Like many red-blooded Canadians, Lewis Zerter-Gossage would like to play in the NHL.
But Zerter-Gossage, who grew up in N.D.G., recently completed his sophomore year at Harvard and plans to pick up his economics degree before concentrating on a pro career.
“I think it’s important to finish school and then see what happens,” said Zerter-Gossage during a break in the Canadiens’ development camp on Tuesday. “It’s good to have that degree to fall back on.”
Zerter-Gossage played midget AAA hockey but spurned the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and played two years at the Kent School in Connecticut and one year with Penticton in the BCHL.
“I was offered a 50-per-cent scholarship at Vermont, but then Harvard showed some interest and I couldn’t turn that down,” Zerter-Gossage said. “The hockey team wasn’t that good when I committed, but we became good.”
Harvard reached the Frozen Four last season, losing 3-1 to Minnesota-Duluth. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Zerter-Gossage was a solid contributor with 11 goals and 14 assists in 36 games.
Harvard doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, but does offer need-based grants.
“My parents and I are splitting the cost, and I hope I can pay them back,” Zerter-Gossage said.
Harvard has sent such players to the NHL as current Crimson coach Ted Donato, Don Sweeney, Dominic Moore, Jimmy Vesey and Lac St. Louis products Alex Killorn and Alex Biega. And if hockey doesn’t work out, Zerter-Gossage can always put his degree to good use in the business world like former Harvard player Phil Falcone did. The former hedge-fund boss is worth US$1.2 billion and owns a piece of the Minnesota Wild.
U.S. college players are having a greater impact on the NHL. This past season, more than 30 per cent of the players in the NHL had played college hockey. Fifteen of the 42 players at the Canadiens’ camp are college players, including first-round draft Ryan Poehling from St. Cloud State and 2014 draft pick Jake Evans, who helped Notre Dame reach the Frozen Four this year.
Most of the college players are here on tryouts, and they are required to pay their own way to maintain their NCAA eligibility.
The group includes Vancouver native Jarid Lukosevicius, who was the MVP in the Frozen Four after scoring all three goals in Denver’s 3-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth in the final. He has two more years at Denver and is hoping to make a good impression at the camp.
“I was small, about 5-foot, when the WHL draft was held, but I was always thinking college,” Lukosevicius said.
Defenceman Brinson Pasichnuk plays for the newest NCAA program at Arizona State and was invited to the camp after he was passed over in the draft.
“I was going to Vermont, but I wanted to play with my older brother (Steenn) and there was no room for him there,” Pasichnuk said. “Arizona State wanted us both and I’m excited to be there. I’m from smalltown Alberta (Bonnyville), and it’s exciting to be in a big city. I’m a proud Canadian, but I could see settling there.”
Pasichnuk said Arizona State takes inspiration from Penn State, which reached the No. 1 ranking last season in only its fifth year of Division I play.
“We think we can do it even quicker,” Pasichnuk said. “We were a first-year team, but we had wins over (top-20 teams) Air Force and Quinnipiac.”
They also tied Western Michigan and Ohio State.
Jordan Boucher won’t be heading back to school. The forward from Blainville completed his business degree at Clarkson University and is looking for a pro contract. He played nine games with Binghampton after his college season and said it gave him a head start on a pro career. He will probably get an invitation to the Canadiens’ rookie camp in September.
Boucher has scored in each of the last two scrimmages. Tuesday’s session ended in a 4-4 tie. Joni Ikonen scored twice for the Reds with Boucher and James McEwan adding singles. Evans scored twice for Team White, which also had goals from Josh Brook and St. Cloud’s Robby Jackson.