With 10 players returning to the Dells Ducks this season, coach Bill Zaniboni had no doubt who he wanted leading his Minnesota Junior Hockey League team: defenseman Jacob Stima.
“We talked to Jacob over the summer and named him captain in our first training camp in July,” Zaniboni said.
The Ducks have gotten the results Zaniboni was seeking.
With Stima leading the way — he is tied for third in the division in scoring despite playing defense — Dells has clinched the Minnesota League Minnesota Division title.
Stima has piled up 22 goals — seven on the power play and five game-winners — while adding 38 assists in 38 games. He left the team long enough to play two Tier II junior games with the North American Hockey League’s Janesville Jets in September, but moved right back into his leadership role upon his return.
“He’s had no remorse for coming back and leading this team,” Zaniboni said. “He’s a special teams guy.
“He’s a game-changer.”
Stima would like to help the Ducks change their postseason results.
“We have 10 guys back from last year when we were a goal away from going to nationals,” said the 20-year-old from Roscoe, Ill. who also served as a captain in his youth and high school days. “We still have that bitter taste in our mouths. We all know what it feels like and don’t want it to happen again.
“We want to make nationals and represent ourselves well at nationals.”
Stima is helping the Ducks surge toward the finish with seven goals and 14 assists in an 11-game winning streak. That includes three goals and four assists in a 9-3 win over the Rochester Ice Hawks on Feb. 8.
After clinching the division title with Friday’s 6-2 victory over the Hudson Crusaders, the Ducks proved they were not ready to slow down when Stima had three assists in Saturday’s 6-0 win over the Crusaders.
“I think the biggest thing for our success this year is our veteran leadership from our four captains,” Zaniboni said. “They’re all veterans from last year. They’ve been to the finals and they had it taken away from them.
“It fuels the belly a little bit and, for most of these guys, this is their last year.”
Layne Martin, Joey Bower and Collin Cross serve as the alternate captains.
Martin, 20, from Findlay, Ohio, leads the division in assists (45) and points (64). He played seven games with the Soo Eagles during the first half of the 2012-13 NAHL season.
“He came down with one of the most humble attitudes you find out of a Tier II guy coming to Tier III,” said Zaniboni, who praised Martin for being an outstanding student who works long hours at night to pay for his junior hockey and try to open up a college opportunity.
Bower, a 20-year-old from Crystal Lake, Ill., has committed to St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. He has shown big improvement in consistency from last year, producing 20 goals and 28 assists in 43 games.
While Zaniboni discussed his team, which is 36-5-0-2 with a league-low 101 goals allowed, Bower was on the ice helping coach youth hockey players.
Cross is the youngest of the captains. The 19-year-old from Simsbury, Conn. has committed to play Division III hockey at Framingham State in Massachusetts. He has seven points in 33 games.
“He’s one of the most intense individuals I’ve ever met,” Zaniboni said. “He’s a workhorse on and off the ice.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Starting with the upcoming season, USA Hockey is launching a new online curriculum in our Officiating Education Program. In addition to the standard registration requirements, including application, open and closed book testing and attendance at a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar, every official must complete the online material prior to receiving their card and crest for 2014-15.
The online curriculum is designed to enhance educational experience with accurate and consistent officiating information. The online modules will be broken down into three categories. The first two requirements will include general and level-specific presentations. The third category will have elective courses from a variety of topics such as positioning, procedures, penalty criteria and the mental game. These electives will be level-specific and allow you to hone your officiating skills in areas you select.
The length of each presentation will vary depending on content and focus. The majority of the presentations will fall in the 5- to 10-minute range, followed by a short quiz reviewing the content. The entire online curriculum will take 3-5 hours to complete, depending on the level of the official. The in-person seminar each official will be required to attend will be abbreviated and designed to supplement the material presented in the online curriculum.
Instructions on accessing the online seminar will be sent to you upon receiving your USA Hockey application. The curriculum will be accessed through your USAHockey.com profile and can be completed at your leisure, meaning you can log out and log back in to pick up where you left off. Some presentations are designed to be viewed before attending the seminar as a means to improve the overall seminar experience. These will be highlighted for your consideration.
Officials will find this new system to be beneficial and it will make your overall USA Hockey experience a more valuable one. Let’s get the season off to a great start!