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RoughRiders alum, Aurora product Purcell makes NCAA D-I American International next destination


For Aurora native Zach Purcell, the allure of playing college hockey and getting a degree at the same time was always the dream.

Now, that dream is one step closer after the 2000 birth year and first-year Lone Star Brahmas (NAHL) forward committed last week to NCAA Division I American International College for the 2020-21 season.

American International is part of the Atlantic Hockey conference and is located in Springfield, Mass.

“I had a lot of help from current and past coaches putting my name out there and helping me get exposure to schools,” Purcell said. “It’s definitely a dream come true, for sure. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and all the people fighting in my corner. I’ll be able to play against the Air Force Academy, which is in my home state. I couldn’t have done it without all of the hours my coaches and teammates put in that aren’t seen by others.

“Next season, I want to be in the lineup as often as I can and seeing if I can crack the top nine forwards is definitely a goal for me. I know AIC is a smaller school with good academics that’ll definitely fit with what I want to do after hockey. Their hockey team is definitely competitive every year to be in the top 20, so I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Purcell is currently on a four-game point streak with Lone Star, totaling ten points (four goals, six assists) in eight games during the 2020-21 season.

“On behalf of the Lone Star Brahmas, we’d like to congratulate Zach on his commitment to American International College,” said Lone Star assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “AIC is getting a player with an elite skill set and someone who has shown perseverance throughout the ranks of junior hockey.”

Last season, Purcell skated for the Steinbach Pistons in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, going for 34 goals and 52 points in 59 games after three seasons with the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders.

During the 2017-18 season, he was named to the All-NAPHL 18U 3rd Team and played in the 2018 NAPHL 18U All-Star Game. In three NAPHL seasons, Purcell appeared in 55 total games and had 53 points.

Purcell said the start to the current season has “been going well so far.”

“We’ve only played a few games, but I think we are off to a good start,” he said. “My linemates and I have connected really well since we are also all roommates. It should be a fun season down here.”

In the short term and long term, Purcell has his eyes set on reachable goals and aspirations.

“My personal goals for the season are to really improve my play away from the puck and also improve my defensive side of the game,” said Purcell. “I would also like to be top-three in points for the Brahmas this season. As a team, I think we all want to finish first in the league and then have a chance at the Robby at the end of the year.”

Photo/Clicks By Candice

— Matt Mackinder

(Nov. 25, 2020)

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