This is a big year for Zach Rose as he prepares for his final season of junior A hockey in Canada before heading off to college in the United States, but the goaltender from Paradise will have to wait a while before he starts facing shots.
Rose, the Victoria Grizzlies’ starting goaltender last season in the British Columbia Hockey League, will be on the sidelines until December or January as he rehabs from off-season shoulder surgery.
The 19-year-old puckstop rose to prominence at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Truro, N.S., over the Christmas holidays last year, backstopping Canada West to the gold medal.
He allowed only seven goals on 120 shots for a 1.58 goals against average and .942 save percentage, and was named tournament's MVP and all-star netminder.
He made 35 saves in a 5-1 win over the United States in the tournament final.
Two months later, he signed a Letter of Intent to join the Bowling Green State University Falcons on a full athletic scholarship beginning in 2019-2020.
He will join teammate and St. John’s native Alex Newhook in the NCAA ranks next season. Newhook is set to attend Boston College on a full athletic scholarship.
However, Rose has been dealt a setback following surgery in July to repair a torn labrum. The operation was conducted in St. John’s.
Rose initially hurt the shoulder after landing awkwardly during a summer skate in 2017.
“It dislocated, but popped back in,” he said. “Same thing happened in practice last season. And then sometimes I’d bend over to pick something up and it would pop again.”
During a game against the Cowichan Capitals last season, a player fell on Rose and the Grizzlies’ netminder hurt the shoulder again.
“It was the only time I missed a game because of it,” he said.
Over the summer while working with trainer Jon Reid (who enjoyed a brief stint with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s St. John’s Fog Devils during their time in Newfoundland), Rose found doing certain exercises harder and harder.
“I had it checked out and doctors decided surgery was needed,” he said. “And the off-season was probably the best time.”
Rose says he’s ahead of schedule with his rehab, and is hoping for a December return. Another trip to the world junior A tournament to close out his junior career would be unbelievable, he said.
“I started skating with equipment on a few weeks ago,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of work to keep the legs strong, a lot of cardio work, and they’re working on my right arm to get the muscles engaged again.
“I can’t wait to start facing shots again.”