Ready to work: Expectations high for Blue Jay boys hockey
Matt Stockert's 15th year as Jamestown High School boys hockey head coach could be a great one.
"We've only got four seniors this year, so basically we've got everybody back," Stockert said of his 2019-20 roster. "A lot of kids saw time last year so expectations are high. I don't think there's any question about that."
The Blue Jays will have to wait a little longer to open their season. Saturday's season-opener hosting Mandan at Wilson Arena has been rescheduled to Dec. 28 due to this weekend's forecasted snowfall. JHS will now be scheduled to open the season next Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Devils Lake.
"Our formula is really pretty simple," Stockert said. "In order to be successful in the state of North Dakota as far as hockey goes, we've got to work. If we don't work it's going to be a long season.
"We've got a bunch of workers here which is good."
The Jays finished fourth in the West Region at 7-6-1 last winter and skated off the ice at 8-14-1 overall. Stockert said his experienced roster is working hard in all three positions.
"Key returners, you've got to start where it counts," Stockert said. "Riley Gerhardt is in the net. He saw the majority of the time last year as a junior and he stopped a lot of pucks for us last year. We expect the same thing (this year).
"If his game is a little slowed from not being on the ice here right away, we've got Brode (Hillstrom) ready to go. That's a huge advantage we feel that we have. We've got two goaltenders who can play and we'll just have to see where that ends up."
Gerhardt, a Valley City senior, allowed 86 goals on 998 total shots on net averaging 3.61 saves per game. The senior put up a save percentage of 91.4%, while Hillstrom, a sophomore, posted 73 saves on 83 shots.
Defensively, Stockert is returning junior Gavin Haut and sophomore Braxton Jorissen to help lead the way. Haut totaled three assists in 2018-19, while Jorissen dished out an assist and scored a goal.
"They saw a lot of minutes last year for us," Stockert said. "Hopefully, that bodes well for their future."
With experience between the pipes and on defense, the Jays are prepared to stop an oncoming offense, and it's yet to be seen if the competition is ready for the Jays' three leading scorers.
"Offensively, on the forward side of the puck, you'll be looking at Tommy (Falk) and Corey (Nelson) and Jace (Thompson)," Stockert said. "It wasn't a secret, in order to beat Jamestown last year you had to stop that line."
Thompson topped the Jays' scoring chart last season at 39 points, while Falk put up 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points. Nelson put 12 biscuits in the net and tallied 17 assists. The trio accounted for 99 of the teams' 135 total points. Sophomore forward Joe Cummings put up nine points during his freshman campaign, while Alex Stockert totaled seven points.
They've got the pads on and are ready to make a run in the WDA.
"We've got some kids who had some experience last year and are a year older, more mature and not only that, we've got some young kids who want to get after it and go," Stockert said. "I think it's a good sign for the year to come."