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Premier Attraction: Pittsburgh’s Zab sets bar with unique NCAA Division 1 commitment

By Joshua Boyd/, 05/01/19, 10:15PM EDT


Jacob Zab, earlier this week, became the first USPHL Premier player since 2017 to commit to an NCAA Division 1 school. The three-year goaltender with the Pittsburgh Vengeance earned a commitment with the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s D-1 team, and he will join the team and enroll at Nebraska-Omaha later this summer. 

With that commitment, the USPHL Premier is the only Tier-3 Junior League in the U.S. to see a player directly commit to an NCAA Division 1 institution in 2018-19. 

“They have three new goalies coming in, and he is one of those three. They had reached out to our goaltending coach Shane Clifford, and Shane presented to me early in the spring that they might look for him to come in and be part of the goaltending battle,” said Vengeance President, GM and Head Coach David Dorsey. “After that, we didn’t fully expect to hear anything, but a couple weeks ago, we got a call from their assistant coach who went through the process of asking what kind of kid he was - his work ethic, how he was off the ice - and last week, Jacob went on a visit and they were impressed.” 

Zab, a native of Mentor, Ohio, was unavailable immediately for comment as he was vacationing out of the country, but Dorsey said he was “ecstatic” when the two talked on the phone late last week. 

Zab originally joined the Vengeance in 2016. This year, his first in the USPHL, he went 6-4-0-3 in 14 appearances combining his regular season and playoff games. In the regular season, he posted a .917 save percentage. 

“He came in as the No. 3 guy three years ago. He pushed guys, while we pushed him, but he never upset the apple cart,” added Dorsey. “He was always a good teammate. Towards the end of the first year, we put him in some games and he did rather well. In his second year, he came back and was one of our go-to guys. He struggled a bit, putting too much pressure on himself, but acclimated himself and was excellent. 

“This year, he was excellent in a trio of three goalies I considered all No. 1 goalies,” Dorsey added. “He played a lot of high-level games for us. The best compliment to him was if you lost 7-1 or won 1-0, you could never tell from him. He was always calm and composed. No situation was ever too big for him, and I always admired that about him.” 

The USPHL congratulates Jacob Zab and his family for this historic commitment, and best of luck at Nebraska-Omaha!