Story by Charlie Crowley, Sports Intern
Photo Courtesy of Andris Visockis
As much as sports are a team game, individual players help make a team run smoothly. There are players that energize and players that electrify. In some cases, there are players that are a combination of both, such as Aquinas Hockey forward Doug Zelenka. Zelenka, a senior from Grand Haven, tallied a goal and an assist on December 6 against Michigan State University. This put him at 100 points for his career, the first player to ever reach the mark for the Saints. Despite the monumental mark, Zelenka remains humbled by the occasion.
“I mean, honestly it feels good,” he said. “It is an accomplishment. But, honestly at the end of the day it’s just a stat, like in the statbook, you know. No one’s really going to remember it down the road.”
Through 17 games this year, Zelenka sits tied for third in scoring with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists). He’s on pace to eclipse his season high total of 33 points which he accomplished in the 2013-14 season. As of semester end he has accrued 104 career points, with 56 goals and 48 assists.
“It’s a milestone for Doug and we are very happy for him. It’s no secret the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference is a juggernaut of a league to play in and for him to do this in just seven semesters is even more impressive,” said Saints coach Jordan Permoda. “As for what it means for our program, I think it means we are trending in the right direction in our recruiting, our coaching, and our consistency.”
Zelenka spoke high praise about his coaches that helped him get to this point in his career, especially his former coach, Don McSween.
“I guess what I learned most from him was that hockey’s more than just a game. It’s also life and he taught us that most of us aren’t going to go on and play college hockey, but 90% of us are going to end up in the job world and if we can at least take something away from the game and apply it to our life, then his job was successful and I feel like that was the most important thing he taught me.”
“Doug is a guy who brings it every night,” Coach Permoda added. “As a coach during games, if we have a few shifts where we can’t get the puck to go north, you can put out a guy like Doug and he’ll get things going. What Doug may lack in certain intricacies, he makes up for ten fold in hard work and gritty play.”
As Zelenka prepares for the home stretch of his career, he looks more towards the bigger picture than himself.
“Points don’t really get you a national championship and that’s what we’re after, so if everyone can, you know, keep that as their goal and not so much the individual game of getting points every night, then I think we stand a pretty darn good chance of getting there. That should be the ultimate goal.”
Although Doug Zelenka may look at 100 career points as just another stat, it is players like him that have helped pave the way for Aquinas Hockey and its current and future successes. One can only hope that Aquinas continues to get players like him for years to come.
About the writer…
Charlie Crowley is a junior studying communication and journalism.He is The Saint‘s Sports Intern and future Sports Editor. He spends most of his time playing hockey, sleeping, eating, and on Reddit. He’s also a Hoosier, and proud of it, but can’t hit the open three to save his life.