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Greater Grand Forks boys hockey preview: East Grand Forks' Jaksen Panzer ready for high school season after taste of juniors

Panzer scored five goals and had 13 assists in 16 games in his NAHL stint this season.

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Delano goaltender Drew Dorsey stops a shot from Green Wave forward Jaksen Panzer (17) in the second period of a matinee boy's hockey game at the East Grand Forks Civic Center on Saturday, November 27, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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East Grand Forks’ Jaksen Panzer spent the first part of his hockey season in Minot, playing in the North American Hockey League for the Minot Minotauros.

After 16 games, the UND hockey prospect is now back with East Grand Forks and ready to use his additional seasoning to lead the Green Wave.

Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno said he’s noticed a difference in Panzer’s explosiveness and leadership since rejoining East Grand Forks.

“I think he’s always been explosive, but he’s found another gear coming up the ice,” Palmiscno said. "The other thing is his leadership has been fantastic. He knows he's a leader and has taken his leadership off the ice very seriously."

Playing junior hockey in the fall, then rejoining the high school hockey ranks has been a growing trend among prospects.

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"I think he gets the best of both worlds," Palmiscno said. "It's becoming more common. It was important for him to come back to high school, and we appreciate that. At the same time, he was able to get junior hockey experience and get his feet wet there. Now, he can go back to Sioux Falls (United States Hockey League) or Minot (NAHL) when the season is over, which is great for him."

In Minot, Panzer played in all 16 games while there and saw power-play time, finishing with five goals and 13 assists.

"I knew coming back would be right for me," Panzer said. "I saw what it was like to play juniors. I staked every day there, so I knew when I came here I'd be in midseason form. I felt the best coming into this season conditioning-wise and shape-wise. Just the speed and strength was the biggest thing I noticed (in Minot). I know I got a little faster in that league. I developed more as a man than a kid."

The Green Wave have a new look this year, losing standouts Landon Parker and Trey Ausmus off last year's state tournament team.

"We have a lot of young guys on our team this year," Panzer said. "They're going to be looking to our direction (as older players) as what to do in big situations."

East Grand Forks fell short of a state championship last season, losing in the semifinals of the tournament.

"I felt like I had unfinished business with the state tournament," Panzer said. "I wanted to come back, and I knew these guys were counting on me to come back and help."

EGF Senior High at a glance

Coach: Tyler Palmiscno.

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2020-21 record: 14-9, lost to Gentry Academy in the Minnesota Class A state semifinals.

Key returners: Jr. F Jaksen Panzer 14 goals, 22 assists; jr. F Caleb Schmiedeberg 11G-5A; soph. Grady Magner 5G-13A; sr. Zach Stocker 3G-9A; sr. D Justin Overgaard 1G-5A; sr. F Seth Aker 3G-1A.

Top newcomers: Soph. F Brock Schultz; jr. D Sam Frost; soph. F Landon Jamieson.

Coach Palmiscno says: “I think we lost a lot of guys off last year’s state tournament team, so we have a lot of fresh faces and young guys and even some of our older guys are inexperienced. There’s only one way to gain experience and that’s to play and get better. Our work ethic has been really good so far. I’m excited to see what the next 12 weeks hold.”

GF Red River at a glance

Coach: Tim Skarperud.

2020-21 record: 19-6, lost to Grand Forks Central in state championship.

Key returners: Jr. F Carter Sproule 12 goals-16 assists; sr. D Wyatt LeDuc 5G-15A; jr. F Mikey Coleman 9G-6A; jr. F Mason Reynolds 10G-5A; sr. D Cooper Freije 2G-12A; sr. D-F Jake Grandstrand 6G-8A; jr. F RyLee Vetsch 3G-4A; jr. F Dillon Jackson 1G-2A; jr. D Mason Stroh 2G-0A; jr. F Carson Skarperud 1G-1A; jr. D Garrett Eickman 0G-1A; sr. D Ethan Dockter 1G-0A; sr. G Noah Burger 82.1 save percentage, 4.67 goals-against average, 1-2 record.

Top newcomers: Soph. D Mason Ray; soph. F Thomas Peterson; jr. F Zach Laframboise; sr. F Skyler Syverson; soph. F Grant Gardner; jr. F Bet Tellman.

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Coach Skarperud says: “You try to find your identity at the start of the year and hopefully it’s a hard-working, blue-collar mentality.”

GF Central at a glance

Coach: Grant Paranica.

2020-21 record: 22-2-1, beat Grand Forks Red River in state championship.

Key returners: Sr. F Dom Gerszewski 16 goals-6 assists; sr. D Dillon Kuntz 3G-19A; sr. F Connor Litzinger 4G-12A; sr. F Hunter Anderson 2G-8A; jr. F Colton Bjorge 4G-2A; jr. F Bryce Philpot 4G-0A; jr. F Cole Barta 1G-3A; jr. F Rylan Hoffman 1G-3A; jr. F-D Wyatt Wockenfuss 1G-2A; sr. D Kyle Fulton 0G-1A; sr. F Brady McGarry 1G-0A; sr. G Jack Jahnke.

Top newcomers: Soph. F Caden Johansen; fr. F Donovan Balek; soph. D Cale Quamme; jr. D Jacob Gerszewski; soph. D Brody Kendall; jr. F Cade Lindseth; soph. F A.J. Spicer; soph. F Even Panzer; jr. D Kyle Shawstad; soph. G Jaxon Washburn.

Coach Paranica says: “We have big shoes to fill with the graduation of 11 seniors, including our two-year starter in goal and nearly 75 percent of our scoring from last season. With 10 new faces in our lineup on any given night, it’s exciting to watch as players compete to earn their roles, leaders emerge and the identity of this team takes shape. We’ll rely on our handful of seniors to lead the way in the early going, as our younger players gain experience competing at the high school level.”

Related Topics: HOCKEYPREP SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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