Jr. | D | Evergreen, Colo.
Jake Sparks led College Hockey America defensemen
with 12 power-play points in 2005-06.
Key Statistics: After
scoring a goal and an assist in 17 games during an injury-plagued
freshman campaign, Sparks contributed 4-14–18
last season, good for seventh among College Hockey America
defensemen in points.
What He Does: Head coach
Derek Schooley felt his charges realized they were no
longer a new Division I program about halfway through
the year, as evidenced by the Colonials' 4-11-1 record
prior to Jan. 1 and the squad's 8-9-2 mark after New
Year's Day. Sparks was fairly consistent throughout
the season, but his strong showing down the stretch
(1-8–9 in RMU's last 10 games) mirrored the play
of the team as a whole. A smart hockey player with a
good shot, he became an integral part of the Colonials'
power play attack – his 12 points with the man
advantage was tops in the CHA for a blueliner.
The Bigger Picture: It's
hard to think of the upstart Colonials as a veteran
bunch, but this year's roster boasts four seniors and
15 juniors. Schooley fully expects his team to carry
the momentum from the last half of last season into
2006-07 and improve on the 12-20-3 mark of a year ago,
and with good reason. The upperclassmen who form the
foundation for the young RMU program will be expected
to play like juniors and seniors – poised, confident
and smart. Sparks will be counted on to continue to
grow into his role as the team's primary offensive threat
from the blue line and top power-play quarterback (no
other Colonial rearguard reached double digits in points
last season). Another 16-point jump in production is
unlikely, but doubling his goal total from a year ago
and flirting with the 20-assist plateau isn't out of
Robert Morris head coach Derek
Schooley on Sparks: "Jake matured and
grew as a hockey player. He figured out how to be a
player at this level. Now it's time for [Jake and his
teammates] to take the next steep and see where they
can lead us."