Yet another example of big-play JaysJust minutes after Thursday’s game, Jamestown’s Brad Schaack sat alone on a bench outside his team’s locker room.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
Just minutes after Thursday’s game, Jamestown’s Brad Schaack sat alone on a bench outside his team’s locker room.
The coach, with his eyes peering down toward the ground in front of his feet, was soaking in the moment, while more than likely trying to find the right words to describe to media members what he just saw his girls do.
What they did do almost came as no surprise. The state has borne witness to the girls from Jamestown doing great things over the past couple of years.
So what if they’ve got to play the defending state champions in the first round of the state tournament? So what if that very same team had defeated them twice earlier in the season?
After winning back-to-back games to close out last year’s state tournament with a consolation championship trophy, it’s almost as if Schaack’s girls have grown accustomed to thriving under pressure and not wilting under the weight of it. It would have been far too easy for the team to just be glad it was back playing on the state’s biggest stage again this year, with winning being an afterthought.
It’s not like anyone would have blamed them. The other team was bigger, faster and had more skaters.
But that’s just not how the girls from Jamestown, under Schaack’s guidance, have been wired. They’ve been battle-tested by winning big-time games against “better” teams before. They know what that feels like, and it’s almost like they can’t wait for the next opportunity to feel it again.
The Blue Jays expect to win. No matter the opponent, no matter the place, no matter the odds.
Simply put the Blue Jays are fearless, and with an ample amount of heart, determination and an unwavering belief in their coach, the results have been nothing short of spectacular.
The team added another chapter to what has become the remarkable story of a program that is going to be remembered around Jamestown for a long time on Thursday. Jamestown defeated Fargo South/Davies for the first time in program history 4-2 in the opening round of the state tournament at Ralph Engelstad Olympic Arena in Grand Forks.
The team has set so many firsts recently it’s hard to keep count. It was the first time the team had won an opening-round state game, which not only gave the program its first 18-win season, but also sends them to play on the main rink at Ralph Engelstad Arena — where UND laces them up — for the very first time.
Coach Schaack had made it no secret that this weekend was probably going to be emotional, and while he sat on that bench, it was clear to see the moisture that had welled up in his eyes.
The emotions must range in all directions, from the happiness of witnessing his team on the cusp of their dreams, to the sadness of coaching his daughter Amber — who he’s coached since she was old enough to grip a hockey stick — for one last weekend.
Schaack and the Jays have compiled a win-loss record of 47-45-3 during their four-year run of state tournament appearances, dating back to when Schaack became head coach of the program. They picked up their first ever state-tourney victories en route to last year’s fifth-place finish, and with Thursday’s thrilling victory over the Bruins, they can now finish no worse than what would be a program-best fourth.
But one can only hope the magic continues for Jamestown during today’s semifinals against West Fargo. It’s certainly fitting that the state’s most inspirational hockey program over the past four years gets to close things out with a pair of games in one of the most well-known hockey arenas in the country.
That’s something those girls had to have been dreaming about for quite some time. They not only deserve it, they’ve earned it.
Win or lose, I’m quite certain the girls from Jamestown – all 12 of them – will yet again find a way to inspire us.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com