Zachary Vit ’14 certainly made an impact on the Geneseo hockey program. Vit became the fifth CCM Division II-III Men’s Ice Hockey First-Team All-American in Geneseo history after his senior season. Now, Vit is continuing his hockey career overseas with Les Bisons de Neuilly-sur-Marne of the French Ice Hockey Federation Division 1 just outside Paris. “It was something I was always aware of even before I had gotten to Geneseo,” Vit said in a FaceTime interview. “I didn’t know the details of how possible it would really be, but it was something I always had in the back of my mind.”
Playing professional hockey is an accomplishment in and of itself, but Vit has had some success in his rookie season—scoring seven goals in 24 games, or about .3 goals per game. As a point of reference, Vit’s former teammate and Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons has less than .25 goals per game this season in the National Hockey League. Still, Vit said that it has been a learning experience the whole way for him.
“It was a little tough to get adjusted at first,” he said. “The game is definitely different here … It’s a little more methodical in the way teams approach the game. I’ve done well, especially in the second half. But it’s definitely been cool to get used to.”
Vit is not the only foreigner on the team. Les Bisons’ team captain defender Maxime Dubuc is Canadian and has been living with Vit for the past several months. Living in a new place––let alone a new country––can be tough. Still, Vit is making the most of his unique experience.
“I had never been to Europe before in my life, so it’s been really cool to be over here and see some different things,” Vit said. “[Our captain] has been in France for four or five years, so he’s been able to help me out a lot getting adjusted.”
On the ice, Les Bisons managed to sneak into the postseason, finishing in eighth place in the standings. The team is matched up against the first-place Boxers de Bordeaux, a challenge that Vit is looking forward to.
“We definitely had high expectations coming into the year. We had a bit of a slow start, but we’ve had a really strong second half,” he said. “We play a really good team in Bordeaux. They have a huge arena with 4,000 fans, so it’s a really fun place to play.”
Despite Paris being a great city, Vit noted that he still misses things about Geneseo.
“It’s definitely a bit different—living in a small college town to being in a different country,” Vit said. “I definitely miss living with guys on the team; having roommates who are your best friends who you’ve been with for a few years. You just don’t have that same sort of thing here.”
Although he misses many things about life at Geneseo, Vit explained that he is looking forward to continuing his professional hockey career in Europe beyond this season.
“I’m definitely looking to come back to Europe next year to play,” he said. “There are leagues in every country, so I’m going to talk to my agent after the season and the coach here and see what my best option is.”
Vit and Les Bisons take on Bordeaux at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday March 7.