Select company: Stilwell chosen to play in Elite 1 LeagueThe top hockey players in Minnesota are a month away from Elite 1 League play, and so is Jake Stilwell. The Jamestown High School standout — who will be a senior — made the Great Plains team after a tryout July 14 in Minneapolis. The league allows high school standouts to play preseason hockey before the high school season kicks off in November.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The top hockey players in Minnesota are a month away from Elite 1 League play, and so is Jake Stilwell.
The Jamestown High School standout — who will be a senior — made the Great Plains team after a tryout July 14 in Minneapolis. The league allows high school standouts to play preseason hockey before the high school season kicks off in November.
“A lot of these kids are just one-sport athletes,” said Stilwell, who also plays baseball. “Every weekend, I’ll go and play hockey in Minnesota.”
Official games start in September, which means Stilwell will have to be in Minneapolis bright and early every Saturday morning to play some of the best the state has to offer. A small portion of the games will be played on the road in smaller Minnesota cities like Duluth, Moorhead and Grand Rapids.
Stilwell, a forward, said the league should help him improve in time for the high school season.
“It was created for that sole purpose,” he said. “Minnesota kids wanted to play hockey, so they’re at top performance when it comes time to represent the high school team.”
The league, which ends the first week of November, is chock-full of future college players including Roseau’s Cole Bjugson, who Stilwell said was “Division I.” With plenty of talent in the league, there’s bound to be college coaches watching, he said.
“It’s the best guys in Minnesota,” Stilwell said. “There are probably gonna be college coaches, and I guess that puts a certain amount of pressure on me. I don’t really think about that when I’m out there. I’m always trying to better myself to get to the next level. That’s what it’s all about.”
Stilwell will play “two or three” games every Saturday, and one or two more on Sunday.
“It’s always been a goal of mine with me not playing a fall sport,” Stilwell said, “so I can better myself against good competition.”
There are six other teams in the league along with Great Plains: North, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. There are 26 players to a roster, and Stilwell is one of five North Dakotans to make the squad. The others are Jordan Lunski and John Lizotte of Grand Forks Red River, Jade Miller of Grafton and Alec Rauhauser of Bismarck Century.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com