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From Ed Jeske to the NCAA: Yellowknife hockey player wins national championship

Jack Works, the Yellowknife hockey player responsible for scoring the first goal in the Ed Jeske arena at nine-years-old, has added another first to his list of accomplishments — winning a national college championship.

The 20-year-old Works is a forward for the University of Denver Pioneers who defeated the Minnesota State Mavericks 5-1 for the Frozen Four NCAA championship on April 9.

“That was one of the coolest things ever, being on the ice after just taking it all. It’s like, Yeah, it’s still hard to believe,” Works told CBC’s the Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis after the win.

Works is a freshman, studying business in Colorado, but he grew up playing minor hockey in Yellowknife. 

He was playing junior hockey in Alberta when he got picked up by the University of Denver.  

Jack Works, playing minor hockey in Yellownknife. (Submitted by Jack Works)

Knowing he was signing with a team that had, at the time, won eight championships, and the great hockey facilities in Denver made it “easy to say yes,” he said. 

Works parents, Greg and Kathy, were in Boston for the game.  

“It was so cool to share that with them, too,” Works said. 

He said some of his best memories go back to playing for the Wolfpack development team in Yellownknife, all the hockey parents and volunteers like Dan Schofield “who did a lot not only for me but also for all kinds of other players.”

In 2009, when he was 9, Jack Works scored the first goal in the Ed Jeske arena at Yellowknife’s new multiplex sports facility. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

He said he tells his teammates about that picture of him up at the Ed Jeske arena. 

“That’s a great memory actually,” he said. “Scored the first goal in one of the rinks. It’s actually pretty cool, really special.”

Room to develop

One of Works fellow players with the Pioneers, Bobby Brink, signed an NHL contract with Philadelphia the day after the championship win.

Works said he hopes he’ll have room to step up and shine next season. 

Number 25, Jack Works, on the ice with the University of Denver Pioneers. (Submitted by Jack Works)

“I’m still a young guy. So next year, I’m hoping I could take a bigger role from, you know, being a guy who doesn’t play as much, maybe to someone who did kill penalties, for example, or support a play a bit more, hopefully,” he said. 

He has some thoughts for young players from the North, who may be facing opportunities to play in the south.  

Don’t let the stress get to you, he said. 

“You just gotta have fun. Trust yourself, like, you know, you’re going for a reason. You’ve put in a lot of hard work, so just trust yourself.” 

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