JANESVILLE – The Janesville Jets have tendered the playing rights of forwards Jack Gates and Collin Rutherford, securing their services for the 2015-2016 season.
Gates, a 1998-born winger from Oceanside, California, is finishing a remarkable season with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL). Through 21 games, Gates leads the NAPHL in scoring at 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points. He was selected to the NAPHL 16U All-Star Game in November, where he tallied a goal and an assist.
Jets assistant coach Erik Largen was quick to praise Gates’ offensive abilities.
“Jack is a very quick and explosive player who possesses a high level of compete and skill,” Largen said of Gates, who has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Colorado College in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. “Although small in size, he plays in traffic and dirty areas and is able to consistently win battles for pucks. We look for him to continue his ability to produce points and make his linemates better at the NAHL level next season.”
Gates said he hopes to bring a two-way game to the Jets’ forward group.
“Yeah, I’m hoping to bring some offensive presence and help make some big plays offensively,” he said. “But I also want to stay defensively minded as well, and help out on both ends.”
Rutherford is a 1997-born product of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL). The forward from Tonawanda, New York has scored six times on 11 points through 19 games this season. Rutherford says what attracted him to the Jets was the work Largen and third-year head coach Joe Dibble have done getting their players Division-I scholarships.
“Janesville’s doing very well this year promoting guys to the next level,” Rutherford said. “They’ve got a lot of D-I commitments over the past few years. That’s something I’m looking forward to about next year, hoping that I can get noticed and move up to that next level.”
Like Gates, Rutherford also drew acclaim from Largen, specifically concerning his offensive upside.
“Collin is a very smart and skilled hockey player,” said Largen. “He consistently makes others around him better and works extremely hard to create space for himself and other players. He possesses a scoring touch around the net and sees the ice very well Collin is a great talent and we believe he will fit in very well on the Jets hockey club next season.”
Scoring support from rookies like Kip Hoffmann and Zach Solow has been a crucial part of the Jets’ success this season. With reliable scoring forwards Zach LaValle and Dan Kucerovy aging out of the NAHL next year, the Jets will be counting on Gates and Rutherford to step in and contribute. Dibble acknowledged that earlier this season.
“We’ve had to rebuild every year since I’ve been here,” said Dibble. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or if you’re 20. If you can play the game and if you’re a good teammate, we’re gonna give you an opportunity. For us, it’s gonna be, “what are you gonna bring to the table to help the team win?””