UND MEN'S HOCKEY: Strong UND ties for Areshenko
When Bemidji State defenseman Jake Areshenko visits his grandparents, he can't help but notice all of the UND stuff around. There's good reason for it. Areshenko's grandfather is Dave Gunther, who coached the Sioux men's basketball team to more t...
When Bemidji State defenseman Jake Areshenko visits his grandparents, he can't help but notice all of the UND stuff around.
There's good reason for it.
Areshenko's grandfather is Dave Gunther, who coached the Sioux men's basketball team to more than 300 victories in 18 seasons from 1970-88. Gunther led UND to three straight appearances at the NCAA Division II Elite Eight and was inducted into the UND Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987.
"To be honest, he doesn't really talk about it much," said Areshenko, a sophomore. "He's a quieter guy when it comes to that stuff. But my mom and my mom's sister and grandma tell me how he was a pretty big deal and even the students liked him when they used to watch. He was a pretty intense coach."
Gunther is the strongest of several UND ties for Areshenko.
His father, Jerry, served as a graduate assistant coach for the Sioux football team before getting a job at Jamestown College. Jerry, who grew up in Alberta, played at Valley City State.
While playing junior hockey in Fargo, Areshenko billeted with former Sioux football player Steve Johnson, while playing under former UND coach Dean Blais and assistants Steve Johnson (a different one) and Jason Herter, both former Sioux players.
"A lot of UND ties," Areshenko said, laughing. "My grandpa and grandma's house has UND stuff all over, so I have to give them some crap every once in a while to get some more Bemidji State stuff in there."
This weekend will mark the first time that Areshenko has played against the Sioux in Ralph Engelstad Arena (3:37 p.m. Saturday, 3:37 p.m. Sunday). It will be a special moment for Areshenko, who grew up far from the area, but made several summer visits.
"I'm getting pretty excited about it," said Areshenko, who will have a handful of family members on hand this weekend.
Born in Jamestown and raised in Port Cocquitlan, B.C., as the grandson of a basketball coach and the son of a football coach, Areshenko chose a different path. He started playing hockey at a young age.
"That's Canada's deal," he said. "All my friends played hockey and my dad didn't have any clue about it. He never played. It was something that they threw me into and it just kind of blossomed from there.
"It was kind of funny. I always wanted to play football like my dad. My parents said I had to wait until high school to play. By the time high school came around, hockey took up so much time that I never got to play."
Areshenko played for Burnaby and Powell River in the British Columbia Junior League before going to Fargo and the United States Hockey League. Once he started with the Force, recruiting attention picked up.
"I talked to a couple of schools, but Bemidji was the one I was really excited about," Areshenko said. "Back when Bemidji used to have a hockey camp in the summer, I actually went to that before they closed it down. I used to come to Bemidji and hang out with my grandparents in the summer and I knew the town.
"It's ironic how it all happened. All of the sudden, I'm talking to Bemidji and going to school there."
As a freshman, Areshenko had no goals, three assists and a plus-11 rating. He was named to the College Hockey America all-rookie team.
This year, he scored his first-career goal against his junior coach, Blais, and the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. He also has five assists in 29 games.
This is Bemidji State's first season in the new 4,373-seat Sanford Center and the first in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
"It's been a good transition into the WCHA," Areshenko said. "It's a learning experience for the whole team. I think the first couple of games were definitely something we weren't used to. But I think we've improved over the year."
Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .