Davis takes over reins of Muskie boys’ hockey team

Lucas Punkari

Although he’s known since last Monday that he’ll be in charge of the Muskie boys’ hockey team this fall, the fact that he’ll be standing behind the Fort High bench has yet to set in for newly-minted head coach Jamie Davis.
“It’s still a little bit surreal and I don’t even know how to put it into words really,” the 26-year-old Devlin native admitted.
“I think it’s going to be surreal until the pucks drops as there is so much that goes into it before we get on the ice,” Davis noted.
“[But] I’m really excited to be a part of this, and to be a part of team that has such a great history is really cool,” he enthused.
Davis, who has coached the local PeeWee ‘AA’ and Bantam ‘AA’ teams, in addition to working behind the bench for the regional Bantam ‘AAA’ squad during the last three seasons, will be taking over the Muskie head coaching gig, which was left opened after Shawn Jourdain stepped down midway through last season after leading the team since the 2008-09 season.
Ed Vold took over for the rest of the campaign, and led the team to a Northland Cup title over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora).
“It’s always been a goal of mine after I was done playing hockey to one day coach this team,” Davis said.
“When the opportunity came up that this position was opening up again, I put my name in there and worked hard to try and get it,” he noted.
“But I just had to hope for the best as it was all out of my control, obviously.
“Fortunately, it all worked out.”
In addition to playing for the Kenora Stars Midget ‘AAA’ program, the Dryden Ice Dogs, and the Phoenix Polar Bears, Davis also donned the black-and-gold uniform for one game during his Grade 10 year, when he was playing Bantam hockey here.
“I’ll never forget that game as we lost 4-1 to Baudette in the old rink and I happened to score the only goal,” he recalled.
“The team had a few injuries at the time, so Glen Edwards called up a couple of us from the Bantam team and that was quite an experience.
“My younger brother, Jeff, was also a member for three seasons, so I have a real understating of what the program is all about,” Davis added.
One of the things Davis stressed during his interview for the position is a mission statement for the team that reads: “The Muskie program is committed to the pursuit of excellence on the ice, academically, and in the personal development of our student athletes as dynamic and respectful members of our community.”
“I was always told that there’s so much more to hockey than what goes on out on the ice, and I find so much value in that as you learn those life skills like commitment, responsibility, and being accountable for you actions,” Davis reasoned.
“The most important thing you learn is being a part of something that is something bigger than you are, as there’s no room for selfishness and those kinds of things,” he stressed.
On the coaching front, Davis will be joined by a familiar face on the Muskie bench as longtime assistant coach Ken Christiansen will return for another season.
“As I’ve gotten to know ‘Kenno’ more and more, you can really see the type of person that he is and the impact that he has on the kids is phenomenal,” Davis said.
“You couldn’t ask for a better guy to have standing beside you.”
Paul Cousineau also is slated to return as the team’s equipment and bench manager while Mike Cuzzolino will continue in his role as the teacher rep.
Joining the team will be goalie coach Neil Cooper while personal trainers Ian McKay and Alyssa Vanderaa will help the team in their off-ice training.
Prior to the start of the team’s training camp, which will be held in early September, Davis will spend most of his time working on finalizing the team’s schedule.
“I hope to have it done by the end of August at the latest,” he said.
“The biggest thing will be scheduling some quality exhibition games, as we already have our league games and our regular tournaments that we would normally attend set to go,” Davis noted.
“We’ve had conversations with the Thunder Bay Kings to have a home-and-home series with their U16 Minor-Midget team, and it will be great to have games like that,” he remarked.
“It’s tough to get Minnesota high school games for this year as a lot of teams have their schedules done by February,” added Davis.
“But we are still going to try and get some of those games back, or to get into a tournament down there.”
One of those exhibition games is the hotly-contested “border battle” between the Muskies and International Falls Broncos, which was not held last season as a result of incidents that had occurred in the stands during some of their most recent meetings.
“It would be great to have that game come back, especially for the kids as to play in front of those big crowds is very exciting,” Davis said.
“I don’t think that is going to happen this year, but hopefully we can make something happen in the years to follow.”
Although he won’t know how his squad will look exactly until the final roster is determined, Davis made it perfectly clear as to the type of players he likes to see out on the ice.
“I like guys who are there for the guys next to them, and those players who demand consistency from themselves and each other,” he explained.
“My motto is to just go, go, go, and when you think you have to stop, you have to keep going some more,” he added.
When it comes to his new role as head coach of the Muskie boys’ hockey team, Davis has some short-term and long-term goals in mind as he prepares to step behind the bench for the 2013-14 NorWOSSA season.
“In the short-term, I would like to get familiar with the program and to get a clear understanding with how the program operates through the school and in the community,” he said.
“In the long-term, I would just like to bring the excitement back and have people excited about going to the Muskie games again.
“We’re sneaking up on 50 years here and that is pretty incredible,” Davis enthused.