Zalewski on 'surreal' journey to professional women's hockey

Former New Hartford and Colgate standout, Annika Zalewski, is ready to begin a professional hockey career in the NWHL.

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 11:49 PM

New Hartford, N.Y - New Hartford native Annika Zalewski has seen her three older brothers climb into the ranks of professional hockey in different capacities, but now, it's her turn to break into the highest level of the game.

The former Spartans and Colgate Raiders standout signed a deal to play for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), announced June 14.

With the women's pro league starting up back in 2015, it's given Zalewski a chance she never dreamed she'd get.

"Growing up the goal was always college hockey, but beyond that there wasn't much opportunity," said Zalewski. "the last five or six years it's become more of a reality, and it's so great that these girls have the opportunity to continue playing."

Now that she's officially a part of the still growing league, she said she can't wait to get started this upcoming season.

"I'm really excited, I'm really looking forward to next season and continuing my playing career," she said. "Obviously returning to Buffalo is special too so the whole thing is really exciting."

Following her junior year at New Hartford High School, Zalewski went on to attend Nichols School, a preparatory school out in Buffalo where she played for the school's girls team, as well as, the Buffalo Bisons girls travel hockey team. It's made the thought of beginning her professional career in western New York a very promising one.

"I think [Buffalo] is a great place to start," she said. "I'm comfortable there and it's nice to have that familiarity, and be close to home. I love the area, I like Buffalo and I'm excited to be there."

After Nichols, sh then went on to attend Colgate University, where she captained the Raiders to the best season in program history, including a berth in the national championship game this past season.

For the Zalewski family, it's yet another sibling that is diving into the world of professional hockey. Annika is following in the footsteps of her three older brothers, all of whom have played at some level of the pros (including her brother, Mike, who spent two seasons with the Utica Comets).

"That part is awesome, they've kind of lead the way for me, they've been my role models every step of the way," she said. "It's really cool to kind of follow in their footsteps and take this next step that they took as well."

Potentially the most exciting part for her is being able to be involved in a league that is currently expanding, and growing the game of hockey for women and girls everywhere.

"To me that's one of the most special parts is being able to grow the game of hockey and to contribute to this league that's on the rise," she said. "I'm really excited for the opportunity to do that, and I'm just looking forward to seeing where this league goes, and seeing the progress that it makes."

With a family full of professional hockey players, right now, it's Annika's time to shine.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1686993

Reported Deaths: 48247
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens2172658903
Kings2169639239
Suffolk1658793120
Nassau1519702951
Bronx1482105943
Westchester1099512122
New York1068643974
Erie666041616
Richmond585451602
Monroe53274997
Rockland39546896
Orange38029730
Onondaga32733636
Dutchess22900413
Albany21180334
Oneida19896481
Niagara15508315
Broome15384339
Saratoga12190148
Schenectady11010178
Ulster10279231
Rensselaer9205132
Putnam853986
Chautauqua7425125
Chemung6480130
Oswego610689
Ontario589890
St. Lawrence568990
Steuben5581138
Cayuga542889
Jefferson489163
Sullivan486360
Herkimer4601107
Wayne452865
Cattaraugus448977
Genesee4473118
Madison389385
Clinton376127
Livingston359956
Tompkins350943
Columbia344396
Fulton342485
Montgomery3244107
Cortland323160
Allegany292481
Warren290755
Wyoming287949
Tioga285456
Greene270071
Chenango248770
Orleans247282
Otsego247043
Washington239754
Franklin216012
Lewis209630
Seneca164853
Delaware157333
Essex136326
Schoharie124313
Yates102326
Schuyler87212
Hamilton2852
Unassigned16099
Out of NY0194
Rome
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: 11°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 9°
Rome
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 8°
Feels Like: 11°
Rome
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 22° Lo: -2°
Feels Like: 11°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Foodie Fridays Rosa's 50% 0ff - Now thru March 18
Submit your Mutt Madness Picture through March 10th
March into Beautiful Skin Giveaway
Under 100 2021 Golf Cards left!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve