116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The list over the years is long.
Guys like Andrew Poturalski. Guys like Ross Colton. Guys like Teddy Purcell. Guys like Marc McLaughlin.
They all have played or are playing in the National Hockey League. They all decided back in their junior days to return for a second season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
Which makes you wonder if Zaccharya Wisdom is the next one. The next “guy.”
It’s significantly early in the United States Hockey League season, but the 18-year-old Toronto resident has stepped up his game, his offensive production thus far in his second go-around in the green and black. He had four goals and eight points in his first seven games.
Any time you are scoring over a point a game in the USHL, that’s doing a lot of good. The RoughRiders host Green Bay on Friday night at ImOn Ice and play Saturday night in Wisconsin.
“I think it’s honestly just the team,” Wisdom said. “Our line’s doing well, every line’s doing well. I think it’s Coach putting out the game plan and us following it to a T. (It’s) confidence, being a second-year guy. I don’t want to say me, me, me, because it’s not.
“It’s a team game, it’s a team effort. I wouldn’t be able to put pucks in the net if I didn’t get that pass. I think it’s just the team gelling well and doing well.”
Wisdom is on pace to shatter his numbers from last season. He originally was a USHL draft pick of the Chicago Steel but was let go, hooked up with Cedar Rapids and made the team as a free agent forward.
He had 10 goals and 23 points in 53 games, committing to Colorado College in the process. Used to the grind, the competition, the level of play now, he is excelling.
“It’s being not the youngest guy anymore,” he said. “I was the youngest guy last year, and I’m not the youngest guy this year. I think just knowing the systems a bit better, just understanding the speed of the game, the physicality that comes with it, stuff like that (has been key).”
He was asked if it was his goal this season to be one of his team’s go-to players, especially considering the RoughRiders have dealt with a plethora of injuries thus far. Cedar Rapids was 2-4-1 going into the weekend.
“Of course,” he said. “I want to make a difference all around the ice, when it comes to defense, offense, being physical, being a leader, things like that. I want to come in this season and make an impact any way I can. It just so happens that having a couple of points is big right now for us. But I just want to impact the team in any way I can.
“We’ve got a lot of guys out. It hurts, but I think we’re doing a good job of staying afloat here.”
Wisdom’s older brother, Zayde, is a forward with the American Hockey League’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a fourth-round draft pick of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers in 2020. The brothers are a great story, sleeping in the back of their single mother’s tow truck at times as little kids while she worked multiple jobs to give them opportunities in hockey.
Zaccharya was considered a possible NHL draft pick this past summer but was not selected by anyone.
“I mean, it’s the draft, it’s every kid’s dream. Of course I was disappointed,” he said. “But I didn’t see it as the end of the world. There are so many guys who have come out of this program that are playing in the NHL right now. (2021-22 RoughRiders defenseman) Joe Fleming just signed with Vegas. It’s not the end all, be all. You’ve just got to put your hard hat on and go to work. That’s what I’m here for.
“It’s a chip on the shoulder, for sure.”
RoughRiders Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson was asked if he felt Wisdom might become the next Poturalski, Colton, Purcell, McLaughlin he’s had.
“I’m just more focused on the fact that he’s impacting games,” Carlson said. “His speed, his physicality, he’s tough to play against. If all of those things continue, the production will as well, will be a byproduct of that.”
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