Thursday, August 25, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
He gave his hair stylist some dap for her craftsmanship atop the 6-foot-5 blueliner's dome.
But it comes as little surprise that the winner of one of the two 2011 USHL Scholar-Athlete Awards is ready for the whole experience of playing college hockey - from having media savvy to being prepared to be a key piece of the University of Nebraska-Omaha's fierce and tenacious style of play.
Megna, a Mona Shores High School graduate who boasted a 4.5 GPA, admits he's had little trouble adjusting to the college classroom since arriving in Omaha on June 5. He's already got a couple of courses under his belt and is currently plugging away at political science.
That, balanced against four workouts every week, is nice transition between wrapping up an intense season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the United States Hockey League.
Here's how his morning workouts play out:
- Long warmup
- Olympic lift
- Core work
It's a similar program to the one that UNO alumnus and Jacks Assistant Coach Dave Noel-Bernier employed in Muskegon. Only Megna admits, as the players are preparing for the annual agility and running tests, there's a lot more running than he's accustomed to.
The players need to run eight 400-meter stretches in less than 70 seconds, with two minutes rest between each set.
They also need to run 10 200s in less than 30 seconds each.
"The 400s are near a sprint, and the 200s are pretty much a dead sprint," Megna says.
While the emphasis has been on the shuttle runs, the group will also have to gut out a 10-kilometer run.
“It’s just something we’ll have to grind out,” Megna says, laughing.
Megna's been getting his kicks by swinging the sticks - when the sweltering weather allows - as he's golfed regularly. He got to play a par-3 course with his billet dad (also the brother of Jacks President Tim Taylor), Ken Taylor, along with Ken's son, Andrew, and Jaycob's dad, Jay.
The Taylors could only visit for a couple of days, but Jaycob can't underestimate what the family will always mean to him and that he, "couldn't have made it" last season without his billets making life and the transition from Northbrook, Ill, a smooth one.
The Jacks who are embarking on their college careers are grateful that their former homes are always just a phone call away. During my interview with Jaycob, Lance Fredrickson hops on the line for a moment to tell him that "Big Mike's put on 30 pounds." Then they exchange a few new tunes they've been listening to.
Jaycob has a big-time comfort of home with him full-time, as one of his three roommates is his "big" brother Jayson. When not golfing or playing XBox, the gang often takes in a flick, as a few teammates work at a local theater.
The players will be back on campus after a week off this Sunday, and will hit the ice for captains' practices for the first time. Full-blown practices will get under way in mid-September.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
"Hey Jacks fans."
That's how I begin the bulk of your Muskegon Lumberjacks' Facebook messages. Pretty straight-forward stuff, getting your attention and letting you know something good is coming.
Something like this:
I didn't grow up here. Sometimes I find myself wondering how different my job would be if I grew up watching the Jacks hoist their Huber Trophies and Turner Cups in the mid-80s. If I'd watched Jock Callander play and had yet another reason to believe Mark Recchi is simply awesome.
But I was an S.S. Badger trip across Lake Michigan back then, in my hometown of Manitowoc, Wisco.
As the time approaches when your Muskegon Lumberjacks will arrive, it truly sinks in that (Timmy, cover your ears - I know you don't want to hear this) Year 2 is going to be under way before we know it.
I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to have 50 years of any professional sport in any city the size of Muskegon. So as we get set for our second go-round, I'm very excited to get to know the young men who will proudly wear the Lumberjacks crest during the 2011-12 United States Hockey League season.
Last year, I had the pleasure to be on board for a pretty impressive maiden voyage for Musky in the USHL. This year, I believe that Captain Patrick's vessel will be loaded for a war.
A longtime University of Wisconsin hockey fan, it was pretty surreal to meet Kevin Patrick about a year ago - the quietly intense figure who I'd watch help steer Bucky to a national championship in 2006 at the Bradley Center, right across the street from my workplace, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
This will be my second year as a broadcaster. I'm excited to have our dozen returning players all back in one place. Many of them, like me, weren't from around here. As a result, they didn't know what exactly to expect in the first year in a brand new city and in a brand new league.
With about half the roster having been part of the thrill ride last season, it's a blessing to be able to grow with these guys. We're all learning. It'd be remiss if I wasn't shooting to someday call games in the National Hockey League. That's what's phenomenal about being a Lumberjack. From top to bottom, this team wants everyone to reach their potential - human potential, as our owner, Josh Mervis so often says.
Nick Seeler being selected by the team he grew up rooting for is flat-out awesome, and he's the first of many Lumberjacks whose names we'll hear called at future NHL Entry drafts.
How cool is it to be part of that?
