Sep 21, 2023

Zach Berzolla is the new guy who’s not really the new guy. Yes, the defenseman was one of six free agents from another organization signed by the Wolf Pack over the course of the summer. That makes him a new guy. Wolf Pack fans will recall, however, that Berzolla has been there and done that before with the Wolf Pack.

Nearly two years ago, on September 20th, 2021, Berzolla signed his first AHL deal with the Wolf Pack. He’d make his AHL debut that season and dress in eight games with the club. After a one-season stop with the Rochester Americans, Berzolla is back in Hartford.

Berzolla entered the market knowing what he was looking for and set his sights on a Hartford return as a result.

“The Wolf Pack organization is studded with fantastic leadership and staff,” Berzolla said when asked what prompted his return. “They are supportive, but also push me to strengthen my skills as a player and my development.”

Development is the name of the game for young players, which Berzolla still very much is. The 25-year-old defenseman returns to Hartford after playing four games with the Americans last season. His biggest impact a season ago came with the Cincinnati Cyclones, the new ECHL affiliate of the Wolf Pack.

With the Cyclones, Berzolla scored 25 points (6 g, 19 a) in 56 regular season games. He also appeared in eleven Kelly Cup Playoff games with the club.

“I personally believe that my success with the Cyclones can be attributed to my professional growth and confidence throughout the last few years,” he said when asked about the 2022-23 campaign. “I played a bigger role in the lineup, and I felt that my development grew throughout the year as a result.”

Like many of the players who will report to Hartford in the coming weeks, Berzolla enters training camp with a level of confidence after a successful season. Like the other players coming to town, however, Berzolla knows that things won’t be easy during training camp.

While it’ll be a tough, competitive camp, Berzolla isn’t shying away from that.

“Being involved in a highly competitive training camp is beneficial,” Berzolla admitted. “It certainly helps in getting me ready for the start of the season.”

Berzolla is getting ready not just for the start of the season, but to reacquaint himself with the Wolf Pack fanbase. He specifically mentioned his first career AHL goal as a favorite memory, which came as a member of the Wolf Pack during the 2021-22 season.

He’s hoping to quickly reintroduce himself with his style of play on the ice.

“Fans can expect to see a tough, dedicated defenseman who makes strong, simple plays,” Berzolla said when he was asked to describe his game. “I’m someone that can play a mixed style and bring leadership, energy, and physicality.”

That kind of style will certainly help Berzolla achieve his goal in early October, which is to make the Wolf Pack’s opening night roster. That can always be a challenge for a ‘new guy’, but Berzolla won’t be having that ‘first day at a new school’ feeling this time around.

He’s excited to be back, to see old friends, and to continue the development path that has given him confidence over his three seasons as a professional hockey player.

“It’s definitely nice,” he said of returning. “Seeing some familiar faces every day will be a refreshing start to the year! I loved my time in Hartford and I’m looking forward to working and excelling in a lot of areas in my career this year, both on and off the ice.”

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ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.  

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