Loyalty is not a word that is taken lightly in the life of hockey coach Bill Zaniboni and his family. As one of pay-to-play hockey’s most successful head coaches, the Seahawks Hockey Club (Eastern Hockey League) head coach continues to pave the path for young and impressionable hockey prospects on the way to college hockey. But it’s his loyalty to USA Hockey developmental model and principles that has paved the way for his continued success. There is also not a coach in the game that puts in more work to help his players succeed than Zaniboni.
Zaniboni has been instrumental in the Seahawks success, both on and off the ice, since making the move to the EHL from Wisconsin.
Making the best of every opportunity has always been a Zaniboni strong point. As a high schooler 20 years ago, the netminder earned ESPN Athlete of the Year honors after going 18-1-1 (11 Shutouts, .950 SV%) and leading Catholic Memorial High School to a Mass Super 8 State Championship. That success led to opportunities in the United States Hockey League before finding a home with the Soo Indians of the North American Hockey League.
Zaniboni appeared in 77 NCAA Division I games with Northern Michigan University before a four-year professional career that included a 16-game stint in the International Hockey League.
As successful as the Zaniboni was between the pipes as a player, what he has been able to accomplish as a young coach is enjoyable to witness.
Zaniboni started coaching when he was sixteen years old for USA hockey satellite programs and really enjoyed himself knowing this could be a great way to pass on his knowledge to the up and coming players. While playing hockey he always coached in the summer programs and continued learning about the game.
After a season with the Bozeman Ice Dogs of the old American West Hockey League, he made a bold move to Wisconsin after accepting the job as Head Coach of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League’s Dells Ducks.
When the Ducks flew the coop to unsanctioned junior hockey, Zaniboni felt that he would be putting his coaching career with USA Hockey’s National program in serious jeopardy, and the Ducks’ decision made his own choice to leave that much easier.
The EHL’s 2018-19 Coach of the Year continues to focus his efforts on moving players up the developmental ladder to higher levels of play and beyond. In fact, Zaniboni moves an average of 16+ players a year to those higher levels. Regardless of the wins and losses, there is no other figure that means more to young hockey players and their families.
So, what is next for the Massachusetts born coach? Zaniboni graduated with a B.S degree in Business Marketing and has proven the ability to responsibly operate a team both on the ice and on the balance sheets.
It’s my opinion that Zaniboni is the perfect candidate for any North American Hockey League head coaching opportunity. His experience as an NAHL, NCAA Division I, and professional player, along with nine seasons as a head coach within USA Hockey’s junior structure, provides the perfect combination for any team.
Now only if his wife Kim will approve of such a venture.