Jays crowned consolation champs, Nelson, Stockert honored
The Jamestown High School boys hockey team faced Mandan on Feb. 26 in the state fifth-place match.
With only one day left in his prep hockey career, Hunter Nelson decided he was going to go out guns ablazing.
Or more accurately — stick and skates ablazing.
Nelson's pair of goals in state tournament consolation finals against Mandan clinched the Blue Jays the fifth-place title. Jamestown topped the Braves 4-2.
Nelson and the rest of the Blue Jay squad defeated the Braves all four times they met this season outscoring them 19-3.
"He came to play man," JHS head coach Matt Stockert said of Nelson. "That's what you expect out of your leader. His leadership showed his true blue and white colors this weekend that's for sure."
Nelson is the Jays' second-leading scorer with 27 goals and 23 assists for 50 total points. The senior's contributions helped the Jays' to a program record for the most wins in a single season with 22. All told, the WDA Tournament Champions went 22-5 on the year en route to its second fifth-place title in three years.
"He leads by example," Stockert said of Nelson. "He's a go-getter, a hard worker and all that good stuff, but the keyword I am going to use for him is sheer leadership.
"He's a true leader and when you have kids like that it rubs off on the underclassmen and his fellow senior teammates."
Following the Blue Jays' fourth win over the Braves, Nelson was announced as the state's Senior Player of the Year in the sport of boys hockey. Nelson was named the co-WDA Senior Athlete of the Year at last weekend's West Regional Tournament.
Stockert was named the NDHSCA Subway Coach of the Year.
The game-winning goal scored by Nelson was off a perfect pass from Tyson Jorissen who feathered the puck out to the senior who slid it past Mandan goalkeeper Bennett Leingang to make it 4-1 Blue Jays.
Mandan did what they could to keep pace with the red-hot Blue Jays but with six minutes left in the game, the eventual sixth-place team could only manage one scored by Carter Kilen at the 14:45 mark of the final period.
While Jamestown pulled it out, the Jays were under no delusions that the game would be a walk in the park.
The Jamestown boys were playing hard outshooting the Braves 17-5 but Mandan came up with 17 faceoffs won compared to the Jays' seven.
While Mandan had two fewer scoring chances than the Jays in the first period, the Braves were able to capitalize on one of their seven chances to make it 1-0 early in the first. Tukker Horner was credited with the early score. The junior went 1-on-1 with Hillstrom and simply beat the big man to the gap.
"It's kind of funny how the game of hockey works sometimes," Stockert said. "You outwork, outshoot, outplay a team in a period of hockey and you skate off the ice and you are down 1-0.
"Their goalie played great and one puck slips out in front and no one is there to cover it in front of Brode and it's pretty easy to tap it in for a 1-0 lead."
A double-minor assessed to the Braves at the end of the first, gave the Jays a prime opportunity to knot things up on the scoreboard. Hunter Nelson was the first to strike on the powerplay, drilling the biscuit past Bennett Leingang in the opening two minutes of the middle frame.
"Getting on the powerplay is always a bonus," Stockert said. "We just put the pressure on the guys and moved the puck around well and found the back of the net when we got the opportunity."
Brooks Roaldson felt the momentum and rolled with it, backhanding in his third goal of the tourney off a pair of assists from Nolan Nenow and Joe Cummings, seconds after the second minor expired to go up 2-1.
The No. 1 seeded Blue Jays once again outshot the fourth-seeded Braves 14-3 in the second. The penalty kill was once again more than effective for the Jays as they rode out the Mandan powerplays to end the second up 3-1.
Nenow got in on the action with 12 minutes left in the final period, weaving through traffic to find just enough of a seam to send it in over Leingang's shoulder from 20 feet out. The goal was Nenow's second of the tournament.
"They continued to get after it," Stockert said of his team. "They put pressure on Mandan and that's what we do best. We made it really difficult for them to get pucks in the net thereafter and we took advantage of our real good opportunites.
"We wanted it and were certainly deserving of (fifth-place) as far as I am concerned. We came away with a victory on the last day of the hockey season — you can't ask for anything better than that."
Jamestown 4, Mandan 2
JHS 0 2 2 — 4
MAN 1 0 1 — 2
First period: 1. MAN, Tukker Horner (Tate Olson, Trinity Anderson) 3:21
Second period: 2. JHS, Hunter Nelson (Conner McLachlan), 1:37; 3. JHS, Brooks Roaldson (Nolan Nenow, Joe Cummings), 3:02.
Third period: 4. JHS, Nolan Nenow(unassisted), 5:05; 5. JHS, Nelson (Tyson Jorissen), 11:00; 5. MAN, Carter Kilen (Brady Helbling) 14:45;
Goalie saves: Mandan, Bennett Leingang, 17-12-10—39; Jamestown, Brode Hillstrom, 4-3-7—14.
Penalties: Mandan 6 for 12 minutes; Jamestown 5 for 10 minutes.