Last season, I wanted fan requests to determine who and when players of your choice would be heard from in Fifteen. It worked a treat. We heard from several different people and had a lot of laughs. There was just one problem: the most requested player and most frequently referred to as the funniest player Admirals teammates had played with, Harry Zolnierczyk, was recalled by the Nashville Predators moments after being named Admiral of the Month last December and Milwaukee didn’t see him again. That’s the bad news. The good news? Harry Z re-signed with the Predators before the start of the 2017-18 season.
Zolnierczyk’s career has been one paved by hard work. He didn’t go the junior hockey route and instead joined Brown University where he played collegiate hockey for four-seasons. He played 114 games with the Brown Bears and was team captain in his senior season of 2010-11.
After going undrafted, and completing his run at Brown University, Zolnierczyk would immediately sign an entry level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. The head coach at the time for the Flyers just so happened to be current Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. Zolnierczyk would make his professional debut that season in the AHL as a member for the Adirondack Phantoms on 3/11/11 against the Albany Devils. He would continue forward logging 16 games out of college in the AHL scoring 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists).
In his first full professional season Zolnierczyk would split time between the NHL and AHL.. He scored his first career NHL goal from his first career NHL shot in his first career NHL game on 10/18/11 in a road contest against the Ottawa Senators. Ever since, it has been a career right at that line between NHL and AHL. He came into the Nashville Predators organization a season ago and it didn’t take much to see what his greatest qualities are for a hockey team: leadership and outright speed.
Zolnierczyk started last season as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals. It always felt like he was a spark plug type of player on the ice as his skating ability, work rate, and speed always put him or his teammates in places to succeed. He scored 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games with the Admirals during the 2016-17 season. He would match that amount of games played as part of the Predators and was with the team during their run to the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. For the road he had been on? It doesn’t get more satisfying than watching his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Predators opening round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks. He showcased his speed, his skill to score under pressure, and then unleashed pure emotion as only Zolnierczyk could – getting his team fired up. That’s who Zolnierczyk is. And that is why it was so great that after a failed try-out this pre-season with the Florida Panthers that he came back to the organization where he did so well the year prior. The moment he arrived to practice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena after signing to return? It was like he had never left: chirping, laughing, and going to work.
Already this season Zolnierczyk has gotten off to a nice start. In the Admirals opening 10 games he has produced 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists) and been an impact player with his pace, defensive work, and timely offense. It might have taken a season – but we now have the chance to hear from Z in Fifteen.
Thanks so much to Harry Zolnierczyk for taking the time to chat with us. Next on tap for Fifteen we will be featuring one of the newbies to the Milwaukee Admirals but someone still rather familiar to Admirals fans: Pierre-Cédric Labrie. That will be up tomorrow morning – but who of the new faces shall we hear from next in Fifteen? I would love to hear your choices in the comment section below.
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