Well-rounded: Balanced Blue Jays open season tonightThe Jamestown High School boys hockey team’s three captains agree on one major point to this year’s team — there should be good balance. Between offense, defense and goaltending, seniors Jake Stilwell, Dakota Spitzer and Alex Williams said there isn’t a glaring weakness.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown High School boys hockey team’s three captains agree on one major point to this year’s team — there should be good balance.
Between offense, defense and goaltending, seniors Jake Stilwell, Dakota Spitzer and Alex Williams said there isn’t a glaring weakness.
“We don’t really have a weakness or a stick-out strength,” Stilwell said. “I really like our goaltending. We have two really good goaltenders out there battling for a spot right now. If I had to pick a strength, it’d probably be those two.”
Senior goalies Tygh Yatskis and Ben Walz are competing for the open spot in net. The Blue Jays host Grafton-Park River at 7:30 p.m. today at Wilson Arena in their season opener.
Yatskis logged the majority of time last year, earning his way to all-state status.
“Both goalies are very strong,” Williams said. “It’s gonna be awfully nice to have two strong goalies. It doesn’t matter which one is out there.”
Like Yatskis, Stilwell was also all-state, scoring 29 goals and 11 assists for a team-leading 40 points, which placed him 15th in the state. Eight of those 15 have graduated.
Stilwell played in an Elite 1 League made up primarily of Minnesota players in the fall for a total of five games before breaking his wrist. He continues to wear a brace on his left wrist, though it doesn’t seem to hinder him at practice.
“I’m really starting to feel a lot better,” Stilwell said. “I’m fine now.”
The Blue Jays are definitely a team of youth, graduating nine seniors off last year’s squad. Based on last year’s roster, Jamestown has eight seniors this year. However, the Jays will have to count on plenty of youth to make an impact in a competitive West Region.
“I think we’re gonna have three pretty strong lines,” Williams said. “I know we have quite a few young kids. I think, overall, we’re gonna be pretty strong.
“We’re pretty well-rounded on all of our aspects. When we get going here, I think we’ll be a pretty potent team.”
Spitzer said he envisions a trip to state for Jamestown.
“I can see ourselves in the top four, definitely,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make it to the state tournament.”
Stilwell said he felt Bismarck High and Bismarck Century could be the class of the West Region, but noted three through six is anybody’s guess.
“I’m not sure how everyone else is gonna be, but we could sneak up on some teams,” he said. “Win a couple of games we shouldn’t be winning; I think we can get up there in the standings.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com