There are 24 years of experience between the six seniors on the Jamestown High School girls hockey team and it should be a huge weapon for the Blue Jays this season.
"These girls have been through it for all of their high school careers," JHS head coach Andy Fitzgerald said. "We are going to lean on our experience this year and, hopefully, we can mix in some of the newer faces to help us out as well."
Jamestown will begin practices on Monday and the team is scheduled to kick off the season on Dec. 12 hosting Williston.
"With everything going on we'll be excited just to get on the ice and start to compete," Fitzgerald said. "There's obviously a lot of distractions going on in the world today so hopefully we can use this as a way to get away from that."
Senior forward Ella Roaldson will be returning to the ice for the Jays after concluding her final season with the Blue Jay volleyball team. Roaldson led the Jays in points scored last season, posting a line of 19 goals and nine assists for 28 points -- 16th most in the state.
Roaldson has been with the Jays' varsity squad since her eighth-grade season.
"Ella has always been there for us," Fitzgerald said. "She's led our team in scoring for four of the years she's played so we will look for her offense."
Kaycee Johnson was tied for 50th in the state in scoring as a junior. Johnson put up 12 points while Lexi Leroux and Kendra Paiement compiled 10 more points for the Jays. Sydney Mittleider turned in three before her junior season ended.
Erika Anderson had two assists before the listed forward had to take on a whole new position halfway through the season when netminder Jada Nelson suffered a shoulder injury after 10 games. Anderson recorded an average save percentage of 84.5.
Fitzgerald said besides his six seniors, he is eager to see what sophomore defensemen Alexis Kirkeby and Bernadette Belzer will be able to do on the ice. The duo combined for 13 assists and 21 total points as freshmen. Due to the loss of blueliners Megan Albrecht and Ashlyn Schauer to graduation, Fitzgerald said the Jays' will have to find players to join Kirkeby and Belzer on the defensive side of the biscuit.
"Last year we ran four defensemen most of the year and two of those have graduated so we're going to look to improve upon our defense and have some younger girls step up there," Fitzgerald said. "They are excited to get out there and get going.
"They're happy that we're still able to have a season, but at the same time things can change so quickly you gotta be thankful for every day out on the ice and I think they are realizing that."
Hopefully, those days don't end before this season's state tournament currently scheduled for Feb. 25-27 in Grand Forks
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fitzgerald said he has been communicating with a number of fall sports coaches as far as practice and game procedures that have worked and others that have not.
Fitzgerald and the JHS activities association are looking for ways to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. Practices will be run similar to previous years and athletes are being given directives concerning face mask protocols.
The coach said the Jays aren't scheduled to cross into Minnesota this season to compete against familiar foe Crookston.
"We're finding more information out every day so things are always up for a change," Fitzgerald said. "There's successes and failures that we've seen from the fall sports with the COVID situation. Hopefully, we can learn from that and prevent some of the downtimes and negatives that have been happening."
The Blue Jays have not made a trip to the state tourney since 2013. A trip to the tournament is a high priority goal for the Blue Jays, but Fitzgerald acknowledged the high level of competition being put forth by the state this season.
"Every year you have your Fargo Davies', Fargo North/South and Bismarck in your top-three," Fitzgerald said. "After that, it is always a battle for those last two or three state tournament spots.
"Grand Forks and Minot are always competing, Mandan is going to be good again, Devils Lake has the best goalie in the state so they are always going to be tough to score on. It's going to be very competitive again this year and we hope to be up there competing."