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Meet the prospect who didn’t want a contract offer at Penguins development camp

Jonathan Bombulie
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Harvard's Lewis Zerter-Gossage tries to get off a shot against Minnesota-Duluth's Hunter Miska as Willie Raskob defends during game one of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship Semifinal at the United Center on April 6, 2017 in Chicago.

Twenty-four undrafted prospects attended the Penguins’ annual development camp this week.

The vast majority would have loved nothing more than to walk out of Cranberry with an NHL contract offer from the Penguins in their pocket.

Not winger Lewis Zerter-Gossage.

Oh, he’d like an NHL contract some day, no doubt, but now’s not the time for him to give up his NCAA eligibility.

Zerter-Gossage will be a senior at Harvard in the fall. He’s on track to receive a degree in economics, having already completed his core classes and needing only to clean up some electives to graduate.

Best to get that squared away first before embarking on a pro hockey career.

“I think it’s the type of thing that opens a lot of doors,” Zerter-Gossage said. “If you can have a Harvard degree and play a sport at the same time, it means you can really balance things.”

Know what else opens a lot of doors? Scoring hat tricks.

That’s what Zerter-Gossage did in the finals of the three-on-three tournament that wrapped up proceedings at development camp.

The four teams in the tournament were named after development camp alumni who have their names on the Stanley Cup. Zerter-Gossage and Team Murray beat Team Dumoulin 7-4 in the final game.

Penguins draft picks Justin Almeida and Clayton Phillips and tryouts Casey Dornbach and Jeff Malott also scored for Team Murray. Alex D’Orio, an undrafted prospect who earned a contract out of last year’s development camp, was the winning goalie.

Scoring goals in a three-on-three scrimmage isn’t the most important thing a young player can do to help his prospect profile, of course, but it can’t hurt. Especially when scoring goals is a big part of that prospect’s game, which is the case for Zerter-Gossage.

A 6-foot-2, 190-pound right wing, he’s got double digits in goals in each of the last two seasons at Harvard. Last year, he played on a line with budding Boston Bruins star Ryan Donato.

“His all-around character, personality, conditioning, he looks like a pro, acts like a pro,” director of player development Scott Young said. “He’s got the body. He’s 6-2. He’s got good hands. I think he’s a prototypical professional winger. He played with Ryan Donato all year. Maybe a bit overshadowed by Ryan Donato, because all the attention was on him, but he did a lot of the grunt work and he’s got good hands. His character is excellent.”

Young knows the Penguins have no chance to sign Zerter-Gossage coming out of camp due to his academic commitments. They’ll keep tabs on him next season and try to touch base again afterwards.

In the meantime, Zerter-Gossage has some electives to worry about. Easy stuff, he said, like Egyptian history.

“It’s still a heavy workload,” he said. “You can’t really escape that at that kind of school. There’s a lot of really smart people there and it’s really competitive. You’ve always got to try to keep up with them. That type of stuff gives you a certain discipline and I think that transfers to hockey. It’s something that has taught me a lot of valuable things.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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