Zoran Popel nets goal and assist in Jr. B Prospects Game


By Joel Charron

Former Amherstburg Star Zoran Popel recorded a goal and an assist in Monday night’s Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s (GOJHL) Prospects Game at the Vollmer Center.

Popel, who now plays for the Port Colborne Pirates was selected to represent the Pirates as a member of the Golden Horseshoe and Midwestern Conference Blue team in his first year in the league.


Zoran Popel has had a steller rookie season with the Port Colborne Pirates, netting 13 goals and adding 10 assists.

This is Popel’s first opportunity to play close to home since leaving for the Pirates training camp in August.

“I’m pretty excited, I haven’t even sat down since I’ve been here,” said Popel before the game.

In 34 games with the Pirates, Popel has 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points. The 18-year-old said he started the season hot but has since hit a “rookie wall.”

“I’ve hit a little bit of a wall,” said Popel, “Nothing seems like it’s going right now. I’m not scoring but I just have to keep working through it and I’m sure everything will come around.”

Popel’s Blue Team got off to a slow start, falling behind 3-0 in the first period to their GOJHL White Team counterparts. The Blue team clawed their way back, netting the next three goals however the White Team stormed ahead scoring the next three goal and held a 6-3 lead after 40 minutes.

Popel cut into the lead in the beginning of the third, scoring on a nifty move to beat the goalie on a penalty shot.

Both team trade goals, while Popel notched his second point of the game on the Blue Teams fifth goal.

The Blue Team found the back of the net to make it 7-6, however the White team scored two late goals to ice the game, 9-6.

“I’m feel pretty good about the way I play,” said Popel after the game. “My goal was a penalty shot goal, but you have to take them when you can get them.”

Popel also participated in the breakaway relay skill competition event, but was stuffed on his breakaway attempt.

“It was a pretty good game, it was really quick out there on the ice,” explained Popel. “It’s the best guys in the league out there so you have to keep your head up.”

Popel said it took a few shift before he started to feel some chemistry with his line mates.

“It’s a little tough playing with guys you’ve never played with before but you eventually gel with them during the game,” he said.   “Adapting on the fly is what helps you be better.“

Adapting is something Popel has had to do since making the transition to Jr. B hockey.

“The pace of the game is way quicker,” said Popel. “You don’t get much time with the puck but when the chances to come you have to bury them or those chances won’t come.”

Popel said he’s been enjoying his first year with the Pirates, noting that it was a little “weird” playing away from home for the first time but has since settled into his role on the team.

“It’s great playing there,” he said. “The locker room is great, the guys I play with are great. It’s just a fun atmosphere to be around.”

With 20 games left in the season, the Port Colborne Pirates are currently in third place with a 24-12-1 record for 49 points.


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