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Huntington Beach native Zapata decides on NCAA D-III Utica

 

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After three years with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, Dante Zapata is heading to college.

Earlier this offseason, the Huntington Beach native and talented forward committed to attend and play NCAA Division III hockey this fall at Utica College.

Utica plays in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference and is located in Utica, N.Y.

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“Our assistant spotted Dante immediately at the September showcase,” said Utica head coach Gary Heenan. “We have a specific need for size and smarts through the middle. Dante certainly has that. After speaking with Coach Howard and getting to know Dante in the recruiting process, it became clear that he was a leader with tremendous character. We look forward to introducing Dante to the No. 1 fan base in Division III hockey.”

Zapata is tied for sixth all-time in regular-season games played for the Bruins with 154. During the 2018-19 season, Zapata was an assistant captain and finished fourth in team scoring with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists).

“Dante played in Austin for three years and he consistently got better each year,” Austin coach Steve Howard said. “He was one of our leaders and his play mirrored that. We thank Dante for spending his entire junior career in Austin and we are excited to follow his career at Utica College.”

“I’m thankful to the Austin Bruins – it was a great three-year run,” added Zapata. “I’ve grown as a player and as a leader over the past three years. I am looking forward to furthering my education and playing hockey at Utica College.”

Zapata compiled 74 points (23 goals, 51 assists) during the regular season with the Bruins. During his first season, he totaled 11 total points (five goals, six assists) and followed that up with 27 points (four goals, 23 assists) last year. In 2018-19, Zapata had his best season offensively. He also scored two goals to help Austin eliminate the Aberdeen Wings in Game 3 of the first round of the NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Photo/Austin Bruins

— Matt Mackinder

(July 12, 2019)