Jimmies' Wale has experience starting two hockey programs

The Jimmies forward has 51 points in 35 career college hockey games.

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The Jimmies' Crystal Wale (89) plays the puck up the ice next to Minot State's Paige Ackerman (3) during the Jimmies' loss to the Beavers on Dec. 10, 2022, at John L. Wilson Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — When Dakota College at Bottineau started its women’s hockey program for the 2020-21 season Crystal Wale was on the team and when the University of Jamestown started its women’s program for the 2022-23 season, Wale was on the team. During her collegiate hockey career, Crystal Wale has been a part of two different school's inagural teams. Wale was part of Dakota College at Bottineau's first team in 2020 and the University of Jamestown's first team in 2022.

“It’s a huge responsibility I think for the entire team,” Wale said. “We’re setting the standard for all the generations after us, all the teams after we’re gone.”

When she transferred from the Lumberjacks to the Jimmies, Wale made the jump from the ACHA Division II level to the ACHA Division I level.

“Overall I think it’s a lot more competitive and I need to work a lot harder. … In Bottineau we didn’t have a lot of teams around us, we had NDSU (North Dakota State University) and ACC (Assiniboine Community College), which was in Brandon (Manitoba), those were the closest teams to us at the Division II level. We didn’t get to play ACC that much because of COVID and the borders. So, there wasn’t much competitiveness and teams to play.”

Wale said the challenge and the excitement of starting a new program were one of the reasons she decided to come to UJ.


Wale is one of five players on the Jimmies roster with college hockey experience prior to this season, which head coach Amber Schaack has helped the freshmen on the roster adjust to the college game.

“She moved seamlessly from Division II up to Division I, our first couple practices right away you could tell she could be a leader with her style of play,” Schaack said. “She’s fit right in at the D1 level and other coaches are noticing too, it’s not just us. So, it’s definitely helped a lot and helped our team’s confidence as well.”

As of Jan. 2, Wale is second on the team in points with 19 as she has nine goals and 10 assists. Wale is also the only player in program history to have two overtime winners — one against Maryville on Oct. 9 and another against Minnesota on Jan. 21. Wale said she can’t remember what she was thinking when she scored the two overtime winners because her mind goes blank in the moment.

“I just know that I have to do this,” Wale said. “When I’m on the ice I have to do something, I’m not just there to fiddle around with the puck. When I do get the puck on my stick I am very determined to put the puck in the back of the net, especially in overtime.”

Over the last two games, Wale has five points including goals in back-to-back games. She gives the credit for her success to her linemates, Bethany Wielgosh and Rylee Gee.

As both a Lumberjack and a Jimmie, Wale has served as an assistant captain. Schaack said her experience and her willingness to have fun at practice and keep the dressing room light has helped the team.

“The girls lean on her for that experience side of things and then her little skills that she’s picked up throughout this season,” Schaack said. “She’s got crazy good hands, pulls out these moves that you usually don’t see at this level. So, the girls are usually in awe when she pulls out some of that stuff. She keeps it light at practice too.”

This season, Wale has been on the Jimmies' top penalty-killing unit for most of the season as the Jimmies have a penalty-kill percentage of 27%, including giving up no goals on the kill in two of their last three games.


“I’m on the penalty kill with Bethany and Jaeda (Clayton) right now and me and Bethany are the flanks and Jaeda is at the top,” Wale said. “I feel like we all know our role on the penalty kill so it makes it so easy for us to kill it really quickly and get it down when we’re supposed to and when we need to.”

Earlier this season, Schaack said she took Wale off the top penalty-killing line but was forced to put her back on the unit. Schaack said after Wale played well as a penalty killer forcing Schaack to admit her error.

"I think it was a little bit of a reality check and she proved me wrong," Schaack said. "I told her that, I admit it, I was like, ‘Hey thank you for showing me you belong back on the pk (penalty kill).’ I think she’s probably got, I’m not exaggerating, at least 20 blocked shots the second half of the season on the pk (penalty kill). The kid is soaking up pucks.”

As the season goes along Wale said she needs to be more confident and trust herself more. She said her best skills are her hockey IQ and her ability to know what play to make. Wale said the team’s goals are to make it to the national tournament.

My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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