CEDAR RAPIDS — Your primary “suspect” is Ben Kinne.
He’s an obvious one, being a proud graduate of Bemidji State University. Kinne captained the Beavers as a senior.
But the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders assistant coach pleads ignorance on this one.
“I had nothing to do with it,” he said.
Yeah, it appears it’s strictly happenstance that the RoughRiders, who play Chicago at home Friday night and host Dubuque on Saturday night, have three players who have committed to play college hockey at Bemidji. Not just three players, but three defensemen.
Not just three defensemen, but three left-shot defensemen. You never, ever see that.
“Yeah, three ‘D’ going to the same place is pretty cool,” said Tyler Jubenvill.
He’s one of the three Bemjidi-bound Riders. The others are Will Zmolek and Kyle Looft.
There are your three left defensemen for Cedar Rapids most nights. At some point in the next couple of years, they’ll likely be Bemidji State’s three left defensemen.
“Will’s got good size and competes, does a real good job on the penalty kill,” said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. “He’s right out of high school hockey, so he’s continuing to improve. A good character guy. Kyle Looft, there are a lot of similarities. Right out of high school, too. A real strong character guy, skates well, does a good job on the kill.
“Juby’s got a little more experience because he played two years of junior in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He’s done a good job on the power play there for us. They’re all getting better, they all want to get better, they’re all coachable, they all move the puck fairly well. They’ve just got to continue to improve.”
Carlson said their development will determine when Bemidji takes them. There’s a possibility you could see all three playing multiple seasons with the RoughRiders.
Looft is 19 years old and Zmolek 18. Jubenvill just turned 18 in late November.
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Looft was acquired in a trade from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, while Zmolek’s brother, Riese, captained last season’s RoughRiders team and is a freshman at Minnesota State. Jubenvill is from Gilbert Plains, Manitoba.
And don’t forget this connection. Travis Winter is an assistant coach at Bemidji.
He is a former RoughRiders assistant. There is your likely “suspect” in getting the trio to go to the same school.
“I think everyone has their different strengths and everything,” Jubenvill said. “I’d say Kyle is a really physical guy. I mean, I try and play physical, but I think he does a little better at it than I do.”