A Creighton-born athlete is, for the third time in his hockey career, an American college hockey champion.
Zach Garrett and the Univ. of Mary Marauders won their second straight American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II (ACHA II) championship on March 18, winning silver in a triple-overtime thriller.
Garrett, 27, grew up in Creighton and played in the Flin Flon minor hockey system before heading to Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in 2010. Garrett played two seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers before moving through the junior B ranks in Saskatchewan and starting his collegiate hockey career with Dakota College in Bottineau in 2016. After two years with that program and a junior college national title, Garrett moved from the two-year college to the Marauders, then to a new program in Bismarck, ND
When Garrett joined the team in 2018, it was in his first year playing and Garrett was named the team’s first captain. Last year, the team won its first national title, at home in North Dakota.
Fresh off of last year’s big win, Garrett-led UMary shed tears, finishing the season with a 38-5-2 record and winning each of its final 20 games. Since a pair of losses to local rivals Minot State in early December, the Marauders have been perfect the rest of the season.
In his sixth year of college hockey, Garrett led UMary’s offense, finishing the season with 51 points in 39 games. Garrett played last season as a graduate player and was able, like other ACHA and NCAA players, to extend his college career by one season due to COVID-19-related cancellations and postponements. .
In the national title tournament in St. Louis, UMary entered as the top seed and defeated Univ. of Wisconsin in an 8-0 first-round pool win, then beat the Indiana Hoosiers 4-1. A win over second seed Northeastern Univ. hit the Marauders ticket to advance.
This brought the Marauders to a final game against the Lindenwood University Lions – Garrett himself scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period in a 6-1 victory, bringing UMary and Garrett back to the game for the national title to defend last year’s championship. March 18 against Florida-Gulf Coast.
The Marauders would score first in the second period and despite a 2-1 loss in the second intermission, tie the game in the third to send the game into overtime. UMary and their Florida challengers would end up playing two full periods of bonus hockey before UMary’s Seth Cushing finished the game with a winner in triple overtime, giving UMary a second consecutive championship. Cushing, Garrett and his teammates rushed to a small contingent of fans who had made the trip to St. Louis and celebrated the victory – and Garrett, as team captain, was able to hoist the champions trophy in first.
“It was my last college game, and I don’t know if I wanted it to end,” Garrett said in a postgame interview with CAHA.
“I love the guys in the locker room…it was just awesome.”
Garrett also finished the tournament as the MVP, registering two goals and six assists in what would prove to be his college hockey swan song.
Garrett described his teammates at UMary, many of whom have played together since the program’s inception four seasons ago, as family when asked about the team.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve played a game, if you’re one of the guys who started it or if you’re a new recruit – we’re all family and that’s what we rely on,” a- he declared.