December 31, 2010

California native on track to topple Wentworth scoring record

by Chris Carlson

Skylur Jameson eyes the Wentworth scoring record.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Skylur Jameson hadn’t thought about the Wentworth points record until some teammates brought it up last season.

Now that he knows, his coach has no doubt about Jameson’s intentions.

“Knowing the type of kid he is, I’m sure he knows the exact number,” Wentworth coach R.J. Tolan said, “and he wants to wind up at least one higher.”

Just over two years into his career and already 10th on the school’s all-time list, Jameson won’t be so bold.

“My coach doesn’t talk about it, but some of the older guys that have graduated have mentioned it,” said Jameson, who entered the season on pace to break the mark. “I didn’t know what it was. My linemate last year told me what it was.”

After helping Wentworth to two of its better seasons in the school’s 18-year history during his freshman and sophomore seasons, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior center simply wants to shake off a slow start by the Leopards and duplicate those winning records.

The Leopards won 38 games in Jameson’s first two years, making it to the ECAC Northeast championship game two years ago and the semifinals last season after winning the regular-season championship.

Despite Jameson’s continued success — he had 10 points through six games by late November — the Leopards went into their break at just 2-3-1 (1-1-1 in the league).

Although Jameson still has a ways to go to reach Ivan Filippov’s total of 179 points, the Long Beach, Calif., native has already covered plenty of ground in his hockey career. At press time, he had 101 points, with 41 goals and 60 assists in 59 games.

“I don’t know if I ever thought when I took over (five years ago) that a captain and Player of the Year here would be from Long Beach,” said Tolan, who grew up in Waltham, Mass., and was a four-year defenseman at UMass-Lowell a decade ago.

Taking hockey seriously in California took significant effort.

While hockey was seen as a major sport, and the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in Los Angeles in 1988 helped create a boom in rink building, the sport wasn’t exactly on par with football, baseball and basketball.

Once Jameson left the youth leagues, finding competitive games sometimes took the better part of a week, sending him to Michigan or Chicago.

Travel forced him to start his weekends as early as Thursday, as the family chased down competition. While many teenagers have trouble getting work done on time, Jameson had to get his in early on a weekly basis.

Other athletes — particularly baseball, football and basketball players — got passes for missing tests and quizzes, but Jameson had to make his up ahead of time or, occasionally, pretend he’d been sick instead of playing hockey.

“My last year of midgets, I’d be gone pretty much every other week, Thursday through Sunday,” Jameson said. “I wouldn’t say it was for tournaments; I’d say something else.”

Offseason shooting practice meant blasting pucks off plastic sheets rather than ice, and he learned to stickhandle with a golf ball.

Considered a lower-tier Division 1 prospect or a Division 3 player, Jameson had his heart set on attending Northeastern, but all the school could offer was the chance to walk on and Jameson put academics ahead of playing hockey at the higher level.

Because he couldn’t afford Northeastern’s tuition without some scholarship money, he turned to Wentworth in the same city, which offered a chance to play, along with his preferred engineering major, where he’s currently earning straight A’s.

Seen for most of his career as a gritty, defensive forward — Jameson played defense at times for the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the North American Hockey League when the team was hit by injuries — Wentworth has offered him a chance to flourish offensively. He’s usually one of the first two players into the offensive zone and traditionally sets up teammates, creating chances with his stick-handling, which he views as a strength.

Tolan sees him as a competitor who simply exceeds expectations by a little bit in every category, adding up to a big bonus.

“He’s one of those kids who is a little smarter, a little stronger, a little faster and competes a little harder than people think,” Tolan said. “We’ve been pretty good since he got here, and he’s been on our top line the whole time. As far as a kid who competes and is a leader and will not let us lose, I don’t think I’ve ever had a kid like him.”

For that reason, it’s not hard to envision Jameson breaking the record.

While his teammates want to see Jameson get the individual mark, he’s just worried about Wentworth’s league mark. Getting the Leopards back on track will take plenty of goals.

“I want to win the championship one of these years,” Jameson said. “It’s something I haven’t been able to do for a while. Each game, I try to make sure I get some points because that’s my role. In the back of my mind, I want to get as high as I can. But if I have to make a hit, I’m not going to avoid it and hope that I can score. As long as I’m helping our team win, that’s the most important.”

Chris Carlson can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com