Juneau-Douglas High School senior hockey forward Zach Easton has life in order. He plans traveling the world working as a petroleum engineer after earning a degree from Montana Tech.
“It is a four-year degree, I believe,” Easton said. “Hopefully I can work for oil companies around the world. My dad worked for an oil company in Japan. I got to go over there a little bit. He said petroleum engineers can work anywhere in the world. I thought that would be pretty cool.”
For the time being, Easton helps engineer the Crimson Bears offense on the ice, his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame laying out a plan to take the puck off the boards and drilling shots at opposing goalies.
“He is feisty,” Juneau-Douglas coach Luke Adams said. “He is one of our more aggressive players. He has shown a lot of team commitment, showing up for events ready to practice. He has a lot of drive and creates a lot of momentum for our team when we need it in a lot of given situations.”
That was evident in last weekend’s series against the Bartlett Golden Bears.
Easton tallied one assist the first night and one goal and an assist the second - not overwhelming numbers but these were in addition to the blocks, hits, takeouts, feeds, disruptions and end-to-end effort.
“He is not a skill player, he is more of a grinder but he finds a way to get to the net and score a lot of goals by doing little things right,” Adams said. “He creates a lot of energy for our team but just has a way of scoring goals when we need them.”
Easton began playing hockey the first year the Juneau Douglas Ice Association had a squirts team, roughly a year after Treadwell Arena opened.
“Hockey is just a lot of fun,” Easton said. “Everything about it. There is nothing I don’t like about it. Skating, shooting pucks around, the team, getting a couple good passes in before a sweet goal. It is just amazing.”
Easton has developed into a forward left wing position.
“When we are breaking out of the zone I end up on the boards to catch a pass when we have possession, that is always fun,” Easton said. “When we don’t have possession my job is to cover the point guy, get in his passing lane and not give him a clear shot to our goalie, and try to block shots if they shoot it.”
Coaches call him “Zeaston” and teammates drop the Z.
“I think it is because we have two Zachs on the team (Hebert is the other),” Easton said.
Easton’s most memorable moment this season was scoring the winning goal against Lathrop on Dec. 12, the Crimson Bears’ first win over the Malemutes. The rebound shot came with 2:57 remaining in the third period.
Easton said the highlight of his career, however, was his freshman season.
“It was pretty embarrassing, actually,” Easton said. “The seniors had me and Ethan (Seid) lead the skate around after the period break on a warm up lap, but only me and Ethan went out, the rest of them stayed behind. It was completely on purpose. A nice bit of fun for a home game.”
Easton’s favorite food is meat.
“I really like bacon,” Easton said. “But cheeseburgers are really good. A good steak, any meat. I can’t really narrow it down, they are all so good.”
His favorite movie is Law Abiding Citizen; favorite musical group is Avicii; and his favorite book is Lord of the Rings.
His hobbies, aside from hockey, include snowboarding, disc golf and League of Legends (video game). He also enjoys long boarding, careening down a hill on an elongated skateboard.
The Crimson Bears depend on his ice time more than his carving on the slopes and hills.
“He scores big goals in a lot of games,” Adams said. “He is a big game player and this weekend we are going to need him.”
The Crimson Bears will play familiar foe West Valley on Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.) at Treadwell Arena. The Wolfpack lead the Mid Alaska Conference and are one of the top teams in the state. In 1984 they were runner-up to Dimond for the state title. Since 1996 the Wolfpack have qualified for every state tournament, finishing as runner-up to Chugiak in 2000, and fourth in ’02, ’04, ’05, ’06 and 2011.
“We are going to have to make sure we don’t get sucked in and watch their point guy sneak down,” Easton said. “We have to try to play man-to-man and not let our guys out of our sight, don’t give them any space because they are a good team and will capitalize on that.”
Sounds like Easton has engineered a winning strategy.