Jake Bischoff and the Chicago Wolves travel Friday to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a 6 p.m. tilt with the reigning Calder Cup champion Griffins.
Ironically, Bischoff’s hometown and his next game locale share a namesake.
During high school in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Bischoff earned the inaugural Reed Larson Award presented to the top senior boys high school defenseman in Minnesota. The award is based on the combination of academics, community and extracurricular activities, citizenship, coachability and on-ice performance.
In addition, Bischoff closed out his four-year college career at the University of Minnesota as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for the 2016-17 campaign.
Now in his first full season of professional play, the 23-year-old is ready for the next step in his career:
JB: I don’t think there was any reason, really. I was just told to play it one game and everything else sort of fell into place at a young age.
Q: Youngest hockey memories that inspired you to play hockey?
JB: My dad played hockey for University of Minnesota and we had season tickets. So when I was growing up, I always went to the games and wanted to be a Gopher since I was little.
Q: You were a great baseball player in high school as well. What made you choose hockey?
JB: I love baseball. If I were playing, I think I would be a catcher just because you are involved in every play. It was always my dream just to play hockey for the Gophers and it was tough to leave baseball.
Q: You were traded from the New York Islanders organization this past summer. Describe those feelings that day.
JB: Totally shocked. To be honest, it was the last thing I expected. I just signed a two-year contract with them a few months back. I think I got the call when I was watching a movie and (Islanders general manager) Garth Snow popped up on my phone and he just told me the news. It was really a wild day, but I am obviously happy to be here now. In the moment, though, it is crazy. Being traded totally changes your life.
Q: What part defensively are you trying to better your game right now with the Wolves?
JB: Just be harder on pucks. Harder in the corners and in battles. Adding a more physical and tough element to my game so I am harder to play against.
Q: Is there anyone you model your game after?
JB: Alex Goligoski (defenseman for Arizona Coyotes). I watched him as a kid a lot. He played at my high school as well, so that is when I started watching him play. He also played for the Gophers, too, so I got to watch more of him.