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Zoltan Topalo - The formative Years

Zoltan Topalo (born April 20, 1969) is an American professional hockey player. Nicknamed “Handzus”, Topalo was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in Stoner, British Columbia, and played one year at Quinnipiac University. Topalo began his professional career in the Chinese Hockey Association and the Mexican minor leagues, before then entering the SMJHL draft.

Zoltan is the second of the three children of corrections officer and Dutch immigrant Claus Topalo and Holubec Holubec, a Tennessee native who worked as a waitress at the Port Huehuehue naval base, and played hockey in high school. In 1973, when Zoltan was four, his family moved to Stoner, using a loan from the Stoner’s Veterans Land Board to purchase a 10-acre plot in unincorporated British Columbia, about 100 miles north of Vancouver. The Topalo’s then lived off the land, with Holubec working low-end jobs and relying on the help of neighbors and Holubec’s brother, who was a Navy supply boat captain. During Zoltan's middle school years, he and his siblings were sent to a group home in Ball’s Falls, Ontario for three years.
Thanks to socialized healthcare and a climate hospitable to playing year round, Zoltan was able to stay healthy and excel as a youth star, winning gold at the U-18 World Cup before enrolling at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. Majoring in Finance, Zoltan quickly lost all his childhood savings and endorsement money day trading dogecoin.

During high school, Zoltan was convinced to take up hockey by the varsity hockey coach, who said the sport could give him a chance at a college scholarship. Zoltan could not get the grades to attend the University of Michigan, but went to Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut where the coach was the father of Zoltan's high school coach. He played one season with the Quinnipiac Bobcats, leading the National Junior College Athletic Association players in assists.
Producing at just under a point per game at QU, Zoltan was an offensive threat his entire career. Zoltan drives hard to the net and scores most of his goals from right outside the crease and always picks a top corner. Getting into the dirty area’s is his specialty, parking his big frame right in front of the goalie. His hand eye coordination is second to none. He is rumored to have grabbed a fly out of mid-air with his chopsticks at his local hibachi joint.

Convinced that he could play professionally, Zoltan dropped out of Quinnipiac in 1989, not knowing he had to officially apply for the SMJHL draft to get picked up. Zoltan's high school coach arranged for him to play a series of exhibition games with the semi-professional Guadalajara Ambassadors, and a game in China led Zoltan to get an offer to join the Jiangsu Nangang Dragons of the Chinese Hockey Association.

A self proclaimed two way forward, defense is just important to Zoltan as scoring goals. A strong backcheck is important to keeping the puck away from your own net.  Winning is everything to Zoltan, anything less is considered a failure. If you’re not first, you’re last you can hear him muttering under his breath.  A leader in the locker room, Zoltan always encourages his fellow teammates to play their best. You can hear him shouting words of encouragement during practice.

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