Athlete of the Week: Richard Zehnal
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
Western Michigan University Broncos hockey battles Miami on Friday, which means another chance for Richard Zehnal to make an impact.
When Zehnal came to WMU from Europe, he started playing hockey right away. Just not for the Broncos.
Instead, he played for Western's club team. But that was then, this is now.
Zehnal took a somewhat improbable leap from club player, to valued member of the 15th ranked hockey team in the country.
Zehnal chose WMU for the same reasons as his teammates.
He said, "I was playing juniors and I got recruited here. I thought ‘I love the school.’ I looked it over, I did my research, I love the program and the history of it. Just seem like the right choice and it's a good fit "
But unlike his teammates, Zehnal is the only current Bronco to play club hockey before joining the varsity team
He said, "There's surprisingly quite a few good players in the league, but this is a different level and I couldn't be happier "
He's also the only European on the roster, coming to the states when he was 15-years-old from the Czech Republic.
Zehnal said, "It was unique experience. I didn't know anyone in the states. My English wasn't that good, but I managed and after a couple years it felt like home "
Zehnal's talent showed in a win against Colorado College, with the junior netting his first career goal to clinch an overtime win.
He said, "I always thought about how my first goal was going to go and I always thought it was going to be a garbage goal. It was a pretty nice one."
Perhaps a sign of more to come for Zehnal, who puts the Bronco sweater on with pride
He said, "It's a great atmosphere here every day. I can't say anything bad about it, it's unbelievable."
Richard's brother also goes to school at WMU, much to the delight of his parents who were able to visit from Europe and not only spend Christmas with their wo sons in Kalamazoo, but also see Richard suit up and play at Lawson Arena.