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Zoe Puc has continued to emerge on the ice as one of the elite hockey players nationally. The 15-year-old was recently selected to attend the 2021 USA Hockey Girls 16/17 National Player Development Camp from June 26 to July 2 at the Herb Brooks Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Puc, who participated in the district tryout process, is one of only eight players to represent the Southeast District. The camp features the top girls’ players in the United States and includes training and instruction as well as the opportunity to compete against other standout players from across the country. The camp sessions include mobility, stickhandling, mental skills, strength and conditioning and a nutrition seminar. They also hold meetings, practices, challenges and games. The camp will prepare rising players for an opportunity to reach the USA Hockey Under-18 Select Player Developmental camp and for stronger consideration toward a path to play for the USA Women’s National team, which competes in the Olympics and internationally.
“I am really honored to have the opportunity to showcase myself,” said Puc, a part-time Boynton Beach resident. “It’s a ‘wow’ moment and it’s crazy how far I have come. I am thankful to USA Hockey.”
Puc is the youngest of five girls in her family. Her parents, Mike and Tara, are both tennis professionals in Palm Beach County. Puc, who previously lived in Wellington, grew up playing with the Palm Beach Hawks travel hockey club. She played at a high level while competing on teams with all boys. She started with the Florida Alliance travel girls’ hockey program during the 2018-2019 season and led the squad to a third-place finish at nationals. She is one of the top leaders in goals scored, assists and points for the Florida Alliance 16U AAA travel hockey team, which finished eighth in the country this year.
“I have been training and really working hard,” Puc said. “I have really good coaches and we work on the hockey awareness side of the game and the mental part. I have learned over time that if we are losing and not having the best game to pick myself back up and not let distractions get in the way. I always fight for the puck and do not give up on the play.”
Puc has excelled with the Florida Alliance travel hockey program. In 2019, she was the only Florida girls’ hockey player to be invited to the prestigious STX 68 champ in Chicago. She also participated in the USA National Select training program in Rhode Island and the Beantown Classic in Boston, where she led all players in goals scored for the tournament.
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Puc trains twice each week at the Palm Beach Skate Zone in Lake Worth with coach Matt Key. She also trains once per week with skating coach Kerry Togneri.
“Zoe has great vision all over the ice and she is one of the the best skilled players at her age,” Key said. “She has a passion for the game and asks questions and is always looking to learn and improve. I have a blast working with her. She has earned the opportunity to participate in the camp and I am really proud of her.”
Puc, who previously attended Somerset Academy Canyons in Boynton Beach, is entering her sophomore year at St. George Academy in Middletown, Rhode Island and plays for the hockey team at the private boarding school. She did not have the opportunity to participate in games during her freshman year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Puc is looking to continue her development on the ice in Rhode Island and catch the attention of Division I colleges in the Northeast.
“I just need to continue to put in the work on and off the ice with my coaches and trainers,” Puc said. “The women’s hockey game has come a long away and definitely improved and I would really like to see it to continue grow more. The end goal is to play for the Olympic team. It would be an honor to represent our country.”
Puc is also planning on participating in tournament games with the Florida Alliance travel hockey program during school breaks and on select weekends. She credits coach Shawn Ray and the impact he has made on the program’s success. She also has learned from the example set by older players in the Florida Alliance travel hockey program, including Yale commit Jordan Ray.
“It’s been an amazing experience and I have so much fun with my teammates and coaches on the ice,” Puc said. “It’s fun traveling to tournaments and being in the hotels. The goal is to win a national championship with my teammates. I want for all of us to improve and continue to develop together.”