To say hockey has been an important part of Nolan Zajac’s life would put it mildly. From his family to his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nolan’s hockey roots run deep.
Zajac is in his first year as a pro, joining the Walleye after a four-year career at the University of Denver.
“Teachers always asked me what I wanted to do when I got older and I always said be a pro hockey player,” says Zajac. “I went to college and got a degree, which was important for me, but my goal has always been playing pro.”
All three of Nolan’s older brothers are doing that as well. Travis (New Jersey Devils), Darcy (Coventry, England), and Kelly (South Carolina) have inspired Nolan as long as he can remember. “I think about skating with my older brothers and saying ‘this is the coolest thing ever’ and this is what I wanted to do. Growing up in Winnipeg it was always hockey and I’m glad the way it’s turned out.”
Something every young hockey player dreams about is scoring a game winning goal. Nolan’s first as a pro was a game winner, when he fired in a power play goal at Norfolk on October 29. “We had a good faceoff play set up, Sikky made a good pass back to me and I had to one time it and I’m glad it went in.”
Zajac followed that up the very next game by scoring at Wheeling on November 4. “It’s nice to get a couple early in the season to get the confidence going.”
While playing the game is what he’s always wanted to do, he has also been a huge fan of hockey as well. Nolan was only 4 years old and says he was doesn’t recall when the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Phoenix in 1996, but has great memories of when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.
“I remember when they announced that, I was downtown and the streets were flooded with people celebrating the return of the Jets. I really didn’t have a team other than cheering on Travis in New Jersey, so when Winnipeg got the Jets back, I had my team back as well. ”