Pochiro Out to Prove He's No Gamble

Wednesday, 07.09.2014 / 12:01 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
By Dan O'Neill  - St. Louis Blues
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Pochiro Out to Prove He\'s No Gamble
We sat down with St. Louis native and Blues prospect Zach Pochiro during Development Camp.

Meet Zach Pochiro.

Zach has been a St. Louisan his entire life, though more in spirit than in residence. His parents moved the family to Las Vegas when he was just one-year-old. His mom worked in the gaming industry while in St. Louis and has continued that work since, while his dad currently owns a furniture business that doubles as a boxing gym. A former fighter himself, his dad also works as a promoter and manager for boxers and houses their training in the back rooms of his warehouse.

Having a father with his own training gym would seem to be an advantage for a kid trying to move up the athletic ladder, but as Zach points out, it had its drawbacks.

Think about it.

If you mess up, and your father has an arsenal of professional punchers at his disposal, you wouldn’t need to be be reminded twice about your mistake. Zach admits he trains in the gym occasionally, but with a regular temperature north of 100 degrees, it doesn’t provide optimal conditions for an athlete looking to add bulk rather than slim down for a weigh-in.

Zach climbed the hockey pyramid through AAA programs in Las Vegas, crediting his father for pledging countless hours driving to practices and games, which many times were in California. He began his high school career as a two-sport athlete, making the cut for the varsity basketball team as a freshman. But when a dense winter schedule proved to be too taxing, a decision had to be made. He chose hockey, and circle gets the square.

His parents' dedication, accompanied by his unwavering work ethic and drive, eventually led to the realization of his lifelong dream. Despite leaving St. Louis before he had the chance to experience it, the city’s sports teams traveled with him. He remained a Blues, Cardinals and Rams fan. He remembers watching the “Greatest Show on Turf” and the Blues’ 2000 Presidents’ Trophy-winning club, which featured his favorite player, Chris Pronger.

In 2013, Zach came home when the Blues selected him in the fourth round (No. 112 overall). On that day, he became a walking, breathing example that dreams can come true. And, in his case, prove to exceed fantasy.

The Sin City native is not a lucky gamble. He's worked his way to this point by emerging from a region that isn’t exactly known as an assembly line for cold-weather athletes. He is hockey’s version of a gym rat, using local connections in Vegas to find ice time whenever he can. To his point, his hard work has landed him with Prince George of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

Last season, he produced a 27-goal, 66-point performance, a substantial hike from a 15-goal, 39-point rookie campaign. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound forward, known as “Stretch” by his teammates and “Vegas” by the prospects as this year’s Development Camp, also made his East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) debut with the Blues’ affiliate in Kalamazoo last season. While his physical specs wouldn’t suggest it, Zach’s lunch money isn’t an easy grab. He’s racked up 228 penalty minutes over the past two seasons in the WHL, five of which came in a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” one night, an occasion he recalls as his most memorable hockey moment.

Zach likens himself to a jack-of-all-trades on the ice. Scoring, hitting, fighting, killing penalties, power play, and if you can think of anything else, he’s game for that, too. His effective style was on display for the Blues’ brass at the 2013 Traverse City Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan...a competition that saw Zach evolve from a role player at its start and into a leader by its conclusion. After watching his play, the Blues scouting staff left Michigan with a strong sense of validation. His value was unmistakable.

As for his future, Zach doesn’t just want to make the NHL roster. He wants to lead it.

Back in 2013, that door cracked open. Soon, Blues fans might just see him step through that door and contradict the notion that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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