Every hockey player dreams of making it to the National Hockey League.
This dream is coming true for former Mercyhurst men’s hockey goaltender, Ryan Zapolski.
Zapolski, who graduated in 2011 with a BA in biology, is making his way up the hockey ranks.
Playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) brings him one step closer to fulfilling his dream.
He recently signed a contract with the South Carolina Stingrays, the NHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins.
Signing a contract in the ECHL is not a guarantee, making it quite different from an NHL contract.
“Contracts in the ECHL are technically only 24-hour contracts, meaning you can be released from your contract at any time,” Zapolski said.
Having this pressure makes Zapolski work even harder to prove he is worthy to compete in the league. Being able to showcase his skills in the ECHL will hopefully prove to the Bruins he has the ability to play at the next level.
Zapolski is very happy to be playing with an affiliate of the Bruins.
“It’s a good situation for me to be in because we only have one affiliate, and will only get one NHL contracted goalie sent down to the ECHL,” Zapolski said.
Being placed in a situation with one goalie sent down allows Zapolski to get more playing time and opportunity to improve his skills. He has to compete for the job against one other goalie instead of a group of multiple players competing for the same spot on the roster.
During his time spent at the Hurst, Zapolski appeared in 109 games and posted a record of 48-43-11. He posted eight career shutouts, a 2.77 goals-against average and a save percentage of .920. Since signing with the Stingrays, he has appeared in nine games and has a 5-4 record; a save percentage of .948 and posted one shutout.
The ECHL releases the Reebok Hockey Goalie of the Week award to the goaltender who shows outstanding performance during the week. Zapolski received the award during the weeks of November 26 and March 11.
Currently, Zapolski leads the league in goals-against average with 1.58 and a .943 save percentage.