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Jr. Sharks alum Galambos making waves

 

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It’s already been a whirlwind season for Walnut Creek native Zak Galambos – and it’s only October.

After completing last season in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with the Janesville Jets, the 1997-born defenseman was all set for a full year in Wisconsin and had already reported to training camp when he was informed he’d been traded to Johnstown, Pa., and would be suiting up for the NAHL’s Tomahawks.

“I was pretty devastated when it happened,” said Galambos. “I’m not going to lie; I had a bunch of friends in Janesville, and that’s the first team I was really comfortable with, but once I got here the guys were really welcoming and I settled in quickly.

“I think everything happens for a reason, and ending up here in Johnstown was certainly for the best.”

The decision to go out and acquire Galambos was an easy one for the Tomahawks, who were looking to add skill to their blue line and found it in the 6-foot-2, 175-pound San Jose Jr. Sharks product.

“We had a need for a good-skating, puck-moving defenseman,” said Tomahawks head coach Mike Letizia. “He’s been very good for us. Not only does he skate well, he has an edge to his game I really like; he’s not afraid to be nasty out there.

“He’s a key guy for us, and a guy we’re going to rely on in all situations this year.”

Last month, NHL Central Scouting recognized Galambos on its “Players to Watch” list for 2016 draft-eligibles, which were released last month. He was tabbed a C-rated prospect – a fourth-, fifth- or six-round draft candidate.

For Galambos, being included on the list comes as an honor, but is still something to be taken with a grain of salt.

“I was really excited,” said Galambos. “It’s something I wasn’t expecting at all, and even though I certainly enjoyed it when the list came out, right now I’m just trying to get it out of my mind; I’m not dwelling on it, and I don’t want it to affect what I’m trying to work towards on the ice.”

Goaltender Evan Sarthou, a Washington native who played locally for the LA Selects and Los Angeles Jr. Kings, was also tabbed by Central Scouting. Now in his third season with the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans, Sarthou is a B-rated prospect (a potential second- or third-round pick).

Letizia sees something special in Galambos, who was attracting increasing attention from NCAA programs even before the preliminary draft list was released.

“I think it’s important when you get recognized for your hard work,” said Letizia. “He took it as motivation more than anything. He’s not satisfied; he still wants to improve. He’s a sponge for knowledge, and he’s always out after practice working on things or talking to the coaches.

“There are a lot of tools he has that are going to make him successful if he continues to work hard.”

The fact that the Tomahawks sent a dozen players to NCAA schools last season certainly isn’t lost on Galambos, who has his eyes on securing a Division I scholarship.

“I just want to keep developing as a player,” said Galambos. “Mike has really given me the opportunity to do that here by playing me in all situations, and that’s something that’s going to help me a lot going forward.”

While Galambos has only played a handful of games with the Tomahawks, Letizia knows good things lie ahead if the young defenseman stays on his current path.

“Individuals go as far as teams go,” said Letizia. “If we have success, it makes (scouts) want to come watch us play. He’s always willing to help the team, and he’s ready to put the team’s goals in front of his own.

“When that happens, things usually fall into place in a good way.”

– John B. Spigott