Hermantown senior Jeremy Amys, right, was cut from the Hawks' program as a freshman. Photos by Jordan Doffing; OTSN
Most freshmen in high school have several options when it comes to hockey – bantams, junior gold or high school. For Hermantown senior Jeremy Amys, his choices were a bit limited.
“As a freshman I came in to try out [for the high school team] because I was a little too old to play bantams,” Amys said.
Amys was a casualty of high numbers that season, getting cut by the high school team. But instead of giving up on his goal of playing for Hermantown, Amys got to work.
Amys started skating outdoors, often by himself, to try and improve his game by the time the next round of tryouts came around the following fall.
“[After I got cut] I just thought ‘I’m going to skate outside, skate as much as I can and as hard as I can just to get better, ' ” Amys said. “I wanted to come back ten times better than I was as a freshman and try to make the team.”
The dedication and hard work paid off for Amys, who made the junior varsity squad the next season. Then, as a junior, Amys split time between the junior varsity and varsity.
Now a senior, Amys plays an important role for the undefeated Hawks. He has eight goals and 21 points in 22 games this season, is smart with the puck and a tough defender. He’s also a vital piece of the depth that has helped Hermantown get to where they are at this point in the season.
“There is nothing better for a high school hockey team than to have capable seniors that can play and fill a certain role for the team,” Hermantown coach Bruce Plante said. “Seniors always make or break your season. That is why we give kids like Jeremy second chances.”
That second chance means a lot to Amys.
“It’s unbelievable [to play for Hermantown],” Amys said. “Hockey in Hermantown is so big, and everyone wants to put on that Hermantown jersey and go out there and play. We idolize these kids growing up, and you just hope that one day that will be you.”
Besides the dreams of skating on the same ice as Hermantown greats like Jon Francisco and Kyle Schmidt, the dream of wearing the Hawks jersey is a lot about friendship and togetherness, too.
“We have so much chemistry together as a team,” Amys says. “My two best friends are on my line, we’re always hanging out together, too, so I think that kind of plays out on the ice with how we work together.”
As Plante says, kids like Amys do more than just help out their friends on the ice – they inspire team efforts.
“The other guys have great respect for the tenacity, stick-to-it-ness, humility and desire [of players like Amys] to make it back,” Plante said. “The message probably is that ‘I missed it so much that I tried again, so make sure you appreciate and enjoy every minute of Hermantown high school hockey’.”
Hermantown's Zach Kramer (13) and Denfeld's Matt Mattila lock up after throwing a few punches late in the third period.
Hermantown's Neal Pionk (19) takes down Denfeld's Ben Campbell in the second period.
A four-goal explosion in the middle frame helped top-ranked Hermantown cruise to a 7-0 win over Duluth Denfeld on Monday, Feb. 6, in the first game of the Perkins Frenzy at Amsoil Arena.
Six different members of the Hawks scored goals, including UMD recruit Jared Thomas, who netted a pair of goals in the win.
During a back-and-forth first period, which saw the Hunters just miss on several key scoring chances, Hermantown took a few minutes to find its legs.
The Hawks eventually got things going, and Matt Lord was able to finish off a nice passing play at the doorstep to give Hermantown a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
After that, it was all Hawks.
Travis Koepke tallied just 58 seconds into the second, then Thomas, Paul Harrold and Bo Gronseth beat Duluth Denfeld goalie Zach Thompson to open up a 5-0 advantage.
The lopsided score led to some heated after the whistle exchanges, including a scrum at 9 minutes, 51 seconds of the final period that led to 29 minutes in penalties between the two squads.
Thomas and Brian LeBlanc recorded goals in the third period to give the Hawks the 7-0 win.
Thomas, Lord and Mike Robertson each had two assists, while five other Hawks were credited with a single helper in the game.
Matt Mensigner finished with 22 saves for the shutout, his second of the season.
Thompson was tested early and often between the pipes for the Hunters, turning away 35 of the 42 shots thrown his way.
Hermantown, who upped its perfect record to 22-0-0 with the win, is back in action on Saturday afternoon against Red Wing.
Duluth Denfeld (9-11-2) will play Minnesota’s other top-ranked team, Duluth East, in a crosstown battle on Wednesday night.
1. Matt Lord, Hermantown
The senior forward helped the Hawks pull out of their slow start with a goal in the first, then added two helpers in the final 34 minutes to finish with a three-point night. Lord, who plays on the Hermantown second line, used his speed and tenacity to break through the Denfeld defense.
2. Jared Thomas, Hermantown
Thomas was all over the ice on Monday, scoring two goals and four points in the big win. What sets him apart from the competition is his unique ability to stickhandle in tight spaces, something he did on a pretty goal against the Hunters.
3. Jake Zeleznikar, Hermantown
The big, speedy blue-liner used his wheels to start rushes, his hands to set up teammates and his size to shutdown the Duluth Denfeld attack. Only a junior, Zeleznikar is one of the emerging assets on the Hermantown roster, helping it to boast one of the deepest groups of defensemen in the state.