Hard work pays off for Mankato's Jokinen

Check out a nice article on Minnesota State forward Justin Jokinen, who after two seasons of mediocre play and a press box view for the final 11 games last year, is having a much better start for the WCHA's Mavericks.

“I knew what (the MSU coaching staff) wanted from me,” he said. “I knew what I had to do over the summer to get there.”

Whatever he did appears to be working for him.

The junior forward not only has been in the lineup in all 14 games this season, but after his hat trick last Friday at Massachusetts-Lowell, he’s now leading the Mavericks with six goals. Already, Jokinen has hit career highs in goals and points, and he’s doubled his goal total from his first two seasons at MSU.

“He’s really started to find himself as a college hockey player,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “He’s getting more and more comfortable. ... He’s very strong on his skates, and he’s really starting to demand and command the puck.”

Jokinen, who turned 21 on Nov. 25, came to Minnesota State straight from high school, rather than playing junior hockey for a year or two like several of his teammates did. While that might be one factor in Jokinen’s delayed growth as a player, Jutting said that Jokinen’s offseason commitment has made the biggest difference.

“He definitely had his best summer,” Jutting said. “I think Jocks finally realized the difference between what he thought was hard work and what really was hard work. He’s in better shape, and he’s stronger.”

Previous
Next Post »

5 comments

Click here for comments
Anonymous
admin
Saturday, December 04, 2010 ×

Hey Kris, has Shiestel been outshining Brennan in Portland?

Reply
avatar
Kris Baker
admin
Saturday, December 04, 2010 ×

Yes, he has.

Schiestel has always had the pro skill set and you're starting to see consistent reliability compared to his final year in the O. For him to be near the top of the AHL in +/- shows that the harnessing his tools and being patient is paying off. He looks great with the puck and is getting quality shots through. He'd be my first call-up ahead of Gragnani right now.

Brennan is making some mistakes and hasn't looked nearly as good. Still some time to put those pieces together though.

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Saturday, December 04, 2010 ×

hey kris: only going by sabres in the ncaa, but it appears the chl is the way to pro hockey ? i was wandering how biega been doing. his +- has been impressive?

thks doug

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Monday, December 06, 2010 ×

Schiestel is the best D man in Portland and should be first call up. He is well underated and will be a fine addition to the Sabres blueline come next year.

Reply
avatar
Kris Baker
admin
Monday, December 06, 2010 ×

Doug -

Biega looks well adjusted. He's playing smart hockey and moving well. Coming in as a 22-year old helps, and staying back in a more of a classic defenseman's role last year as senior helped him get off to a good start. He'll probably stay somewhat reserved, but I'd expect him expect him to start carrying it more as he goes. Undersized dmen have to stand out a little more in the NHL, whether it be as an a PP specialist or an aware puck mover. I'm not sure what direction he goes, but he's doing well with the basic pro transition so far and looks like a solid depth player.

As far as the CHL vs NCAA, there's no question that the pro-like schedule and overall attention and franchise atmosphere of Canadian junior is the fast track, but it's not for everyone. There's still something to be said for the college route, from a hockey and human developmental standpoint, and it's still growing.

Generally guys coming out of college need to adjust (physically and mentally) to the travel/schedule, but playing against older NCAA competition and often being more physically mature help ease the overall transition. Look at Biega. He would have been way in over his head two years ago, IMO. He needed that fourth year to handle the strength of guys on the puck in the corners etc. or at least have the experience to be smart.

Overall the CHL wins out, but the NCAA will always have a developmental role for the benefit of both players and NHL teams.

Reply
avatar