BY DAN STICKRADT
TROY — When Nathan Gurzell was a little kid, he used to make small hockey rinks on his floor of his house and turn small objects into pucks. Legs and broomsticks were turned into hockey stinks and coaches, chairs and shoes placed evenly apart were makeshift goals.
Like most small kids, Gurzell had an imagination.
“I used to do all types of things when I was a little kid,” smiled Gurzell. “I used to play sports in the house, make little games and play hockey on the floor.”
Gurzell eventually strapped on skates when he was in the early ages of elementary school. He slowly began to prosper. Always a goal scorer, Gurzell is finally starting to reap the benefits as a high school senior.
Today, Gurzell is one of the state’s top snipers. Give him the puck near the net and he’ll likely do some damage.
“I don’t think Nathan fully realizes how good he can be,” said Troy Athens coach Joe Barone. “He has come a long ways since he was a freshman. He has taken over as a leader and he has had a great senior season.”
With the postseason looming next week — Troy Athens is in Division 1 and will face Clinton Township Chippewa Valley Monday in the opening round — Gurzell is among the state leaders for goals, assists and total points.
According the Michigan High School Hockey Hub, Gurzell has recorded 40 goals and assisted on 28 others for 68 total points. He ranks fourth in the state in both goals and total points and in the top 25 statewide in assists.
Next season, Gurzell will attend Central Michigan University and hopes to play on the club team there in Mt. Pleasant.
“Right now, I am just trying to help us win hockey games and be a better team than we were (during) the last couple years,” said Gurzell, a fourth-year varsity veteran who has led Athens in scoring as both a junior and senior. “I think we are a much better team this season than last season, even though our record might not show it. We have some good young players.”
Gurzell was an All-OAA White Division player both last season and this season and also made the All-North Oakland Area Third Team as a junior. He hopes to garner some type of All-State recognition this season.
“That would be nice,” said Gurzell, who holds many of the school’s single-game, season and career scoring records since Troy and Troy Athens split into two programs seven years ago. “But I can’t focus on (the awards).I need to go out there and have fun and help our team win. You can’t worry about awards. I want to help us go as far as we can (in the state tournament).”
Gurzell has always had fun, whether it’s on the basement or living room floor or out on the actual ice. He’s having the time of his life playing high school hockey one last time.
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