Star scorer overcomes diabetes, opposing goalies to lead Nationals

Zach Power is the hottest scorer in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, averaging three points a game.
But the more important numbers are those that show up on his latest blood sugar results. The London Nationals star forward was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 11 months ago while skating with the Central Canada Hockey League’s Navan Grads.“My dad has it, but I never thought it would be me,” the 20-year-old from Glencoe said. “My mom kept telling me to get tested and when I started having some bad symptoms, I finally did to put her at ease.”

Power soon became as adept as using a needle and tester as he was at finding holes in goaltenders and throwing saucer passes to teammates.

“The transition wasn’t too bad,” he said. “My dad didn’t really talk too much about diabetes, but I got a good grasp on it from watching him over the years. One of my best buddies (current Owen Sound Attack captain) Mark Woolley has it, too, and when I got diagnosed, he and my dad helped me a lot.”

Now, he is trying to help the Nats (4-1) maintain their half-decade grip on the Western Conference in the Junior B ranks. He has posted six goals and 12 points in four games ahead of a clash with his old Chatham teammates Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Western Fair.Back in 2019-20, he scored 20 goals and 50 points in his second year with the Maroons. He signed with Navan last year, took a month and a half off to deal with his health issues and returned to Ottawa for a week. Then, the season officially was cancelled because of COVID-19.

The Nationals acquired his rights before this season.

“He has a mindset where he wants to be the best player in the league,” London coach Colin Martin said. “He’s a leader by example. He’s making every shift count, which in my opinion, every 20-year-old should be doing in their last year of junior.”

Power missed the season opener in St. Thomas because of pandemic protocols. He received his first vaccine the day after the GOJHL made it mandatory, but wasn’t able to hit the league’s new two-week threshold after the second shot in time for puck drop.He was declared eligible on the day of the Nats’ home opener and scored a hat trick with four points in a comeback victory over Komoka.

“I told Colin this is my last year of junior and I’m all in,” Power said. “There are a bunch of 20-year-olds on this team and we all want to win. That’s the atmosphere here, that’s the goal and the scoring just comes along with it.”

Even with the missed opener, he is second in GOJHL scoring behind Listowel’s Jaden Goldie, who has played in three more games to date. Power and London captain Jeff Burridge already have become a trusted offensive combo with 100-point potential.

Former Nationals star Cal Davis reached the century mark in 50 games two years ago.“Jeff and I joke and make bets to see if we can get to 100 points,” Power said with a laugh. “It’s a pretty hard number to maintain. Cal did it, he was an unreal player on a great team. It would be cool, but we’re just trying to win and get out of this conference.”

SIMMONS LEAVES: Tim Simmons, who started with London in 1998 and has been part of the management team for the past decade, has stepped down from his GM and director of hockey operations position. The Nats mainstay, who was appointed GM before this season, has accepted a senior role at the GOJHL head office.