin began this past 2012-13 season playing for the Aberdeen Wings where he had spent the better part of two seasons. At the beginning of January, he was acquired by Kenai River in a trade with Aberdeen, as the Brown Bears were seeking a #1 goaltender.
While in Kenai River, Zelzer (6’3/200) flourished and put up the best numbers of his NAHL career. In 11 regular season games with the Brown Bears, Zelzer posted a 6-2-2 record, a 1.84 goals against average and a 93.3% save percentage. Despite missing almost two months to injury, he came back just in time for the playoffs where he again played well as Kenai River fell in five games to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the West Semi-Finals.
He was named the NAHL’s West Division Star of the Week back on February 11th. His performance was in direct correlation with a stretch of games in which the Brown Bears went unbeaten in regulation in nine straight games.
“We acquired Marcus in trade as a result of placing a goalie on the season ending IR and we were happy to jump at the chance to get him from Aberdeen,” said Brown Bears head coach Oliver David. “We needed to solidify things in goal and Marcus was exactly the type we were looking for. We had previous knowledge of him, we were excited at the chance to get him. He was the key factor in our success at that time, and was a great addition. We could not have been happier.”
David continued… “We are so proud of Marcus here in Bear Country. He was outstanding during his time with us and he immediately bought in and fit in with our team. He is a top notch person and a great goaltender. I just can't say enough about the kid. Congrats to Michigan Tech for giving him the opportunity. They will be very pleased with his work ethic and superior competitiveness.”
Of Zelzer’s 81 career NAHL regular season games, 63 of those were played in Aberdeen over the portion of three seasons. After beginning his NAHL career with the Wenatchee Wild in 2010-11, where he played in seven games, Zelzer was traded to Aberdeen, where he finished the season. During the 2011-12 season, he played the entire season with the Wings. In his NAHL career, he posted a record of 32-33-6 with a goals against average of 2.97 and a save percentage of 91%.
He is the eighth Brown Bears player to secure an NCAA commitment this season, joining: Mikhail Bushinski (Utica), Brad Duwe (Alaska-Anchorage), Albin Karlsson (Niagara), Zac Lazzaro (Utica), Dylan Meier (Augsburg), Chris Nuth (Wisconsin-Eau Claire) and Ryan Walker (Utica).
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)