From Cotton King to L.A. King, Zeiler Makes the Jump
LUBBOCK, TX: February 23, 2007 - In less than one season, a player has gone from scoring goals for the Central Hockey League's Lubbock Cotton Kings to scoring goals for the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings, as John Zeiler, playing in just his third game in the NHL, scored his first NHL goal Thursday night. The goal was scored 10-minutes into the opening period and it was tallied against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Zeiler, a 6'0" 207-pound native of Pittsburgh, PA, becomes the first player ever to advance to the NHL after appearing with the Lubbock Cotton Kings. Cotton Kings former Head Coach Chris Dashney went calling to his alma mater St. Lawrence University towards the end of last season, and he was able to recruit Zeiler to the Cotton Kings to begin his pro career. He joined the Cotton Kings for the final week of the regular season and made his pro and Cotton Kings debut on March 22nd at Wichita. The following night, he produced a two-goal game and claimed the game's top star after garnering the game winning goal in a Lubbock win over Oklahoma City. He completed the Cotton Kings season appearing in four games and combined for two goals and 16 penalty minutes. At the conclusion of the Cotton Kings season, Zeiler was called up to San Antonio of the AHL and appeared in eight games with the Phoenix Coyotes top affiliate. The Coyotes had drafted him in 2002, and invited him to rookie camps last summer, but eventually released him after the Coyotes failed to negotiate an entry-level contract with him. Los Angeles quickly acquired him for their prospects team during the summer, which led to Zeiler signing a one-year contract with the American Hockey League's Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles' top affiliate). Zeiler has appeared in 52 games with the Monarchs this season and has 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points and 68 penalty minutes. He signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings on February 17th and made his debut on the same date against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Former Cotton Kings enforcer Ryan Shmyr had previously been the individual that had made the largest advancement once playing for the Cotton Kings. Shmyr, who played with the Cotton Kings in 99/00 and 00/01, advanced up the ladder and was suiting up with the NHL's Calgary Flames during exhibition games, but never appeared on an active regular season roster.
The Cotton Kings are competing in their eighth season of professional hockey in the South Plains. Their next home game at the City Bank Coliseum is scheduled for tonight with a 7:05 face-off against the Oklahoma City Blazers. Individual ticket and corporate sponsorship information is available by contacting the Cotton Kings office at (806) 747-7825. Additional 'Kings info can be found online via their official site at www.cottonkings.com.
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