When David Zimmerman first broke into the hockey coaching ranks more than 25 years ago by guiding Pee Wee teams in Minot and Grand Forks, his goal was simple. Help the team go far. In the end, however, hockey is sending the Devils Lake High School head coach far.
Real, real far.
Zimmerman was recently selected as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2013 World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships in Vantaa, Finland. The event is scheduled for March 30 through April 6 at the Tikkurila Valtti Areena in Vantaa, Finland.
“Anytime you get selected to represent your country in any kind of capacity, it's humbling and special,” said Zimmerman, who just completed his fifth season as the Firebirds’ head coach. “I am very happy to be selected to the coaching staff.”
With Team USA, Zimmerman will be coaching the team’s forwards while serving under coach Jeff Sauer. The former University of Wisconsin mentor led the Badgers to a pair of NCAA national championship during his tenure at the school.
A veteran instructor at a summer hockey camp for children in Chicago, Zimmerman is no stranger to the USA Deaf Hockey program. He previously served as an assistant coach in 2009, helping the U.S. team skate to a bronze medal in Winnipeg, and to a gold medal at the Salt Lake City games in 2007.
Getting to the 2013 world championships will be a feat in itself, Zimmerman said. He is scheduled to leave Devils Lake later this week. Initially, the team will travel by train to Albany, New York, on March 27. After practicing for a short time in Albany, the team will board a plane and travel to Vantaa.
Shortly after landing in Finland, the American squad will hit the ice again, facing Canada, defending world champion Finland and Russia in pool play. Team USA will begin its pool play schedule on March 30 with a contest against Canada.
On March 31, Zimmerman and the young U.S, squad will face Finland, and then end pool play on April 2 against Russia.
Following the completion of pool play, the top two teams in the 4-team pool will advance to the championship round. The bottom two teams will move into the bronze round.
Despite having one of the younger teams in the tournament, Zimmerman said he thinks the U.S. team can be competitive.
“We have a very young team. We only have five players with international playing experience, but I do feel we will do well in Vantaa,” he said.
The journey to Vantaa will highlight a long career in hockey for Zimmerman. One of five brothers that played hockey while growing up in Minot, he broke into the coaching ranks by taking over Pee Wee and Bantam youth programs.
Page 2 of 2 - Zimmerman became connected with the Devils Lake High School program more than a decade ago after responding to an ad in the newspaper seeking an assistant hockey coach.
Scott Privatsky, who at that time was serving as Devils Lake Activities Director and now serves as the school’s superintendant, decided to give him a shot. From there, Zimmerman spent two seasons assisting Don Korbl, and then spent six years under Al Henry.
In 2008, he assumed the head coaching duties when Henry decided to retire.
Zimmerman said Devils Lake area hockey fans wanting to know how Team USA does in the world championships can follow the team on the Internet at www.wdihc2013.com