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.”

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