Without doubt the greatest scorer during the post-war years, of the first era of professional ice hockey, in Britain was Victor ‘Chick’ Zamick of the Nottingham Panthers.
Between 1947 and 1958, the 5’7”, 140lb centreman accumulated a staggering 1,423 points, in a period when the game was noted for low scoring games. This remarkable feat was recognised at the time as Zamick was voted onto nine consecutive end-of-season All-Star teams. A six-time A team selection, he added a seventh A-team and tenth in total All-Star selection in 1957-58.
Born August 16th, 1926 in Winnipeg Manitoba, Victor Zamick was one of twelve children of parents originally from the Ukraine. He apparently gained his nickname ‘Chick’ from Chicklet coated chewing gum with 12 sticks per packet.
He didn’t start to play organised hockey until he was fifteen years of age, when he joined the Sir John Franklin Midgets and progressed through the ranks for a trial with the professional Cleveland Barons in the American Hockey League. He though, did not consider himself good enough, and so chose to hone his skills in the Ontario Hockey Association playing, under future Chicago Blackhawks coach Rudy Pilous, with St Catherine Teepees.
He served a short spell in the Army and worked at various jobs, and virtually dropped out of hockey, to earn a living as a flyweight boxer during the immediate post-war period, before joining Boston Alouette and helping them win the Alberta Intermediate hockey title.
During the summer of 1947, Alex ‘Sandy’ Archer who grew up in Winnipeg, but who was then coach of the Nottingham Panthers, was back in town recruiting and Zamick went looking for him. He badgered Archer for a chance to earn £15 a week playing in England. Barely two days before the boat that brought him across the Atlantic sailed, Archer advised the then twenty-one year old, that due to a late withdrawal, Zamick was a Panther. He hardly had time to pack and arrived in the East Midlands with only £30 in the pocket of a suit borrowed from his brother.
‘Chick’ Zamick became an instant success on Lower Parliament Street, as he took the scoring title in his first season, courtesy of his deceptive body swerve, muscular frame and pinpoint accurate shooting. One of his contemporaries Clarence Rost observed in the ‘Players from the Golden Days’ book by Trevor Boyce, “His greatest asset was his marvellous shot, which was always very low. The goalies had little chance as he could shoot on the move at high speed and with a lightning quick release while stickhandling.”
Zamick went on to break record after record in an eleven year spell with the Panthers including registering his 100th goal in December 1948 and his 600th just under six years later. Along the way, the Panthers won two English National League championships in 1951 and 1954.
Zamick won the league points scoring crown on six occasions, with a high of 112 goals and 169 assists for all competitions in the 1954/55 season. Revered and respected by the fans in Nottingham, a broken arm sustained in a 1952 fall in the Ice Stadium caused some of those present to weep openly. Twice voted Nottingham’s Sportsman of the Year, in 1949 and 1951, Victor Zamick beat off stiff competition from national sporting figures from both cricket and football including legendary England and Notts County centre forward – Tommy Lawton.
He was appointed player-coach of the club for the 1955/56 season, and led the club to both the Autumn Cup and BNL titles that season. He continued in that role for a further two campaigns before accepting a three-year contract to do the same job with Servette Geneva in Switzerland.
Returning to Britain and Nottingham, he made four appearances with the newly formed Altrincham Aces during the 1961/62 season scoring 9 goals and 7 assists. Two years later, ‘Chick’ Zamick joined the revived Wembley Lions scoring 31 points in just 11 outings for the famous club. On his debut for the Lions in October 1963, he bagged a brace of goals in a 5-4 London Tournament victory over the Brighton Tigers.
After retiring from the game as the first player to reach one thousand points, Victor ‘Chick’ Zamick ran a number of business’s from a dry cleaners to a sauna and squash club, and became a much respected businessman in his adopted city of Nottingham.
His amazing statistical record from 1946-1958 reads: GP 624 Goals 778 Assists 645 Pts 1423 PIM 192
Victor ‘Chick’ Zamick passed away after a long illness aged 81, October 2007.
Compiled with research provided by Martin C.Harris – July 2000.
With assistance from ‘Players from the Golden Days’ by Trevor Boyce.
Footnote :In March 2000, when the Nottingham Panthers played the final game in the old Lower Parliament Street Ice Stadium, Victor ‘Chick’ Zamick was a guest of honour alongside fellow Hall of Famer Les Strongman.