Former Maverick forward Zach Jordan signed a one-year deal last week to return to the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jordan skated in 27 games with the Monsters last season and finished the year with four goals and two assists.
Before joining Cleveland last January, Jordan played 17 games in Europe with DVTK Jegesmedvek of the Slovakian League. He put up a 5-7-12 line and racked up 56 penalty minutes.
The six-foot-three right-shot forward is currently in Columbus and skating with the Blue Jackets at their training camp. He’ll head to Cleveland when their AHL camp opens up next week.
In 128 career games in Omaha, Jordan scored 38 goals and finished his Maverick career with 72 points. His best season came as a sophomore in 2017-18, as Jordan scored 16 goals and 28 points, both collegiate career-highs. The Collinsville, Ill., native was a member of the program from 2016-20, but his senior season was cut short due to COVID-19 in March of 2020.
The Gateway recently caught up with Jordan for a Q&A to talk about his offseason and preparation for the 2021-22 season, along with a little reflection on his time in Omaha.
Q: You’re heading back to Cleveland this season… What’s this offseason been like for you and how excited are you heading into this year?
A: This offseason has been pretty nice. I spent a lot of time at home in southern Illinois and in St. Louis training, but it worked out well. We didn’t have too many restrictions and I didn’t have to worry too much about all of that, so it was nice to get back to a normal summer. Took a couple small trips to a couple spots and really just tried to enjoy spending time with family and friends. I’m in Columbus now though and this is a big year for me, so I’m really excited to get going.
Q: How’d you feel last season went and what was the transition to the pro game like for you?
A: It was kind of a weird year last year with how long the season was getting pushed back here in the states, so I wanted to play and started in Europe in the Slovakian league. Overall, the situation was tough though. Being away from the family, the time difference was seven hours, everything was shut down over there and you’re just seeing a hockey rink or the inside of your apartment. I made the most of it though and made a few good buddies, so it all kind of worked out.
Once I got back to Cleveland though, it was a lot of fun. Playing in the NCHC helps a lot, but there’s still a little bit more that you’ve got to pick up and learn in the pro game. Plus our schedule was pretty sporadic with COVID cancelling a lot of stuff, so I’m looking forward to hopefully more of a normal schedule this year.
Q: You played 17 games overseas at the start of last season… How much of a culture shock was that experience?
A: It was definitely different. The town I played in was in Hungary and we played in the Slovakian League. Overall it was very different, but just walking around the town there aren’t many people that are six-foot-three and have blonde hair, so you’re sticking out. It was definitely interesting — I tried a lot of new food, learned a lot from the guys on my team and the culture, but it was a lot of fun.
Q: Did you get a chance to follow the Mavs much last season?
A: Yeah I did. I kept up with the boys especially during the Pod, which I thought looked like a really cool experience. It was really cool seeing how everything came together for them though and seeing them make the NCAA Tournament. Obviously wasn’t the result they wanted, but getting there is a big thing and I know they’re going to grow from it too.
Q: Last year’s seniors were all able to return for an extra year due to COVID-19… What are your thoughts on the extra eligibility and would you have returned for one more year if given the opportunity?
A: I think it’s great for guys, especially with how everything was different from the NHL on down last year. It gives those guys an extra year to showcase what their abilities are and hopefully they make the most of it. It wasn’t a normal year last season and there was a lot of opportunity lost, so I think it’s only fair. Having an extra year always helps. If you’re able to develop your game more it only helps you become more ready for that next level, so if I would’ve had that opportunity I would’ve probably taken it too.
Q: What’s the thing you miss the most about Omaha?
A: It’s pretty hard to top a Saturday night game at home. Going into a Saturday night game you always knew if you won it you were going to have a lot of fun celebrating and it was always so cool seeing that atmosphere. Especially if we needed to bounce back from a loss on Friday and make it an even series. Those Saturday night games in Baxter were always special.
Jordan is one of several former Mavs who have been busy recently. Here are the former Mavericks that will be skating in NHL or AHL training camps:
Josh Archibald- Edmonton (NHL)
Jake Guentzel- Pittsburgh (NHL)
Ryan Jones- Tampa Bay (NHL) *Invitee
Zach Jordan- Columbus (NHL) *Invitee
Jaycob Megna- San Jose (NHL)
Jayson Megna- Colorado (NHL)
Joel Messner- Providence (AHL)
Mason Morelli- Washington (NHL) *Invitee
Nick Seeler- Philadelphia (NHL)
Dean Stewart- Manitoba (AHL)
Anthony Stolarz- Anaheim (NHL)
Andrej Sustr- Tampa Bay (NHL)