It was just a few weeks ago I met Zach Kraft at the SIJHL showcase in Spooner Wisconsin. Playing for the host team Wisconsin Wilderness, Kraft is one skilled and determined hockey player.
As a person I found him to be a great young man who had dreams and goals of continuing his hockey career at the NCAA level.
The other day I received a phone call from Wilderness Head Coach John McCreary, telling me that Kraft had taken a bad hit to the head in a game and went to the hospital.
Zach Kraft – a 1993 birthdate USHL Draft Pick, played all last season for the NAHL Aberdeen for the Wings (52GP 6G 8A 14pts)
Kraft played one more game after receiving the hit. Then after practice the next day he had some bad headaches. He went back to the hospital, got more testing and that’s when they found the abnormality. He was ambulance transported to the Duluth Hospital and that’s when they found the golf ball sized tumor. It was removed, tested and it and it came back malignant and Glioblastoma.
Just two years ago Zach Kraft become a hero on the north side of Fargo when he ended a 26 year state title drought for the hockey team scoring the game winning goal in double overtime against Grafton. To secure the Spartans first championship since 1986; that was the best of times for him.
“It was such tough news to hear. You spend every day with these kids and are around them all the time – you can never imagine it happening.” Said Coach McCreary “Zach was the hardest working player on and off the ice, and to see him displaying such a positive attitude through this, I have no doubt he’ll fight through this. He has the team and the whole Wilderness Community praying for him. He’s a leader and our captain….. nothing will change that.”
His team mates are rallying around him.
Assistant Captain Justin Gregory said; “It’s a situation nobody would wish upon their worst enemy – and it’s knocking on Krafty’s door. Even if he were to think he doesn’t have a big family, he has 21 brothers supporting him every step of the way. If there is anyone who can beat this, it’s Zack.”
Assistant Captain Sawyer Jacobson said; “It’s something that really took us by surprise. It’s amazing how a concussion can be the reason they found this – so in a way it’s a blessing in disguise. He’s one of the hardest workers I have ever met, and one hell of a fighter. He’s got a whole team behind him. Zach is the one player we all know can beat this.”
Goaltender Griffin Strain; “Krafty is a fighter. It’s a major shock to find out that something like this can happen to a teammate and a friend. However, having said that, Krafty is also one of the hardest working kids I know and I can 100% believe that he will find a way though this and find his way back to where he wants to be.”
Defenseman Josh Winter; “It’s hard to imagine what him and his family are going through. The hockey community is as tight knit as they come and we’re thinking about him and his family every step of the way. Zach wears his heart on his sleeve and will be cancer free in the near future because he will simply not allow anything else, that’s what kind of kid he is.”
The Kraft family is asking for donations to help with medical costs, you can go to http://www.gofundme.com/Zach-Kraft or to any Bell State Bank and donate in care of the Zach Kraft benefit fund.
TJHN is encouraging everyone to forward this story on Twitter and Facebook and any other social media.
The Wilderness will be donating all gate proceeds from their last regular season home game March 10th against the Minnesota Iron Rangers to help cover Zach’s medical expenses. We hope to see you there, and we hope you will give generously to help this incredible young man.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher