Iowa Heartlanders forward Zach White embracing professional opportunity

The forward originally thought he wouldn’t move past high school hockey. Eight years later, he’s playing for a professional club.


Contributed photo of Zack White.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Iowa Heartlanders forward Zach White thought his hockey career was over in high school.

After spending one season in junior hockey, the right-handed shooter planned to hang up his skates and attend college.

Then, Curry College — a small, private institution in the Boston suburb of Milton — offered him a spot on its NCAA Division III hockey team before the 2015-16 season.

“I ended up taking it,” White said. “It was a good experience, good coach, good players right here in Boston, so it’s a pretty nice place to be.”

White soared to new heights in not one, but two sports during his collegiate career.

He earned a second-team All-Conference mark in the Commonwealth Coast Conference his senior season, recording 23 goals and 16 assists in 26 games. White finished his college career with 49 goals and 39 total assists.

Each spring, White traded his hockey stick for a lacrosse stick. He competed each season in the cool New England air, making first-team All-Conference in 2018.

Initially, White found it challenging to play two different sports. But by the end of his career at Curry College, he became captain of both programs.

“I think it’s my work ethic,” White said about his captaincy. “What I try to do to help my teammates out. Like, I’m playing defense [with the Heartlanders], and I haven’t played defense in — I can’t tell you how long. I think it’s just my passion. How much I care for the other guys, and how much I have to offer.”

Now, eight years after he thought his playing career was over, the 26-year-old is in a professional hockey league with the ECHL’s Iowa Heartlanders.

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The 5-foot-7 forward played on the defensive end of the ice when the Heartlanders were two defensemen short during their series at the Rapid City Rush from Jan. 7-9. The Heartlanders won two of three games when White played as a blueliner.

White has competed in the U.S. and France since completing his college career. He started the 2021-22 season with the Vermilion County Bobcats in the Southern Professional Hockey League and joined the Heartlanders roster before Iowa’s Dec. 10 game against the Toledo Walleye. White tallied his first ECHL goal that night.

So far, White has accumulated two goals and five assists in 15 games.

“He just plays with a lot of confidence,” Heartlanders assistant coach Derek Damon said. “His motor never stops. He’s always confident on the go, and I think it’s really good being able to see him contribute on the offensive side and also the defensive side. He’s a little bit of a swiss army knife. He’ll do anything that’s asked of him.”

White quickly became friends with fellow forward Zach Remers when he joined the Heartlanders. Remers subbed in as a defenseman with White when the Heartlanders were short two blueliners against the Rapid City Rush.

“We’re both kind of jokesters, we’re pretty social, so it’s a lot of joking, a lot of fun,” Remers said. “But when it comes to game time, we’re both serious. We take the game very serious. So, it’s always fun to play with a competitor like that.”

White isn’t sure how his hockey career will end, but the forward from Connecticut said playing in the ECHL is a dream come true.

“I’m going along for the ride, just as long as I can be here,” White said.

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