A Special Homecoming for Josh Jacobs

Just off the banks of the Clinton River, at the corner of Dequindre and Parkingdale roads, lies the Onyx Rochester Ice Arena, the home rink of freshman defenseman Josh Jacobs.

After starting skating at two and playing in house leagues at five, Jacobs became a member of the Rochester Rattlers at age 11. It was the first time he was a member of a travel team.

“I couldn’t have been here now without that team,” Jacobs said. “The head coach there [Ryan Pardoski] was my mentor since I’ve been here and he will be even though he is a Michigan guy. He’s done a lot for me.”

Jacobs credits Pardoski for teaching him the game both on and off the ice, something he has never forgotten. Coincidentally, Pardoski was a 1986 draft pick of the New Jersey Devils, the team that just drafted Jacobs in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft.

This past weekend, friends and family members were able to watch Jacobs practice back home at the Onyx, this time as a member of the Spartans.

Michigan State, who did not have a game last weekend, went through some team building exercises which took the players to Grand Rapids, Joe Louis Arena and to Jacobs’ home rink in preparation of opening night Friday against UMass.

“I definitely had some flashbacks during practice and after practice. Just walking in and then seeing some of the banners of my team and my name on them brought back a lot of good memories,” Jacobs said.

“The best memories were creating new friends and creating a team basically. I never really was part of a competitive team until then and going to back and the memories of winning states, winning district championships with them, it was an unbelievable experience.”

While the trip did not distract him from what is to come Friday night, it was a special day before, arguably, one of the most exciting games to date in his hockey career.

“It’s going to be a dream come true,” he said. “Growing up at a young age, I’ve always had Sparty in my blood, in my DNA, and being a Spartan now means everything for me. Now that it’s here, now that it’s happening in the present, it’s going to be an unbelievable experience.”

Brian Bobal is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports