Milford’s Zach White leaves mark on hockey program

Photo by Russ McCreven/ Milford's Zach White finished his career with 83 goals and 95 assists.

Photo by Russ McCreven/ Milford’s Zach White finished his career with 83 goals and 95 assists.

With more than 200 career points, 203 to be exact, it would be easy to assume Zach White has been a natural goal scorer his entire life. That is why we don’t assume.

White, the prolific goal-scorer from the Milford Indians hockey team ended his high school career a few weeks back in a 5-4 loss to Amity in the Division II semifinals at Yale University’s Ingalls Rink.

The loss was disappointing to White and his teammates as the Indians felt they had enough talent to get to the finals.

“The team demonstrated one common goal all year.” White said. “It was always ‘Why not us?’ Ever since we were freshmen, we wanted to get there (Ingalls). We had not been there in a long time. We were proud to get to such a well-known arena like Ingalls. We just came up short.”

There were not many times in his high school career when White was on the short end of an individual or team result. White immediately made his presence felt as a freshman, but it was not from the forward position.

Milford coach Sal Follo was well aware of White’s ability. The only question was whether White would attend Foran or Notre Dame-Fairfield.

When White decided to attend Foran, Follo knew he was getting a pair of franchise players as Ben Lavallee also came on board the same year as White.

Once the school decision was made, Follo had an easy decision to make. He knew White’s ability would help the team and, as a freshman, White played defense under Follo.

“He played all four years for us,” Follo said. “His first year he was on defense, but he has been a forward ever since.

“He came with a high review. It was Notre Dame-Fairfield or us. Once he decided he was going to come to us, we knew he was going to be an important player. That year, we had really good freshmen coming in with Ben Lavallee as well. He (White) did everything you could ask of him. He played on the power play, penalty kill and even strength as a freshman.”

After a solid initial season, White stepped onto the scene as a forward one year later. He was not stopped in his final three years.

“He is my best friend,” Lavallee said of White. “I have known him since I was 5. It has been great seeing him do as well as he has done.

“We have played together since we were 6. We know where each other is going to be at all times. We trust each other. I think with Zach and Will Vitelli, we really played well together.”

When all was said and done, White finished his high school career with 203 points, including 83 goals and 95 assists.

White has a surprising take on his offensive skills.

“I was never really a scorer,” White said. “I did not start scoring a lot until high school. I was the utility guy. I switched back and forth from forward and defense. When I was younger, I was mainly defense. I liked it a lot more on defense. I liked to check and throw the body around.

“I started to score more when I played Bantams. I moved to forward. My freshman year, I had 33 points. Each year, I just tried to get better and better. I thought our line with Ben (Lavallee) and Will (Vitelli) worked great together.”

White, who started skating at the age of 2 in the Learn to Play in West Haven, moved to the Milford program three years later. White continued his progression when he went back to play Bantam hockey in West Haven.

It comes as no surprise he was well known throughout the state. While he was tough to stop on the offensive side, opposing coaches did their best to contain him.

West Haven coach Joe Morrell shadowed White in a game this season with one player, Matt Kelly, throughout the contest to attempt to shut him down. West Haven won the game and White scored late, but the formula to attempt to stop the Milford sniper was in place.

“I thought he was legit,” Morrell said. “He was the real deal. He saw the ice better than most kids. The sign of a great player is how great he makes the players around him. I thought he did that.

“Not only did we shadow him on his regular shifts, we were on a power play, up two goals and we shadowed him. I was concerned because there was more ice out there and more room for him to skate. That’s how much we respected him.”

Amity interim head coach Mike Richetelli had the same philosophy, but used a different technique as he knew White could hurt you in several different ways.

“He is definitely a game-changing type of player,” Richetelli said. “You always had to be aware when he was not on the ice. You knew he was coming and you had to make sure to be aware he was probably going to be out there pretty soon. As a coach, he really makes you pay attention. If you take a minute off, he is going to make you pay.

“We did not go to the length West Haven did where they had one kid on him all game. We went with whatever line we had on him, we needed them to keep him in check. We were hoping in this case to contain him more than control him.”
Whatever opponents tried on White this year did not always work to perfection. He finished with 56 points, including 35 goals and 21 assists.

“I like assists,” White said. “I just told my teammates, if they are going to put someone on me, they will always be open. I wanted them to know to look to me to pass to them.”

White was named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State team his sophomore, junior and senior campaigns, was an All-League selection following his junior and senior seasons and made the New Haven Register / GameTimeCT All-Area and All-State teams along with the Connecticut Post All-Star team.

White was the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Division II most valuable player this season.

“He always wanted to be better,” Follo said. “He was always looking to improve. He was never satisfied with what he did. He always worked that much harder.

“He made it so easy for me. The kids looked up to him. He worked hard in practice He was so competitive. He was always the first person on the ice and the last one off. He certainly left his mark on the program.”

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