Paskus commits to UMass-Lowell
Cole Paskus believes he's ready for an east-coast adventure.
A Madison native, he spent a few nights playing at the Janesville Ice Arena with the Madison West High Regents.
Now he's spent much of his late teens becoming a fixture at that rink. In his second year with the North American Hockey League's Janesville Jets, he's now an assistant captain.
Come this time next year, however, Paskus will be in Massachussetts. He committed Tuesday to play Division I hockey for UMass-Lowell, becoming the fifth Jets player on this year's roster to commit to a DI program.
“My visit there was the first time I've ever been to the east coast,” Paskus said after a practice Wednesday, as the first-place Jets prepared to take on the second-place Minnesota Wilderness at home Friday and Saturday nights. “But when I got there, everything just felt really right.
“The people I met, from the coaching staff to the players, the equipment managers, everyone was just so kind. And I could just tell right away that they're really hard-working.”
In that sense, Paskus should fit right in.
He came to Janesville last year and had to work and fight his way into the regular lineup. The forward finished with 13 goals and 13 assists in 49 games.
“There were times when I probably could have given up,” Paskus said. “But I stuck to the process. It feels really great that it's kind of paid off now.
“Last year there were times when I struggled. But I trusted the coaches here in Janesville, and they worked really hard for me. I really appreciate that.”
Paskus' work ethic did not go unnoticed by his teammates. It was a big reason they voted him to wear the “A” on his sweater this season.
And Paskus has responded by taking his game to the next level, as well. He's got 10 goals and 14 assists through the first 24 games. His 24 points rank him just outside the top 20 in the league.
“I probably sound like a broken record, but it really is just sticking to it and making sure you're doing something every day to get better,” Paskus said. “If that means staying after practice, shooting pucks, being the last guy on the ice—those are the things I did. It started to show.”
The Jets hope the trend continues.
They're 19-5-0-2 and their 40 points rank first in the NAHL Midwest and third in the league overall. The Magicians have 34 points, so this weekend gives the Jets an opportunity to pad their lead with just one more series to go before a short holiday break.
“Everybody's super prepared and ready to go and hopefully break away and get as much of a lead as we can,” Paskus said. “Especially this time of year, people are kind of getting ready for winter break. It's just making sure we're doing the right things and keeping in mind the task at hand.”
Paskus has never lost sight of that.
It's part of the reason the Jets are once again among the top teams in the league. And it's a main reason Paskus will head east to play in college next year.