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March 27, 2013

Gurzell caps career with Athens hockey as second-team All-State recipient

By Terry Oparka
C & G Sports Writer

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Gurzell caps career with Athens hockey as second-team All-State recipient
Nathan Gurzell finished the season with 40 goals and 31 assists in 27 games. He was named to the Division 1, second-team All-State roster.

TROY — When a big goal was needed, it usually came from his stick.

When an open teammate had the chance to score, more often than not, the puck was delivered flawlessly before it found its resting place in the back of the net.

So the story went for Nathan Gurzell and the offensive attack the Troy Athens hockey team had all season.

If the Red Hawks were in action, Gurzell was on the score sheet.

“I’ve never coached an offensive player like him,” coach Joe Barone said. “He had such an amazing scoring ability, but what was more, the rate he was able to do it at was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

Barone wasn’t the only coach impressed.

Following the conclusion of the 2013 state playoffs, the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association named Gurzell to the Division 1, second-team All-State roster.

“It’s a huge honor,” Gurzell said last week. “It means a lot. It makes it seem like everything I worked for paid off.”

Gurzell closed the winter with 40 goals and 31 assists in 27 games. He added six power-play goals, two short-handed tallies, and three that clinched wins for Athens.

What impressed Barone the most, though, was Gurzell’s 2.63 points-per-game average.

“He was the leader of our team in every way,” Barone said. “Especially down the stretch — he really put us on his back.”

Gurzell had a respectable 35 points last year as a junior, after scoring in the 20s as a sophomore.

But this was his breakout year, without question.

“I understood the game more. I knew what role I had to take on,” Gurzell explained. “It was a maturation process for me.”

“It was all about maturing into the game,” Barone said when asked about the biggest difference from last year to this. “He worked harder in the offseason than ever before, and this year, he owned the mental aspect of playing hockey. That made everything change.”

Gurzell is set to attend Central Michigan University in the fall, where he said he hopes to play for the school’s club hockey team.

As for Barone?

“Not even thinking about next year,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t want to even consider our team without a kid like Nathan on it.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.