Top award yet to sink in for SchaackThere wasn’t an opposing team in the state of North Dakota that looked forward to facing Jamestown’s Amber Schaack over the past four years. Whether she was back near the blue line on defense or near the crease with the puck on her stick, the Blue Jay standout was always dangerous.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
There wasn’t an opposing team in the state of North Dakota that looked forward to facing Jamestown’s Amber Schaack over the past four years.
Whether she was back near the blue line on defense or near the crease with the puck on her stick, the Blue Jay standout was always dangerous.
Schaack’s impressive prep career was honored on Saturday at the conclusion of the state girls hockey tournament in Grand Forks. After leading the Blue Jays to a record 18-8 season and a program-best fourth-place state tournament finish, Schaack was awarded Senior Athlete of the Year.
“It’s a really great feeling ending my career like that,” said Amber, of picking up the award that is commonly referred to as Miss Hockey. “I really don’t have the words to describe it. It hasn’t set in yet.”
In a career that witnessed plenty of firsts for the Blue Jay girls hockey program, Schaack will also be remembered as the first Blue Jay to win the state’s top senior award. She played in 97 games for the Blue Jays, piling up 132 goals and 43 assists for 175 total points in her career.
She also shied away from the penalty box, picking up just 29 penalties for 66 minutes in four years. Her senior mark of 52 points was good enough for sixth overall in state this season, while her 41 goals was third best.
Both of those numbers were career bests for Schaack, who was listed as a defenseman this season, but she pointed out her senior season wouldn’t have been near as memorable if not for her teammates.
“They’re definitely my second family. I don’t know if you can get any closer to anyone else than my team right now,” Amber said. “It’ll be hard playing with a new team next year. I’ll definitely miss all of them.”
Schaack is heading to NCAA Division III Concordia next season. She won’t only be greeted with new teammates, but it’ll also mark the first time in her life where her father, Brad Schaack, won’t be her coach.
“What can I say about my daughter? She’s got another chapter in her life coming up playing for Concordia, but man what a team player she was,” Brad Schaack said. “She gave it her all, and she’s worked hard in this game to get where she’s at.
“She’s not only my daughter. She’s been fun to watch.”
Brad has decided that after four years of coaching the Blue Jays that it’s time to turn in the whistle. The coach compiled a career record of 47-47-3, culminating with a trip to the state semifinals this season.
But the top memory of it all, which Amber agreed with, came four years ago when the overlooked Blue Jays made the state tournament and nearly defeated powerhouse Fargo North in the opening round.
The Jays lost 3-2 in overtime and ended with an overall record of 7-13-1. Fargo North has won six state titles since 2004.
“It’s been a blast,” Brad Schaack said. “To start where we were, with a team that prior to the year I started had one win, and I think five wins in two years.
“That game, right there in that season, was just a huge stepping stone for the next few years,” Schaack continued. “To go from seven wins, to nine, to 13, to 18 wins, I never expected 18 wins this year.”
What makes that mark impressive is the team had just 12 players on the roster this season, with four of those players being eighth-graders and one more being a seventh-grader.
“I want to watch my kids play puck and be there for them,” Brad said of retiring from coaching. “Now if I’ve made the right decision? I don’t know.
“We’ll find out next year when I don’t go to the rink every day, because I truly love what I do. It’s surreal it’s come to an end.”
Schaack also has a son, Nick, who was a freshman forward on the Blue Jay boys hockey team this season.
Amber explained she’d be surprised if her dad will be able to stay away from coaching, at any level, for very long.
“It’ll be tough for him right away,” Amber said, “and it’ll be weird not seeing him on the bench anymore.”
But the 2012-13 Miss Hockey recipient certainly understands the decision.
“That’ll be nice having him (at Concordia) supporting me, and being able to see him after every game,” Amber said. “He’s always been there for me. I’d definitely not be where I am without him.”
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com