A star in the making: Meet MSU Hockey's freshman Zach Osburn
With two flicks of the wrist Friday night, Zach Osburn unintentionally set the bar high for himself for the rest of the year.
With two goals, including the game tying goal in the late stages of the third period of the Spartans’ tie with Maine on Friday, freshman defenseman Osburn became an early season hero, which comes as no surprise from the Spartan camp.
“I thought he played real well for the most part all weekend,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “I thought his decision-making was good. I thought he defended well.”
Anastos was only adding to his praise of Osburn, in essence adding to his running dialogue on the strengths of the newcomer. At his preseason press conference earlier this year, Anastos compared Osburn to former MSU Hockey great Torey Krug. The current Boston Bruins defenseman is known for his offensive spark and gritty play, two things Osburn has exuded so far.
“The obvious was you could see what he brought to the table offensively, not just in goals but his puck movement was good,” Anastos said. “I don’t think he forced things. He made good decisions coming up the ice.”
The Plymouth native has stepped into his role of bolstering an already strong defensive core. Paired alongside junior defenseman Chris Knudson, Osburn has made his presence felt early in this young season. Besides the goals against Maine, Osburn also recorded an assist on captain Michael Ferrantino’s goal during the first period against Lake Superior State. Three points in his first two games, and on the road no less, is only a sign of great things to come from the young defenseman.
But Osburn, even with the quick results, has approached the game the same way as always — simply trying to make the right play.
“I wanted to play good, sound defense while still playing my game and contributing offensively as well,” Osburn said. “I got some shots through, I jumped in the play. I really tried to lock it down defensively.”
Osburn has impressed his coaches no doubt, and his confidence and positive attitude are going to be a catalyst not only for himself but the team moving forward. When asked about his first career goal, he was all smiles — a smile of the utmost confidence.
“It felt awesome, it was easily the most fun game I’ve ever played in,” Osburn said. “The atmosphere was great out in Maine. I felt really good.”
Osburn isn’t only confident to be at MSU, but he's also extremely excited to be a part of the MSU program. Osburn grew up in a big hockey family, and now the Osburn family has he even come full circle as the elder Osburn, Rick, played under Anastos when Anastos was the coach of University of Michigan-Dearborn’s hockey program.
Osburn not only wants to continue his success, but the success of the team as well. His goals mirror the team’s goals — breaking into the NCAA Tournament and gathering wins and hardware along the way.
“Not a whole lot of goals besides winning a few championships with this team,” Osburn said. “I think we have the potential to do it. We got a strong offense this year, and very strong D core, and obviously with Hildy back there, you can’t go wrong.”
Osburn knows it’ll take a whole team effort to win a championship, but his excitement for the challenge and to be a Spartan isn’t lost on Anastos. In fact, Osburn’s excitement has become a good-natured joke among the staff.
“I call him, like he’s a puppy, his tail's always wagging, he’s always happy to see people and be around,” Anastos said. “He loves being with his teammates.”
With all the hype surrounding his play, he still finds a way to take it in stride. Osburn might just become MSU’s next emerging star, and the catalyst MSU needs to bring the program back to the tournament.