JHS seniors bonded by hockey, striving to be their 'own' team

The Jamestown High School boys hockey team has 13 seniors on its roster this season. It's the largest senior class the sport has had in almost 20 years.

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Brooks Roaldson has been a key senior player for the Blue Jays.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — When asked how long the 13 seniors of the Jamestown High School boys hockey team had played together it incurred a 45-second discussion.

"Wait, how old am I? " Brooks Roaldson asked his teammates.

Then mentally doing the math, the senior captain answered.

"Like 14 years? 13 years? 14 years? I don't know, it's been a long time."

"Well it's only been five for (Aiden) Heinle," Landyn Kutz reminded everybody. "And (Jordan Johnson) too."


"It's been like 11 years for me," Easton Romsdal replied.

After hearing all of the differing opinions, Roaldson re-thought his answer:

"Well together, it's been seven years we've been playing together," Roaldson said.

"Yeah, but we played against each other so that counts," his teammates reminded him.

Roaldson revised his answer again:

"So, meet in the middle — nine years."

"No, 13," someone else shouted.

"Seven," another said definitely.


Finally, one of the Jays' senior wingers, Kellan Lange, came up with the final answer:

"Just say somewhere in between seven and 15 years," Lange said with a smile.

Everyone nodded their heads in agreement, satisfied with Lange's conclusive decision, exemplifying the fact that this season, the Jays are a united front.

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Senior Jordan Johnson is a forward for the Blue Jays.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

"Being one as a team and being with my best friends are really what make the sport for me," winger Jordan Johnson said. "Being with these guys makes up my day for six months out of the year and I love it."

Defenseman Jarrett Zalumskis reflected back on the old days when the love affair with hockey first began for him and some of the other longtime skaters.

"I remember Ashton's dad, Brett Stockert, helping us learn how to skate and some high school players helping out," Zalumskis said. "It's kind of crazy that we're the high schoolers now. I remember watching their games when we were little and I thought it was like the NHL. It's kind of weird to be in that position."

"Yeah, I thought high schoolers were a lot smarter back then," Reagan Sortland said with a shake of his head.

"I'd say about 85% of us are really smart — the other 15% — well, don't ask us to do your homework," Carson Dewald chimed in with a laugh.


Book smarts might not be all there for some of them, but when it comes to hockey knowledge — the Jays have got some of the best in the state.

This season's 13 seniors have helped to lead the Jays to a 7-5-2 West Region and 8-6-12 overall record so far this season. Results from the Jays' game against Century on Feb. 5 were not available when the Jamestown Sun went to press.

As of Feb. 4, the Jays are the No. 5 team in the West Region with 25 points. The Jays have three games — one at home and two on the road — left on their regular season schedule before the 2023 West Region Tournament kicks off on Feb. 16.

The Jays' last home game of the season is scheduled for Feb. 7 against Mandan at 7:30 p.m.

"Every team has their thing that they do and I think what we've put together through the years that we've all played together, it's come together to be our own thing and what we drive and strive to be," Johnson said.

The 13 seniors all had an up close and personal view of the Jays' success last season as a team. The 2022 Blue Jay squad — led by former Jays Nolan Nenow and Hunter Nelson — dominated the West Region scene and wound up earning Jamestown's first WDA Tournament Championship since 1995.

While the experience last season was "amazing" as Roaldson put it, it has ceased to be what is pushing the Jays on the ice this season.

"We just need to play our own game," Roaldson said. "I know we won the WDA championship last year but this year is a completely different team in a different scenario."


Roaldson is the Jays' leading scorer this season with 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 total points. Gavin Gerhardt, the starting center, has tallied 11 goals and eight assists for 17 points while Max Mehus has proven responsible for six goals and nine apples.

Roaldson is ranked 18th in the state in total scoring while Gerhardt is ranked 42nd and Mehus 68th.

"In the game of hockey, you can never work hard enough," Roaldson said.

Romsdal, Sortland, Zalumskis, Ashton Stockert and Johnson are also within the Jays' top 13 point-getters all with at least four points to their names.

In terms of goaltending, seniors Andrew Walz and Dewald have done their fair share to keep pucks out of the net. Walz has been tagged as the Jays starting goalie and has played 14.67 games. He is averaging 3.07 goals allowed per game for a save percentage of 89.7%, ranking him 25th out of 36 goalies.

Dewald has played a game and a third this season and has only allowed three goals for a save percentage of 90.6 to slot him as the 11th best in the state.

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Jamestown's Goalie Andrew Walz, keeps a close eye on an approaching Bismarck Legacy hockey player during a game on Nov. 29, 2022, at John L. Wilson Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

"Collectively I think we are playing a lot better hockey than we did (last year)," Johnson added. "I think we relied on a couple of players while this year we're all having to step up and make plays and put the puck in the back of the net.

"Hockey is a mentally draining sport and if you are not completely invested in the sport and your team, you are not going to see results," he said. "(Head coach) Matt (Stockert) has taught us to all take that next step and keep driving. He's not afraid to find someone else to fill your shoes. It's like a normal job, if you don't show up or start to lag behind, someone is going to be put in for you and that should motivate you to get back to where you were and keep going. Matt has taught us that."


Stockert doesn't just push his team mentally.

"I don't really understand how you can go from running around for 90 minutes straight soccer field to skating for one minute and you are tired," Ashton Stockert said.

"It's 100% every single shift so it's hard to prepare for," Zalumskis said.

After fall sports wrap up, the seniors and the younger Blue Jay hockey players are up at Wilson Arena for at least five hours a week utilizing the open ice time but that still doesn't fully prepare them for a practice with the 19-year head coach.

"Even halfway through the season I'll still throw up after a conditioning session," Sortland said with a shake of his head.

Even the gut-wrenching, energy-draining, leg-liquefying practices don't take away from the fun the Jays have out on the ice.

"I like the culture of the sport," Zalumskis said. "The sport is unique. It is its own thing. No one can just pick up and be good at hockey. We all have to put in the time — it's nice."

"Speaking for all the seniors here, watching them all grow up, the character that hockey has given them is pretty incredible," Dewald said.


With the end of the regular season drawing near, the Jays have turned their attention to the 2023 West Region and state tournaments. The WDA tourney is scheduled to be held Feb. 16-18 at Minot's MAYSA Arena. The top-four finishers out of the West Region tourney will then advance to the state tourney scheduled for Feb. 23-25 at Grand Forks' Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"As Coach Matt always says, we've got to, go, go go," Heinle said. "Time to start playing some good hockey."

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Jamestown's Jarrett Zalumskis controls the puck in front of the Blue Jays bench during a game at Wilson Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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