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Maple Leafs’ Zach Aston-Reese Was Once a Big Scorer: Believe It!

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zach Aston-Reese doesn’t score much now, but he was once a big scorer: Believe It!

Today Zach Aston-Reese is a highly-successful fourth-line forward who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League (NHL). He’s known for his strong defensive skills and his physicality.

Aston-Reese’s NHL resume is that he is primarily a bottom-six forward who has often been used in a checking role. In that role, he’s tenacious. He uses his size and physical strength to disrupt opposing teams’ offensive game. He’s also a smart player who has developed a good understanding of defensive positioning and is willing to block shots and battle along the boards.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kampf, Aston-Reese & Lafferty

This Season Aston-Reese Set a Career-Best with 10 Goals

This season, he’s set a career-best with 10 goals. And really, that’s not a ton of scoring. But, he comes by that scoring honestly. He gets in front of the net, disrupting and banging. When he does score it’s often a blue-collar goal that comes because he just refuses to be out-dug. 

But, mostly, Aston-Reese is focused on his defensive game. If you didn’t know much about him, you’d just sort of get the impression that Aston-Reese is a mucker. He’s a hard-working, blue-collar player who isn’t much for the offensive side of the game.

But, it wasn’t always that way. Aston-Reese was once one of the highest scorers in NCAA history. In this post, I’ll review some of his scoring plights and some of the ways he led his team. 

Speaking for myself, I found his offensive abilities surprising. Perhaps you will, too.

How Good Was Zach Aston-Reese at Northeastern University?

If you have the inclination, take a look at the Northeastern University Huskies’ website. The link is here.

Zach Aston-Reese had an outstanding career with Northeastern University, earning numerous awards and setting school records. Here are 10 key (impressive) things to know about his university career:

  1. In 2016-17, Aston-Reese was tied for the nation’s (the United States) lead with 63 points (31 goals, 32 assists). It was the most points for a Husky in a single season since Jay Heinbuck in 1985-86.
  2. Aston-Reese was tied for or was the nation’s leader in total goals (31), goals per game (0.82), points per game (1.66), multi-goal games (eight), and hat tricks (three) during the 2016-17 season.
  3. He was named a Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist, Hockey East Player of the Year, Hockey East First Team All-Star, and won the Phil Hines Award for New England’s Most Improved Player, among other honors, in 2017.
  4. Aston-Reese became the first player in Northeastern program history to record hat tricks in consecutive games at Michigan State and against Clarkson in 2016.
  5. He tied the school record for shorthanded goals in a season with four during the 2016-17 campaign.
  6. Aston-Reese was the first player since 1985-86 to record 30 goals and 30 assists in the same season. He was only one of nine Huskies in team history to score 30 goals in a season.
  7. He finished his career ranked 12th in career points (148) and goals (66) at Northeastern and 18th all-time in career assists (82).
  8. Aston-Reese was tied for sixth all-time at Northeastern in single-season points (63), tied for seventh in single-season goals (31), and tied for 13th in single-season assists (32).
  9. He had a career-high four points (two goals, two assists) against Bentley and tied a career-high with four points (one goal, three assists) at No. 19 Providence during the 2016-17 season.
  10. Aston-Reese played in all 41 games during the 2015-16 season, leading the team with 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) and recording the most assists for a Husky since 2004-05.

Related: Four Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 2-1 OT Loss to Bruins

Who Would Have Thought – Right?

As I noted, I think of ZAR as a bit of a mucker – certainly, a defensive-first player. He’s a banger who often leads any team he plays on in hits.

But it wasn’t always so. At one time, seven seasons ago, Aston-Reese was one of the leading scorers in all the United States in collegiate hockey.

Is it possible next season that he might actually become a 20-goal scorer? He might just be an offensive surprise in the making.




  1. Chris

    April 7, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    But did you know that he majored in graphic design at Northeastern? And did a little designing for the Penguins.

  2. Pingback: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: O'Reilly's Pressure & 1st Round Prep

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