By: Kelcee Kent (11/21/17)
Growing up in the “State of Hockey”, every kid dreams of playing in the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul. For Minnesota native and Green Bay Gamblers forward, Jesse Jacques (19), he’s already lived that dream…twice.
Jacques grew up in Hermantown a town of 9,500 located in northern Minnesota just outside of Duluth. Hermantown had established itself as a hockey dynasty. They were also a program that suffered multiple heart-breaking defeats, falling in the state championship in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. All that heartache would be erased in 2016, as Jacques and his Hawk teammates captured Hermantown’s first state title since 2007.
As a senior, Jacques continued his offensive prowess tallying 23 goals in the regular season. His scoring touch continued in the post season, scoring three goals in the section final. However, in the state tournament, Jacques found himself in a scoring slump:
“It was getting into my head and I was getting down on myself, so I texted my Dad,” Jacques said. “He reassured me I could do it, and when I went back out for period three, I knew I was going to.”
In the third period of the championship game, Jacques found the back of the net to bring the Hawks to within a goal. Two-minutes later the game would be tied and headed for overtime. Overtime in the championship game had not been kind to Hermantown, as they were on the losing end in 2011 and again in 2012. This time around it would be different as the Hawks prevailed in double overtime.
“Being able to play in Minnesota (at home) was special because I was able to grow up playing hockey with my buddies, and having these memorable experiences, like winning championships is something unforgettable” said Jacques.
The two-time state champion was no stranger to the Gamblers, as he had attended the team’s summer tryout camp twice while in high school. Green Bay made it official, selecting Jacques in the 2017 USHL Entry Draft.
“Having the opportunity to attend the Gamblers camps was a great experience for me, and during that time I was able to check out the city and I loved that aspect too,” said Jacques.
Being Jacques first year in the USHL, his transition has been both swift and impressive.
“Jesse brings a ton of big game experience from the championship games with Hermantown,” says Gamblers head coach Pat Mikesch. “He has already adjusted well the USHL, and has the ability to make major strides during his time here in Green Bay.”
Jacques is hoping to build on his early season success and lead the Gamblers to their third Clark Cup since 2010.
“The main thing is to be comfortable on the ice and build confidence as individuals and a team. Growing up playing with my buddies, the chemistry on our team came with our years of friendship,” says Jacques. “And I’m looking forward to seeing that progression this season with the Gamblers.”
On Wednesday the Gamblers return to the Resch Center for their annual Night before Thanksgiving hockey game. Start time versus the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders is 7:05 PM. On Saturday the defending Clark Cup champion Chicago Steel visit the Resch Center. Start time is also 7:05 PM.