Jack Works had himself a season to remember with the Denver University Pioneers, one that culminated with a national championship in men’s hockey.
But those days in Denver are now gone and he’s about to start a new chapter in his hockey career in a much different place.
The 21-year-old from Yellowknife has joined the men’s squad at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Michigan after transferring from Denver during the off-season. The decision to move was all up to Works after the school made some overtures to him.
“They came to me and asked if I’d be interested in making the move,” he said. “It was down to me and I made the decision to go there. It was hard to leave Denver, but I’m excited to be here and hopefully get a chance to show what I can do. It was a chance to get some more ice time and a good opportunity.”
Works spent two seasons in Denver after receiving a full-ride scholarship from the school in 2019. He was playing with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League at the time he signed on, but didn’t make the jump to university hockey until the remainder of the 2019-2020 campaign was cancelled due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last season was a rough one for Works as he only dressed for 10 games, mostly due to a combination of illness and injuries. He did, however, get the chance to join the team for the on-ice celebrations in Boston after Denver won the NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship, known as the Frozen Four, this past April by beating Minnesota State.
Works got a good look at Michigan Tech during the Pioneers’ playoff run last season as both teams were part of the West regional tournament that determined who would move on to the national championship.
He said their style of play was a big drawing point.
“They play an aggressive style and they’re a good fore-checking club,” he said. “That’s how I like to play and I think I fit into their system well.”
Another thing Works won’t have to worry about is the altitude. Denver is known as the Mile High City because it sits close to 1,524 metres (5,000 feet) above sea level, meaning the air is much thinner.
He won’t have that problem in Michigan.
“Playing in Denver took some getting used to because you could feel it,” he said. “I felt the difference right away. It’s a lot like Yellowknife, in a way: not a big place, cold winters, not as cold as Yellowknife, but still cold enough.”
The Michigan squad started training camp earlier this month and their first pre-season game is scheduled for Oct. 1 versus Lake Superior State. They’ll open the regular season on the road against state rivals Ferris State University on Oct. 7.