Free and easy. Loose. Relaxed.
That's the way Nick Zwack plays, no matter the setting, no matter the situation.
"The pressure is not really there for him," Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake coach Eric Nelson said Wednesday after Zwack, a senior forward, scored twice to lead the unseeded Moose to a historic 3-2 victory over No. 2 seed Delano in the opening round of the Class 1A state tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
"This season he's been able to kind of let everything go. Which, if you watch good hockey players, that is their style of play."
The victory marked the first time in 10 years of seeding the state tournament that an unseeded team knocked off a No. 2.
"Yeah, for sure we knew we could do this," Zwack said.
Both teams were making their first state tournament appearances. Thanks in part to Zwack's calming demeanor, the Moose (22-6-1) appeared much more at ease playing on the state's biggest stage.
Zwack's killer scoring instinct was a factor, too, in upsetting Delano, (24-4-1) ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 1A and a big favorite to advance to a projected championship showdown with No. 1 Hermantown. Signed with Division I Xavier to play baseball, the 6-3, 196-pound Zwack put a rebound into an open net to open the scoring. Then he used his skate to control a bouncing pass and score on a shorthanded 2-on-1 to put the Moose up 3-1 late in the second period.