Many of the 2010-11 Lumberjacks will realize their collegiate potential over the next few years, and I look forward to keeping you in touch with them. I chatted with Jaycob Megna this morning.
Look for a blog post on your 2010-11 USHL Scholar-Athlete Award-winner and current University of Nebraska-Omaha tomorrow.
As the season draws nigh, I'll fill you in on how all the former Jacks are doing in their transitions on the ice and off. During the season, every Thursday we'll do our Alumni report to fill you in on how the games went from the previous weekend and set you up for our alumni's matchup.
I'm looking forward to the head-to-head clashes. KP would attribute this to my cockroach-like media tenacity.
Muskegon hockey historian Jay Vande Voorde met with our community relations director, Sarah Lambert, this morning to talk about the children's book he and some of our players from last season collaborated to produce.
He, like me, is eagerly awaiting some former Jack collegiate clashes. He won't be able to make the Jacks' games on either November 18 or 19, as he'll be in Colorado Springs, watching Charlie Taft and his Tigers and mine and Brendan Woods' Badgers tussle for the first time.
We will also have a regular Down on the Farm Report every Tuesday, when we'll let you know how the future Jacks stars are performing with their AAA and prep squads.
This is going to be fun. Catch up with you tomorrow!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
To be fair, anyone who watched the Jacks' every move last season will need no introduction to Carter Foguth and Lance Fredrickson.
But casual fans and die-hards alike would be delighted if they saw what's happening on a daily basis in the L.C. Walker Arena weight room.
Celebrated bruiser Carter Foguth, who led the club in both plus/minus and uppercuts landed last season, rolled into town a few weeks early to work out with Fredrickson and enjoy the tutelage of Jacks Assistant Coach and Strength Trainer Dave Noel-Bernier.
"Freddie pushes me," Foguth says. "Not to mention it's easy to get distracted when you're at home."
Fredrickson, meanwhile, is practically working out down the street from his parents' home in Spring Lake.
But fearless Freddie has travelled far and wide to improve his craft this summer. He's been attending boxing classes twice a week in Grand Rapids and, along with the 6-foot-6 Mike Moran - who's put on nearly 30 pounds this summer - spent time training with infamous NHL tough man Jim McKenzie in Nashville.
Fredrickson already has a lot of the things that a player can't be taught - nastiness and unparalleled loyalty to his teammates. He's used boxing training to make sure he's in the best shape of his life. And it's working.
"It's just awesome cardio, and by the time you're done you can't lift your arms," Fredrickson says.
Foguth is also a celebrated pizza artist and put in plenty of time at his father's Little Caesar's store this summer. He's as quick to call out his culinary competition as he is opponents on the ice.
"Best in town," Foguth says with the biggest of smiles. "Hungry Howie's and Pizza Hut? We're coming for you."
While Foguth might be a sultan of sauce, one can tell he doesn't put the calories to waste. Just ask his workout partner.
"I want to get big," says Fredrickson. "I obviously want to reach the muscle stature of a Greek god like Fogey."
These guys are scary, and they're getting scarier - in a good way.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The pair of Lumberjacks forwards will be catching a flight shortly for central Europe. It was a year ago that the dynamic duo were members of the Team USA Select-17 squad that took the gold medal at the Five-Nations Tournament in Huttwil, Switzerland. Both of them described it as the highlight of their hockey careers.
This year's target? Capturing gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, better known to some as the World Juniors.
The tournament takes place Saturday, Aug. 6 through Saturday, Aug. 13 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and marks the start of the international hockey season, as well as the beginning of the exhaustive scouting process that will culminate next June in the NHL Entry Draft. Standout performances at the event can directly lead to players being drafted. Exhibit A is Swedish forward Joachim Nermark leading all skaters with 11 points and going on to be drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by Colorado.
The official games begin on Monday, Aug. 8, and will wrap up with the gold-medal and bronze-medal games on Saturday, Aug. 13. Team USA took silver in last year's tournament.
Jordy and Joe will be blogging on their experience throughout. Jordy's so excited that he wants to blog before they even step on the plane.
It's already been one heck of a summer for the duo, as Jordy led all skaters at the recent Team USA Hockey Player Development Camp in Ann Arbor with nine goals. His 11 points put him near the top of the leaderboard. Joe wasn't too far behind with six points on four Ginos and a pair of apples.
This reporter is swelling with pride to know that two integral parts of the Jacks' future will be representing the Red, White and Blue next week. Joe proudly wore the "C" last summer in Switzerland and is elated to be a leader on the squad once again.
Outstanding Muskegon Chronicle beat writer Ron Rop will be crafting a preview story for the tournament and will be following it next week. Between his writing and the boys keeping us updated through the power of the interwebs, we're very excited to follow the pair's every stride.