Boisean Zach Walker left Idaho when he was 14 to pursue his dream of playing professional hockey.
That dream has taken him to Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts and now Tennessee.
Walker received an exclusive invite to compete in the Nashville Predators' development camp this week, a sure sign the 19-year-old right winger is inching closer to his goal.
"They just want to get a sense of what I bring in terms of skill and how I play," Walker said. "Obviously they scout you throughout the year and they come to your games in college. They must have made a note somewhere that says that I wasn't bad. It definitely shows that something I did throughout the year or the last few years resonated with them and gave them a reason to say yes to inviting me to camp."
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Although Walker is too old for the NHL Draft, he hasn't given up on playing in the NHL. He'll have to take a more difficult path, which is nothing new.
Fresh off his eighth-grade year at Les Bois Junior High, Walker left Idaho in 2014 to play on an elite youth hockey team for two-time NHL Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Adam Foote.
Walker's stint with the Colorado Thunderbirds led to another invitation, this time to join the U.S. National Development Team Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
In 2016, Walker became the first Idahoan to play for the Boston College men's hockey team, and he will begin his junior year with the Eagles this fall.
"Obviously growing up more I'm realizing it's a lot harder (to play in the NHL) than just dreaming about it, but it's still definitely in the picture," Walker said. "My whole mindset at this point in my career is to be able to prove a lot of people wrong. I feel like I've done that a lot in the sense that I did come from Idaho and I've been able to have the opportunities that I have, but I am not satisfied with that."
Walker plans to finish his college career at Boston College before pursuing a path to the NHL as a free agent. Should he make it, Walker would be only the third Idahoan to play at hockey's highest level, according to Hockey-Reference.com.
The tiny town of Potlatch produced Idaho's only other NHL products. Pat Shea played for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1931-32 season, and Guyle Fielder played for the Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins in the 1950s.
Although Walker was born in Puyallup, Wash., his family moved to Boise before his second birthday, and he still calls Boise home.
"It allows you to have a chip on your shoulder. I think it's kind of nice to be overlooked in the sense that you have something to keep fighting for," Walker said. "I guess I've been doing that for a lot of my career, although people in Boise might not see, it's been a battle ever since I left. It's been a battle to keep my name out there and trying to improve and get the recognition I feel I deserve, so it's definitely nice to be able to have someone like Nashville bring me in."