By Emily Polglaze
JANESVILLE, WI — The Janesville Jets, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that defenseman and Jets tender Chase Blackmun has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Riverhawks in the Hockey East conference.
“I was absolutely ecstatic after I was able to commit,” Blackmun said. “To know that all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication is beginning to pay off only motivates me more to keep developing as a player and person.”
Blackmun was tendered by the Jets in December 2016 after making his NAHL debut in a game against Austin. He registered two shots on goal and was +1 on the evening.
At the time, the defenseman had just wrapped up the first 20 games of Team Wisconsin’s split season, in which he scored 10 points. He would go on to play his prep season for Hudson High School, but former Jets head coach Joe Dibble said that it was apparent that Blackmun was ready for junior hockey.
“He was a player that we felt when his high school and Team Wisconsin seasons were over, we could bring him into Janesville and he could help us win hockey games from the get-go,” Dibble said.
Blackmun led the Hudson Raiders in points during the regular season with 13 goals and 31 assists, and helped carry his team to the state tournament. The captain scored in a 2-1 victory over the Waukesha Wings and capped his high school career with a storybook ending and state title.
Blackmun was then able to join the Jets for the team’s run for the Robertson Cup.
“As a defenseman, he was able to step in right away and played like he’d been with us all year. I think when you watch Chase’s first game he played with us in the playoffs against Coulee Region compared to the last one against Lone Star, he got better every night, every shift,” Dibble said. “He’s an elite hockey player with an elite hockey mind. Whether it was breaking out of the zone or transition plays, he made the right decisions.”
In seven games of the playoffs, Blackmun tallied two assists in the Jets’ second round against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Dibble said he immediately fit into the locker room and emulated the type of player Janesville seeks.
“I was able to meet and play with some great guys and play against very tough opponents. My time with the Jets far surpassed my expectations,” he said. “Mr. Dibble and Mr. [Kyle] Forte were very helpful and approachable with questions I had and let me know what I needed to work on in order to play college hockey. The entire Jets organization from the owner to the players is top-notch and is an incredible place to be if you want to develop.”
Blackmun is set to join the Riverhawks in the 2019-2020 season. UMass-Lowell in which the Riverhawks captured both the regular season and tournament titles in Hockey East, their third tournament win in five years.
The team went on to the NCAA Tournament and made quick work of Cornell in a 5-0 first-round victory, but fell just short of a Frozen Four berth with a 3-2 loss to Notre Dame.
The Riverhawks have gone to the NCAA Tournament eight times in their 33 Division I seasons, and won three national titles as a former Division II program.
Former Riverhawk Norm Bazin took the helm as head coach at UMass-Lowell in 2011, and led the team to its first Frozen Four, Hockey East regular season championship, and Hockey East tournament championship all in the 2012-2013 season. He is a three-time Hockey East Coach of the Year winner, including this past season.
“The hockey setup that Lowell has is absolutely incredible. They give every opportunity to develop whether it’s the weight room, extra ice, film or whatever you need,” Blackmun said. “The guys I talked to were great people, which is what anyone wants in their teammates. In the end, Mr. Bazin, Mr. [assistant coach Cam] Ellsworth and Mr. [assistant coach Andy] Jones are three amazing coaches and knowing that they believe in me as a player and as a person, ultimately helped me decide that Lowell is the best place for me.”
Blackmun said he wants to help bring UMass-Lowell its first national championship, but the school was also an academic draw. He said he plans to earn a degree in either the school’s business or engineering programs.
This season, Blackmun will play with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the United States Hockey League. Though his time in Janesville was brief, he said there was plenty to learn from the experience.
“I was able to learn that there’s always going to be guys out there that are bigger, faster, or stronger,” Blackmun said. “So it’s vital to keep getting better everyday, and to always be the hardest-working guy on the ice, in the weight room, in the classroom, whatever you’re doing.”