It’s a long road to the start of the 2017-18 Eastern Hockey League season, but the Total Athletics Seahawks are chomping at the bit to get going.
By Joshua Boyd
Head coach Bill Zaniboni has joined the Hyannis, Mass.-based organization as its head coach. The Seahawks hope he can continue his winning tradition, as he led the Dells Ducks of the USPHL to a pair of league championships (2015 in the former Minnesota Junior Hockey League, and the 2016 USPHL Midwest championship).
“It’s obviously exciting. I haven’t lived back [in Massachusetts] for about 17 years. Now that I have my own family, I can get them around where I grew up and around my family, it’s a huge bonus to be able to coach and get into that market,” said Zaniboni, a native of Plymouth, Mass., not far from Cape Cod.
Zaniboni played his high school hockey with Massachusetts powerhouse Catholic Memorial, also the alma mater of Warren Nighan. Nighan and Mike Sherman are co-owners of Total Athletics, which offers travel teams in several different sports.
“I’m excited about the Seahawks, as there are a lot of great things going on there,” said Zaniboni. “They bring a lot of excitement and activities for all ages to the Cape.”
Joining the EHL as a new team in its signature division, Zaniboni said it’s exciting to be a part of a league with such a strong reputation for college advancement.
“It’s a league that’s been around for a while, and it is the leader in NCAA Division 2 and 3 commitments. There are a lot of teams in that league that have a great history,” Zaniboni added.
In building the new team, Zaniboni said he’s sticking to his approach of “building based on character.”
“This will be a blue-collar team. I don’t expect to come into a league and win a championship, but I expect to come in and be competitive,” Zaniboni said. “If we’re fortunate enough to be successful, great, but helping kids advance to college is the No. 1 goal.”
He is building a foundation of players with whom he’s worked in Wisconsin the last couple years.
Former Dells defensemen Billy Purdue and Jonathan Banovetz and forward Trace Pederson, have signed with the Seahawks to continue developing with Zaniboni.
“The fortunate thing is the guys who have played for me [in Wisconsin] want to continue to play for me,” said Zaniboni. “That will help the transition a little bit, having guys who have seen my systems and know what I preach.”
Zaniboni will continue to scout this off-season, including stops at the Global Showcases in Chicago and Las Vegas. He will also attend many North American Hockey League and United States Hockey League camps.
Zaniboni was also honored to be named by USA Hockey as a coach for the U16 Development Camp in New York in July.
“This is something I’ve wanted to be a part of as a coach. I am happy to now get a chance to be around so many great hockey minds and players,” he added.