CEC standout Justin Jokinen to play hockey at Mankato StateWhen the final decision had to be made as to where Justin Jokinen would play his college hockey it was easy.
By: Kerry Rodd, Pine Journal
When the final decision had to be made as to where Justin Jokinen would play his college hockey it was easy. The choice? Minnesota State University-Mankato.
“I found it a pretty easy decision to pick Mankato when I heard the coaches tell me they wanted me to come in for next season without any juniors and it is the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association), plus I will be playing a lot,” said Jokinen this week. “I thought to myself ‘What more could I ask for?’ and I thought it would be a perfect fit.”
The weeks and months leading up to Jokinen’s decision were hectic as he helped lead the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team back to the state tournament.
“Last season was the best season of my life,” explained Jokinen. “We had our ups and downs, but coming together at the end and making it to the state tournament was amazing! I had never experienced anything like that in my life – all those people and playing in front of such a large crowd.”
Jokinen was recruited by a number of schools including Alaska Anchorage as well as the University of Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State University, but his final decision was based on research.
“From what the coaches told me and the research I did, everything just seemed so perfect for me,” commented Jokinen. “Also, being a little closer to home ... made it a lot easier as well. I liked the fact that the school is far enough away where I am still on my own and that way I am more independent.”
The Mavericks are known for a fast-paced style of hockey and allow creativity with the puck, a style which suits the high-flying Jokinen very well.
“I think it will take Justin some time to adjust to the speed and physical play, but I believe he will adapt quickly and make contributions his freshman year,” explained CEC coach Dave Esse. “After talking with head coach Troy Jutting, I think he will probably play wing for the Mavericks next year. Mankato is a perfect fit for Justin in all areas – the school, the rink size and the coaching staff.”
At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, you can expect Jokinen to become a force in the WCHA once he gets acclimated to college and hockey life in the league.
“When I finally told the coaches I’d love to be part of the Mavericks they were very excited and said they couldn’t wait for me to come,” Jokinen said.
“They sent me the paper right away after that to sign.”
The easy part of the recruiting process was telling Mankato yes, but Jokinen also had to face the fact that he had to call other coaches and tell them he was not coming to their school. That was not an easy thing for the 18-year-old to do.
“It was difficult at times telling coaches no when they had things to offer me,” Jokinen stated. “It also was kind of scary knowing that I might now have another chance at a scholarship to play hockey, but I believed in myself and I knew I could do it, so I just waited for the best fit for me.”
Through his three years playing at the CEC varsity level, Jokinen has physically and mentally matured, and he has also worked hard at getting his game to develop.
“Each year Justin has elevated his game to another level,” said Esse. “Justin has made himself better through off-season workouts and putting in hours of skating and shooting. It’s been a lot of fun to watch him grow up on and off the ice.”
Jokinen will move to wing after playing his senior season at center for CEC. The entire process of selecting a school was a unique experience.
“The whole recruiting process was great,” recalled Jokinen. “Talking to all the coaches and hearing them tell you what they wanted from you for next season was awesome.”