Jacks kick off against EGF
The Bemidji High boys hockey team kicks off its 25-game season tonight, hosting East Grand Forks at 7:30 at BSU.
The preliminary JV game begins at 5:15.
Last year, the Jacks ended 14-12-1 winning their tournament opener over Baudette before bowing to Thief River Falls 6-1, a team it had divided two regular season games against.
That marked the first winning year since 2001, the first year of Chris Justice's coaching reign.
Wade Chiodo will be back to start his second year at the helm after several seasons guiding the JV .
He will again be aided by John Wangberg who served as head coach from 1996-2000, posting four winning campaigns.
Nate Weossner will be back to guide the B Team aided by Kraig Petrowske while Kevin Williamson will return after a one year absence to rejoin the varsity staff.
Graduation claimed five seniors last winter.
But 16 lettermen are back, eight of them seniors.
They include scoring leader Jesse Nemgar (14-29--43), Mike Rees (8-9--17), Rylee Curb (9-7--16). Joe Welle (1-13--14), Lucas Phillips (7-5--12), Kevin Larson (3-9--12), Matt Hietala (1-6--7) and Luke Burns (4-2--6).
They are joined by juniors Isaac Bitter, Will Bruestle, Cam Dahedl, Jeremiah Graves, Steve Heller, Matt Port and Max Hazelton and soph Brady Devescovi..
Of those, Hazelton had 21 points and Bitter 12. Graves started seven games in the net and should take over full time duties this year.
Replacements will move up from the B Team that ended 16-8-1 under Weossner last year outscoring its foes 80-48. Senior Axel Osborn was the most frequently used goalie
Top scorers include Heller, Jake White, Chris Isensee and Kaleb Hanson.
Five others have advanced from the Bantam A including Tyler Follis, Dillon Eichstadt, John Forseth, Jordan Heller and Tyler Tatro. Follis is a junior, the rest sophs.
The Jacks stopped East Side 3-2 in last year's debut with Nemgar, Phillips and Larson scoring the three goals. Derek Dudgeon stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced that night.
Chiodo will open tonight with Graves in goal and Welle, Bitter, Hietala, Larson, Dahedl and soph Tyler Tatro alternating on defense.
The lines match Nemgarwith Rees and Curt, Steve Heller and Burns flanking Phili0os, Hazelton centering Forseth and Devescovi and Follis between Jordan Heller and Bruestle.
The fourth line will likely also skate with the JV which also has four juniors, 12 sophs and a freshman.
The 39 were selected from 48 candidates who reported to practice, the first time in years the team has had to trim players.
The team hosts Monticello tomorrow at Nymore Gardens.
After a two year stay in Class A, the Jacks go back to AA this winter trading Warroad and Thief River for Roseau and Moorhead in tournament play.
A complete season preview will appear in Thursday's winter sports tab .