Zack Kamrass breaks the mold of just about every hockey stereotype.
In a sport dominated by players from Canada, Europe and cold-weather American states, Kamrass is from Georgia.
At a position known for imposing players with booming shots, Kamrass quietly gets the job done at 5-feet-11 and 190 pounds.
And in a game where rookies often struggle to find their footing, Kamrass has been rock-solid since joining the Steelheads. He tallied five points in six games at the end of last season, and he’s putting together an excellent rookie campaign this year for first-year head coach Neil Graham.
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“He’s not playing like a first-year player,” Graham said. “When he came in last year, he made an impact right away. And this year, he’s been our best defenseman. I have no doubt he’ll continue to grow and progress as a hockey player.”
Kamrass, who celebrated his 25th birthday Monday, was introduced to the ice by his mom, a figure skater, and a family friend who got Kamrass and his brother hooked on hockey. Zack went on to a successful four-year career at UMass-Lowell, where he was named team captain as a senior.
Last spring, Kamrass joined a first-place Steelheads squad for the stretch run. He fit in seamlessly, and Graham called it “a no-brainer” to invite him back to Boise.
Kamrass’ solid two-way game matches his calm, unassuming demeanor off the ice. If one passed him on the street, they’d have a hard time guessing he makes his living battling it out in the corners.
“I may not be the most overly physical guy, but I try to make up for it by moving my feet, and with smarts,” Kamrass said. “I try to use my hockey IQ and be a cerebral player.”
Idaho defenseman Shawn Boutin says the secret to his blue line partner’s success is his skating ability.
“A lot of it is about positioning. He knows where to be, and he knows how to skate. When you’re not the biggest guy out there, that’s when you just have to keep skating and competing as hard as you can,” Boutin said.
In addition to steady play on defense, Kamrass has a knack for scoring. Through 27 games, he leads Idaho defensemen with 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists). He scored a shorthanded beauty against Florida during the last homestand and notched a power play game-winner Friday in Tulsa.
“Being strong in the defensive zone is the No. 1 priority, but if I see and opportunity to join the rush and contribute offensively, absolutely I try to do that,’’ Kamrass said.
Steelheads start homestand
▪ Wednesday: vs. Utah Grizzlies, 7:10 p.m. (Promotion: $2 beers)
▪ Friday-Saturday: vs. Allen Americans, 7:10 p.m. (Friday promotion: 4 for $46 Family Fun, four tickets, four sodas, four hot dogs for $46)
▪ Tickets: Tickets start at $10 and $17 and are available at the CenturyLink Arena box office, 208-331-8497 or at idahosteelheads.com