For college students, summer vacation is a temporary break from school, but for men’s ice hockey junior foward Scott Zurevinski, he didn’t know whether to make his vacation from school a permanent one.
After being offered a contract to play professional ice hockey this past summer, the 22-year-old forward declined so he could continue his collegiate career.
“It was a big decision,” Zurevinski said. “Once you make those big decisions, you have to live with them. You can’t have any regrets.”
As Zurevinski attended the Vancouver Canucks Prospects Development Camp in Vancouver, B.C. in July, Vancouver offered the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native an entry-level contract. With two years of college eligibility remaining, Zurevinski turned down the offer.
“I just didn’t feel like I was ready to go,” Zurevinski said.
At the development camp, Zurevinski learned about what it takes to be a professional hockey player.
“I got to see how they practiced, how they trained, and what kind of fitness levels they came into camp with,” Zurevinski said.
Zurevinski found the camp to be one of the best experiences of his life.
“Putting the jersey on and all the equipment, and getting treated like a professional – it was awesome,” he said.
In experiencing what it was like to be a professional hockey player at the development camp, Zurevinski found the it to be different than the collegiate level.
“They treat you different up there,” he said. “You are almost like bait. You have to be ready to go. If you’re not ready to go, you may end up where you don’t want to be at.”
For Zurevinski, he was not ready to go quite yet.
“I think I need to mature for one more year and really round my game,” Zurevinski said. “I’ll make the jump when I feel that I’m ready to go.”
Zurevinski’s maturity thus far earned him the “C” on his game sweater as the team voted him the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team captain for the 2010-11 season.
“It’s an honor being captain as a junior,” Zurevinski said.
Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said Zurevinski began to show leadership in the second half of the 2009-10 season.
“He didn’t have a letter on his shirt, but he almost took over the team in a lot of ways,” Pecknold said. “He just has a presence about him. He plays hard. He competes.”
Players seem to gravitate toward Zurevinski, according to Pecknold, as he shows leadership qualities through his work ethic.
“I definitely lead by example,” Zurevinski said. “I try to work as hard as I can and show that hard work pays off in the end.”
Zurevinski is the seventh junior in Quinnipiac’s 35-year history to be named captain and the first since Ty Dienema was named captain in his third year in 2004-05.
His freshman year, Zurevinski was named the team’s Rookie of the Year, totaling 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points.
“[Freshman year] is definitely a big eye-opener,” Zurevinski said. “There are a lot of things you have to learn really quickly. You have to learn how to balance academics and athletics. It was a bit of a challenge, but it makes you grow as a person.”
Zurevinski continued to grow in offensive play last season, registering 16 goals and 14 assists for 30 points. He became the first sophomore to reach the 30-point mark since former standout Brandon Wong in 2007-08.
The junior forward has developed as a player “by leaps and bounds,” according to Pecknold.
“Because he’s worked on becoming a better athlete off the ice, we’ve seen his skating improve. He’s big, he’s physical and has a good hockey sense.”
Zurevinski will continue to move forward in improving all attributes of his game, as he hopes to win a championship and possibly receive another offer.
“You got to keep moving forward,” Zurevinski said. “I feel confident that I can get another offer and hopefully it turns out good for me. It keeps me motivated every day.”
Photo credit: Vanessa Stier