Love of the ice: Stilwell, Jays hope to go out with a bangMark Stilwell had to resort to idle threats to get his young son Jake off the ice. “We had to tell him when he was a kid that the Zamboni would hurt him,” he joked. “We had to tell him that it was comin’ to get him. As a dad with a lot of hockey in his background, that was kind of nice.”
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Mark Stilwell had to resort to idle threats to get his young son Jake off the ice.
“We had to tell him when he was a kid that the Zamboni would hurt him,” he joked. “We had to tell him that it was comin’ to get him. As a dad with a lot of hockey in his background, that was kind of nice.”
No doubt, Jake fell in love with it right away, and not much has changed.
The Jamestown High School senior still gets on the ice as much as he can, even in his free time when he’s not scoring goals for the Blue Jays. This past weekend, he even refereed youth games.
“I grew up on the ice. When I was young, I was always doing something with hockey,” said Jake, whose dad previously coached the high school team. “When I finally got to lace up and play, I didn’t want to get off of it. I liked it too much.”
Perhaps the most telling stat line of Jake’s love for the ice is time spent in the penalty box. In three years, he has only 22 penalties for 44 minutes.
“I just don’t like being in there,” Stilwell said of the box. “That’s two minutes I don’t get to play, and I like to play. It’s my fault if (the other team) scores. You have to keep a level head about it and not get into that chippy stuff.”
The dedication Jake has put in certainly shows up in the box scores. He has 74 career goals for the Blue Jays and 111 total points headed into Thursday’s West Region tournament in Minot, where fifth-seeded Jamestown meets No. 4 seed Bottineau-Rugby at 1:30 p.m.
Stilwell’s 27 goals this season are tied for second-best in the state. He has a career-best 47 points.
“Just from a hockey player standpoint, he’s got all of the skills down that you talk about,” Jamestown coach Matt Stockert said. “He just has a hockey sense out there — where to be when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick.”
Committing to hockey isn’t always an easy decision. There are plenty of busy weekends with long road trips — all part of a serious financial commitment nearly all hockey parents deal with on a regular basis.
“There’s a lot of sacrifice, but we’re not the only ones that do it,” said Mark Stilwell, who also coached Jake when he was playing youth hockey. “A lot of people make that choice for their kids, whether it’s sports or music. … There is a financial commitment, but I think my wife and I would do it again.”
Jake Stilwell earned his first varsity jersey as a sophomore after doing well in the bantam ranks. He finished third on the team in scoring that year as the Blue Jays advanced to the state tournament.
Now, getting back there is the only thing on the minds of Stilwell and his senior teammates.
“You play with these guys since you’re squirts, so you’re used to it and it’s still fun,” Stilwell said. “You get to play hockey together day in and day out. … We really want to go out with a little bit of a bang. Make some noise this weekend and see if we can do the same in two weeks.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org