Fortunately, Zakas connected with Billy McGuigan two summers ago.
Life in the Maritimes
McGuigan, who had just been named head coach of the Summerside Western Capitals on Prince Edward Island, invited him to training camp. He told Zakas if he didn’t make the team, he’d try to find some other place for the big defenseman to skate. Zakas was interested and loved the fact that Summerside would host the Royal Bank Cup in 2013, the National Junior A championship for all Canada.
So Zakas hopped in his car to make the 14-hour trip to PEI and programmed his GPS, but it broke halfway through the journey and he had to rely on maps to find his way. Zakas eventually arrived, but only an hour before the first on-ice training camp session after sleeping in his car to save money.
“When the general manager found out I had been sleeping in my car, he got me a hotel room,” said Zakas. “I survived a week of cuts and was placed with a billet family.
“Playing in Summerside was unbelievable. You’re outfitted head to toe with gear and get free sticks. The rink was amazing, a lot like Tsongas Arena (in Lowell).”
Zakas was traded to Bridgewater in late October of 2011, where he played the rest of last season. Although the team failed to make the playoffs, he got plenty of ice time and his game improved considerably.
“He’s a steady, stay-at-home, puck-moving defenseman,” Lumberjacks head coach Terry Rhindress told CKBW News when Zakas was acquired. “Nothing flashy, and he’s not going to jump up and throw a lot of offense at you. But he’s going to settle things down on the blue line for us.”
Zakas has settled in with the Dicks family, who are avid hockey fans as well as Lumberjacks’ season ticket holders. He is the family’s third billet and has fit right in.