Colorado Rubber

Colorado’s and Utah’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Colorado youth hockey graduate Smith developing overall game with USPHL powerhouse Rush


Zach Smith wound up playing this season in Charlotte, N.C., by way of Las Vegas and his hometown of Elbert.

Smith is playing his rookie season of junior hockey in 2023-24 with the Charlotte Rush, a perennial contender in the USPHL.

“I went out to the Global Las Vegas Showcase in late June and coach Trevor Jewell reached out to me after the showcase and I corresponded with him for a few weeks,” said Smith, who now lives in the Falcon area. “I talked with my parents and we all thought it was a good fit for me, so I decided to sign. It is a very structured organization and the culture here is phenomenal. I was also drawn by the championship pedigree. I also loved the fact that it was veteran-owned and operated, coming from a military family with my mom and dad both serving.

“It’s been great. I got paired with a great billet family. My billet dad is in the Army, so it reminds me a lot of home, but with all that said, it still comes with its hardships. I miss back home a lot still. It’s a lot getting used to, especially since this is the first time living away from home.”

Smith said he developed his love for hockey when his family moved to Colorado.

“I got started playing hockey when I was four when I first moved to Colorado,” said Smith. “My dad played hockey growing up in North Dakota and passed it down to me and my two older brothers. Watching my two older brothers play, I kind of just grew up around the rink. College hockey played a huge factor in my love for the sport growing up. Always having a University of North Dakota game on the TV and being able to watch them live when they came to play CC and DU made me fall in love.”

On the ice, Smith started playing for the Colorado Springs Tigers and then moved to the Colorado Rampage.

“Then I got my chance to play on my first AAA team my second year of Bantams with Monument Hockey Academy,” Smith said. “Alongside of that, I played my junior and senior year at Air Academy High School. I also played in the High Plains Hockey League for the Front Range Rangers where we ended up winning the state championship. A lot of coaches helped me out over the years. A couple of them that come to mind are my AAA coach George Pagonis and my High Plains coach Josh Cronk. They both taught me to push myself hard every day to make me a better hockey player. They helped me find my role on the ice and what I needed to do to push my team to the best we could be.

“I think my biggest takeaway from playing in Colorado will be all the great trips up in the mountains with my teams over the years to play up in Vail and Aspen. Those were always fun trips. Also one of the biggest memories I probably will never forget is my team’s journey to winning the state championship, one of the greatest moments in my life.”

Looking down the line, Smith has achievable goals, both on and off the ice.

“One of my short-term goals is to play at the college level,” said Smith. “I’ve always wanted to attend the University of North Dakota, but if hockey takes me elsewhere, so be it. I’ve always wanted to major in economics or business management.

“A long-term goal of mine is to play at some level of professional hockey whether that be in the SPHL or somewhere over in Europe. I also have wanted to get my commercial driver’s license so I can drive semis and create my own business. I have also always wanted to move to Montana and raise bison on a ranch.”

Photo/Charlotte Rush

— Matt Mackinder

(January 23, 2024)

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