WCHA Prospect Check-In: Jake Jackson, The Longitudinal Study

Michigan Tech senior Jake Jackson just attended his sixth NHL development camp with the San Jose Sharks. When he first headed out to the Bay Area in 2013, he was a 170-pound string bean, and Todd MacLellan was the Sharks coach. 

“I was so nervous, just out of high school,” Jackson said. “I hadn’t really been away from home.” 

The former newbie has since climbed three rungs on hockey’s developmental ladder: from the North American Junior League to the USHL to two seasons of NCAA Division I. Jackson is now a technical communications major at the prestigious engineering school Michigan Tech. 

It’s a remarkable confluence that a tech major is affiliated with the only NHL franchise in Silicon Valley. The Sharks run every prospect through a battery bests every July, and after six sessions in San Jose, they now have reams of data on Jackson.

“They do a pretty strenuous list of tests every year,” Jackson said. “They keep track of them from year to year.” 

The testing is prodigious: body fat percentage, vertical jump, broad jump, pull-ups, movement testing, balance with flexibility tests, six consecutive length-of-the-ice sprints with 15-second recovery splits, straight-line speed, crossover speed, five-10-five shuttle drills, and lest they forget, height and weight. 

All of Jackson’s data has been meticulously recorded, entered into laptops, and stored on hard drives for the duration of his affiliation with the Sharks. When charted out, all of Jackson’s growth axes are pointing northeast.

“Everything has gone up since I started,” said Jackson, who likened some of his NHL testing to the short-burst drills conducted at Michigan Tech. “Those have skyrocketed.” 

Another tangible way to track Jackson’s growth is to read his bio line in the Michigan Tech media guide: Sophomore year—“Most improved player;” junior year—63 percent jump in production up to 26 points as a top-six scorer. 

Jackson’s annual production reads like a blue-chip stock, a relentless incremental climb to success. He has yet to plateau, and the Husky senior has a final season of college hockey before him, a hockey environment that is so conducive to self-improvement: four days of practice and weights prior to each weekend doubleheader.

Jackson is a project, a young man that NHL franchises refer to as organizational depth. Few could have imagined him as an NHL candidate five years ago, but he has added two inches, 20 pounds and a world of experience since he wandered into the Sharks NHL facility with stars in his eyes. San Jose scouting director Tim Burke has taken a special interest in Jackson, and has made a point of teaching him “the Sharks’ way.”

“I know Tim Burke pretty well,” said Jackson, shortly after his sixth camp in San Jose. “He’s been a lot of help to me over the years. He’s detail oriented and very blunt.” 

#10 Jake Jackson

Michigan Tech Huskies

Class: Senior
Position: Forward
Height: 6-0
Weight: 188
Hometown: Maplewood, Minnesota
Last Team: Nanaimo (BCHL)
NHL: San Jose (2013 7th Round, #201 Overall) 

2017-18 Point Scoring

GPPPGG-A-P
390.6713-13-26

For example, Burke likes to confront his prospects and demand to know what they are doing—that very day—to improve their hockey fortunes. Jackson then provided a typical exchange between Burke and one of his charges.

“What are you doing on Monday?” barks Burke, clipping his vowels in his New England chowder accent.

“Oh, I’m skating and then doing a lift,” says the camper.

“Well, you should be in your garage stickhandling, toe-drag, quick hands!”

Burke has spent the last six years implementing techniques specific to the Sharks organization: evading defensemen in the corners, shooting through defenders’ legs, and Burke’s specialty, shooting one-timers. 

“It’s different than what you’d expect,” said Jackson, “and Burke is the one that’s teaching it.”

Sometime in late March or early April, Jackson’s NCAA career will come to a close up at Michigan Tech. It’s likely the Sharks, who have monitored Jackson’s development in minute detail, will offer him a professional contract. 

The Sharks minor league affiliate is also in San Jose, so there is a good chance Jackson will start his next hockey chapter in the Bay Area. 

“The more I go there, the more I like it,” Jackson said. “I’m comfortable getting around the city, around the guys, around the staff. That’s the angle, right? To make it to the NHL.” 

Then Jackson soberly assessed his lifelong dream that he has been patiently striding toward for over five years: “If I get the opportunity to sign a contract, and play in the NHL or the AHL, either way, I’m ready for the opportunity.”


