Troy United eyes first OAA Red crown in program history

By: Timothy Pontzer, | Troy Times | Published February 7, 2017

TROY — The Troy United hockey team started the season on fire, winning its first six contests of the campaign while outscoring opponents by a 34-11 margin.

However, the club has since struggled to maintain that form, dropping four of its last five games at press time.

“We’re going through a little bit of a tough time right now; we’ll see if we can get out of it,” Troy coach Tim Zimmerman said of his team’s 11-5-1 overall record at press time. “The beginning of the year was a little easier, because we got all the right bounces and the puck luck was going our way. Now it’s the opposite, so we’ll see if we can battle out of it.”

 Troy United sophomore Quest Bigelow fires a shot during a Feb. 4 contest against Saline High at the Troy Sports Center. Troy fell 6-2 in the contest.

Troy United sophomore Quest Bigelow fires a shot during a Feb. 4 contest against Saline High at the Troy Sports Center. Troy fell 6-2 in the contest.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Zimmerman is confident in his squad, especially because he can call on a deep well of experience. Of the 23 skaters on his roster, 11 are seniors, with many boasting two to three seasons of experience.

“We’re an older team, which can help in a lot of ways,” Zimmerman said. “When almost half the team is a senior, you have a lot of experience. That helps us in preparation, practice, and ultimately when we go out and play.”

In his 10th year at the helm of the program, Zimmerman called it one of the most seasoned teams he’s ever coached. He specifically pointed to his top defensive pairing as a duo he leans on to lead.

Fellow seniors Noah Chimpaouras and Jake Young play together on the blue line, an area Zimmerman called the team’s biggest strength.

“We have some great defensemen, but Jake and Noah are our two best,” Zimmerman said. “That’s where our team really starts, in our zone. They do a great job of setting everything up.”

While Young is in his first year on varsity, he has played many years of top-level club hockey. Chimpaouras is in the midst of his third year on varsity, after being selected as team captain this season.

“It’s fun to play with Noah, because I always know where and what he is going to do on the ice,” Young said. “I don’t really have to think about it. We just go out there and do our thing, making sure we get the puck out. It’s our job to make sure it leads to breakouts for the offense.”

“I like setting up Jake; he is really good at putting the puck in the net,” Chimpaouras added. “Since we have both played club, we know how to run the pace and lead the team.”

Chimpaouras enjoys leading a veteran roster, stating that he doesn’t have to worry about seeing a learning curve or mistakes usually committed by a younger club.

“It’s really fun getting to play with a lot of kids my age,” Chimpaouras said. “It’s nice to play with kids you’ve grown up with and who really know the game.”

Troy hopes to be able to call on that experience, utilizing it for yet another division title run. With seven regular-season contests remaining, Chimpaouras is specifically looking at the three remaining Oakland Activities Association games.

The team has a chance to capture an OAA Red Division title, which would be the first in program history. The club won the White outright two seasons ago and shared it with Royal Oak High last season, earning a promotion to the OAA’s top tier. This is the first time Troy has ever competed in the Red, where it was 7-1-1 at press time.

“We’re focused on working hard to win out the games in our league,” Chimpaouras said. “We’ve proven ourselves in the White, and now we’re the top contenders in the Red. It would really mean a lot to everybody involved in this.”

The “United” moniker comes from the fact that three Troy Athens students are on the roster.

“Noah and I are both Troy guys, but (we) definitely all get along,” Young said. “We all have the same goals as one team.”

Troy United will travel to the Onyx Ice Arena on Feb. 10 to take on Rochester United in an OAA Red affair. The following day features another divisional clash as Troy hosts Rochester Hills Stoney Creek at the Troy Sports Center.