Connor Zary's dad, Scott, relishes seeing son achieve NHL dream with Flames

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You can imagine how exciting the past couple of months have been for Scott Zary.

His son, Connor, is living out his NHL dream with the Calgary Flames.

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There have been so many firsts.

There was his first NHL game, of course.

That was followed quickly by his first NHL goal, which Zary scored just six minutes into that dream debut on Nov. 1 against the Dallas Stars.

From there, Zary established himself as a night-in, night-out contributor for the Flames and found himself firmly entrenched on the team’s second line alongside Nazem Kadri and Martin Pospisil.

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When you watch your son work tirelessly for his entire life and then see him actually achieving his dream, well … that’s an amazing thing for a parent.

“I hate to say it, but it’s kind of emotional,” said Scott, who has been with the Saskatoon Police Service for two decades. “We’ve seen it all and we’ve been around him, whether it’s in Saskatoon, whether it’s in Kamloops or whether it’s in Calgary. He’s always exceeded everyone’s idea and thoughts of where he might play.

“Now, he’s here and he deserves it and has done everything right and hopefully he just keeps on going.”

Zary has shown no signs of slowing down since he broke in with the Flames. He’s scored nine goals and 12 assists in 32 games entering Saturday’s game against the host Vegas Golden Knights.

And his dad isn’t wrong about the 22-year-old exceeding expectations. There was certainly hope that Zary would be a great NHLer; that’s why the Flames selected the Kamloops Blazers product with their first-round pick, 24th overall, in the 2020 NHL Draft.

‘It’s awesome, it’s really cool’

But even as recently as training camp in September, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who was predicting that he’d break through in such an eye-catching way so quickly this season. He was averaging 0.66 points per game heading into Saturday’s action, the second-best rate among rookies who have played at least 20 games in the NHL this season.

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“It’s awesome, it’s really cool,” said Scott, who joined the Flames for their Dads Trip for games against the Arizona Coyotes and Golden Knights this week. “It’s a dream for me to watch him play hockey in the show.

“I never thought about this, that it would ever happen and it’s been great since Day 1. We’re all enjoying it. The family’s enjoying it, the cousins, the relatives, everywhere throughout Canada, really, we’re all watching hockey. There’s people who never watched hockey until Connor made it to the show, it’s been really good.”

This week, Scott got to watch his son up-close. He’s been to Flames games to watch Connor already this season, of course, including when he had to change plans to visit another son in Ottawa and they both flew to Calgary last minute to see Connor’s NHL debut.

But the Dads Trip is a unique opportunity to get to see his son’s life in the NHL up-close, while also getting to know Connor’s teammates and spend time with their dads, too.

And that’s obviously cool for Scott.

But Connor seemed to be just as excited to have his dad along for the ride as his dad was to be there.

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“I’ve been playing hockey away from home for seven years,” Connor said. “Obviously, he’s been to lots of games, but to have him around and see what happens on the road and be on the plane and in the hotel and come for the morning skate, come to the game, just kind of see what happens behind the scenes and everything and just to have him around and have everyone’s family around makes everything extra special.”

It’s a special trip coming in the midst of a special time for the Zary family.

They’re seeing a lifetime of work rewarded with an NHL opportunity.

And they’re seeing Connor make the most of the chance he’s been given.

“It is very emotional and it all goes back not only to us, but the billet family in Kamloops,” Scott said. “They were awesome and were just like mom and dad to him, so right from the get-go it was great, from minor hockey all the way through, it’s exciting.”

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