WCHA Prospect Check-Ins:

Brandon Kruse, Bowling Green — Vegas Golden Knights
Philip Beaulieu, Northern Michigan — Boston Bruins
Cooper Zech, Ferris State — Washington Capitals
Steven Ruggiero, Lake Superior State — Anaheim Ducks
Jake Jaremko, Minnesota State — Nashville Predators

Bemidji State Scrape Points Off North Dakota Behind Driscoll's Goaltending

The 2018-2019 WCHA Hockey Season Is Almost Here

Lost in the euphoria of Bemidji State’s three-point weekend at the expense of national power North Dakota was the comeback story of the Beavers transfer goalie Zach Driscoll. After allowing a goal barely two minutes into the contest, the 21-year-old sophomore from Apple Valley, Minnesota, shut out the high-powered Fighting Hawks for over 60 minutes in North Dakota’s hockey castle, Ralph Engelstad Arena, preserving a 1-1 tie and an undefeated opening weekend for the Beavers.

Burke Brothers Hope To Bring A Title To Notre Dame Hockey

Everyone who follows Notre Dame’s exploits on the gridiron knows that some wins contain a touch of magic — wins that transcend the box score. But few could have predicted that a November victory against Pitt six years ago could have national championship implications for their hockey squad today. Let’s break it down.

Bowling Green Upends No. 18 Western Michigan, Extends WCHA Success

October is the manic month of the sports calendar, our collective heads spinning with college football and NFL in full swing, the NHL and NBA playing games that count, and the Major League baseball season culminating in the Fall Classic. What is often lost in the swirl of box scores and late nights sweating out balls and strikes are the inter-conference college hockey games. Last week in this space we asserted that these seemingly meaningless games — like Merrimack versus Lake Superior State — often determine at-large invites to the NCAA tourney.

Bowling Green Opens Season On Fire, Sounds Alarm For WCHA

The 2018-2019 WCHA Hockey Season Is Almost Here

The Bowling Green Falcons opened the season flying past Mercyhurst, as three players recorded four points in an 8-2 rout of the Lakers.

The Usual Suspects Lead Their WCHA Teams In Opening Weekend

Starting a new season off on the right foot can build confidence and momentum, which is exactly what a few regular culprits did for their respective WCHA teams during the opening weekend of the 2018-19 NCAA season.

WCHA Season Begins: No. 10 Minnesota State Mavericks Lead The Way

The 2018-2019 WCHA Hockey Season Is Almost Here

In case you missed our State of the Program pieces detailing each WCHA team over the past several weeks, we’re condensing it all down for both the fashionably late and the time-crunchers lusting for a fresh season of WCHA hockey.

Out-Of-Conference Games Are Vital For The WCHA's NCAA Hopes, Says Daniels

The 2018-2019 WCHA Hockey Season Is Almost Here

Starting October 12, the Minnesota State Mavericks will skate through an eight-day, four-game gauntlet of non-conference hell: hosting two games with Boston University, followed by a six-hour bus ride to North Dakota, hockey’s answer to Death Valley. Why in the world would coach Mike Hastings subject his Mavericks to such extreme tests so early in the season? 

NHL Division Predictions: A Pittsburgh Comeback, Nashville, & Joe Thornton

The beginning of October means hockey is officially back. With parity increasing annually in the NHL, predictions run rampant, which is exactly what FloHockey has for you below.

Salmenkangas Could Be The Goalie Daniels, Ferris State Are Looking For

As a 17-year-old, Roni Salmenkangas was just another goalie in Finland, toiling in Junior B with unimpressive numbers in 2016-17. Not surprisingly, the altitude of his career track was well below the radar of North American scouts. Last season, however, the slender goalie put up extraordinary numbers in Finland’s Junior A League for HPK, which got his club into the playoffs, but was too late to generate feelers from U.S. colleges or major junior squads. 

State Of The Program: No. 20 Northern Michigan Wildcats Ready To Pounce

Coach Grant Potulny turned Northern Michigan around during his first season at the helm of the Wildcats, leading them to their first winning record since 2011-12 and a clear path into the future, entering the season ranked at No. 20.