Cole Paskus finished his senior year at Madison West High School with some pretty impressive numbers.
In 24 games he amassed a conference high 38 goals to go along with 25 assists for 63 points. The only person with more points in the conference was Ty Pelton-Byce, who was Player of the Year in the Big Eight.
He also was an All-State Honorable Mention and a member of Team Wisconsin.
Paskus signed a tender offer from the Janesville Jets in the NAHL and made the team out of camp.
So the season starts; time to play.
But he's a healthy scratch.
"The transition from high school to junior hockey is big," said Paskus. "I wasn't expecting it to be as hard as it was. Guys were so much bigger and faster."
Paskus was gonna do what he had to do to get in the lineup.
"I knew this was what I wanted to do."
So Cole goes into Jets Coach Joe Dibble's office to find out.
And the answer?
"Be a student of the game," said Paskus. "Work on my hockey IQ."
So Paskus observed some guys at the NHL level.
"I focused on small things that I could bring to my game."
Paskus observed many things and learned a lot and was put in the line up. His moment where he was able to start making headway was during the Jets' Alaska road trip. Points started coming, but yet Paskus wasn't worrying about points.
"I wasn't focusing on the points, but the team aspect of it," said Paskus. "With that the points started coming."
The second half of the season saw Paskus as a regular in the lineup. While learning to be a '200 foot player,' as coaches call it , Paskus scored a goal that may have been the biggest of the season.
Paskus was out on the penalty kill against Springfield in a scoreless game late in the second period. The goalie came out to play the puck and played it to the middle of the ice. Paskus gloved it, got off a shot before the goal could be defended and scored the goal.
It was the only goal of the game.
Janesville got a 1-0 win in a game that helped them get a playoff spot.
When the season ended, Cole had put up 13 goals and 13 assists in 49 games. And along with it came some rewards for his play. From his teammates it was the Most Improved Award.
"It meant a lot to get that from those guys," said Paskus "They voted on it and noticed the hard work I put in."
"It really was an honor."
But that wasn't the only award.
Paskus also received a Midwest Division All-Rookie Team spot.
"What Cole is doing is what we hoped for, and he's worked for," said Coach Dibble. "Things are starting to go his way and he's earned it."
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