BRYAN WILSON – 05.14.2023
Connor Zary has arrived in the Pacific Division Finals.
Zary had a weight lifted off his shoulders in Game 2 against the Firebirds, when he scored his first goal of the postseason- in style – at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The 21-year-old placed high expectations on himself heading into the playoffs, after finishing his second AHL season with 21 goals and 58 points. The Flames’ 2020 First Round pick (24th overall) picked up two assists against the Abbotsford Canucks in the previous series but as an offensive-minded player, he expects to light the lamp.
The contest was scoreless in the late stages of the opening period of Game 2 when Zary picked up the puck in the Wranglers zone and wheeled up the ice, crossing the blueline and walking around a Firebirds defenceman, driving the net and ripping a shot glove-side. It was a thing of beauty.
“It’s always fun, when you try something, and it works out,” said Zary after the game. “I didn’t see much, so I just tried to make a little move there at the blueline and it ended up working out and just happy that one went in.”
Wranglers’ head coach Mitch Love was pleased to see the goal go in, crediting Zary’s play away from the puck for the chances he was creating in Game 2.
“Connor’s a guy that wants to make plays. He’s an offensive player, that’s been his calling card his whole career,” explained Love. “There’s a process to doing that, this time of year it’s tough to score, and you’ve got to do things away from the puck in order to get the puck back to make plays offensively.”
Now with the proverbial monkey off his back, Zary admits he’s feeling more confident heading into Game 3.
“It felt great obviously,” Zary continued. “I’ve been stymied a little bit in the first few games of the playoffs here and just to get that one in the back of the net and get that confidence back is good for me.”