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The Sports Page

Jarret has his eyes on the future
By John Vessoyan

It’s only fitting that Hamilton Bulldogs rookie forward Jarret Stoll is playing for a winner.
He’s won a prize of some significance at many levels of hockey. The native of Melville, Saskatchewan, who grew up in nearby Yorkton, helped his team win the Bantam AAA championship out west.

In the early years Jarret's family lived in Neudorf and he played minor hockey in nearby Mellville. Before long they were off to Yorkton where he attended Sacred Heart High School and chased visions of following in his brother Kelly's footsteps and playing for the Terriers.

Kelly, 24, who had a tryout with Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League played two seasons for Yorkton. Today, he farms in the area and plays Senior C Hockey for Foam Lake in the Saskatchewan Hockey Association.

Stoll's family lives in Balcarres, Saskatchewan near Mellville, where his father, Tim, is District Manager for the Pioneer Grain Elevators. His mother, Sheri, acts as chauffeur for her daughter Ashley as she pursues her hockey future with the Millville midget girls' rep team. The 16-year-old attends Mellville High School.

Just a year ago, Stoll captained the Kootenay Ice of the Canadian Hockey League to the Memorial Cup, the biggest reward for junior hockey superiority.

“Winning the Memorial Cup was awesome,” said Stoll. “It was a great way to cap off a four year career in junior.”

“Going into the playoffs (last year) we thought we had a good team, and we gained a lot of confidence as the playoffs went on. We peaked at the right time and everyone played well. It was great how the team came together.”

Stoll was named captain of the Ice in his third year there. “It was nice to be considered a leader and someone people looked up to.”

“I took pride in being a captain and a leader.”

Like a number of his teamamates, Jarret is the first one in his family to enter the world of professional hockey. This year, the 20-year-old is on the roster of the American Hockey Leagues top team, poised to make a strong run at the Calder Cup.

Jarret readily admits that his season would be complete if his parents could make it to Hamilton once more this season before the playoffs are over along with his girlfriend. Morgen, a Yorkton resident is studying for a Degree in Business and Commerce at the University of Saskatchewan at Sakatoon.

Although he’s a first year pro, Stoll has looked more like a veteran on the youngest team in the AHL.

He’s a leader, with a goal scorer’s touch and great vision. Stoll was able to find the net in junior hockey, scoring 124 goals in 245 games. He hasn’t lost his map to the net this season, finishing the season with 21 goals in 76 games, tying him for third place on the Bulldog goal-scoring list.

“I thought it would be harder to score up here in the AHL, and it is harder,” he said. “There are top notch goalies up here. In Junior, you might be able to get away with a couple of soft ones, but not here. It comes down to burying your chances.”

Stoll got a shot with the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League this season. He was called up and played in four games, registering an assist on a goal by former Bulldog Jason Chimera. Stoll enjoyed his brief stint with the Oilers.

“Hockey is definitely a professional sport in Edmonton,” he said. “All the guys were really friendly. They’re so young, just like a bunch of kids. But it was an exciting atmosphere and it was great to put on the Oilers jersey.”

Stoll ended up in the Edmonton organization almost by chance. The Calgary Flames originally selected him in the NHL Entry Draft three years ago.

When the Flames couldn’t sign him, they dealt him to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stoll and the Leafs agreed to a deal before the June 1st deadline. Or so they thought. The Leafs sent a fax in to the NHL head office to make the deal official, but the fax didn’t make it on time, thus nullifying the agreement.

He then decided to re-enter the Draft in 2002, and that’s when the Oilers nabbed him, with their 36th overall pick in the second round.

“It was up and down,” said Stoll about the mess. “I was disappointed not being able to sign with Calgary. I was pumped again when Toronto was interested, and I was ecstatic to sign that contract. But they it was another let down when it didn’t go through.”

“I went into the draft with an open mind, Edmonton took me and I’m in a great situation right now,” said Jarret, who admits that as a child was inspired by Canada's exploits in the World Junior Hockey Tournaments, his brother's career and first and foremost, Hockey Night In Canada.

“I couldn’t be happier.”

The Edmonton Oilers must feel the same way.