by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Bryan Jungles is one of the main reasons the Rogers Royals have high hopes for this hockey season.
One of 11 seniors who’ve played together since grade school, Jungles was team MVP and scoring leader – with 14 goals and 24 assists – on last year’s 22-9, section runner-up, conference champion team.
The sturdy forward has delivered three goals and seven assists for the Royals, (6-4) who won the Schwan Cup Bronze Division this week. He notched the game-tying goal from the top of the circle in a 3-2 win over Mounds View in the finals at the Xcel Center.
Jungles, a co-captain this year along with Neal Smith, after being an assistant captain as a junior, is one of those athletes regarded as a “rock” for his strength and dependability.
“Bryan is very strong on the puck. It’s very difficult to remove him from the puck,” said Royal coach Tim Marchand. “He’s good at working the puck down low. He always has good, solid position. He knows where to be on the ice.”
The coach added: “Bryan is a phenomenal student, not only of hockey but in the classroom, too. He’s close to a 4.0 average.
Jungles, asked what the team needs from him, said, “To be a leader out there, be a motivator, give encouragement.” As for scoring, he said, “I’ve typically been more of a passer.”
Jungles has skated with some solid players:Zach Hnath and Spencer Marchand this year, and Andrew Smith and Chad Miller last year.
“Bryan has always been more of a playmaker, but I think he is just warming up and he’s going to get some goals,” said Marchand. “He led us in scoring last year.”
A three-year starter, he had six goals and nine assists on a 15-9-3 team his sophomore year. At this point he’s got 23 goals and 40 assists in his career, for teams that have gone 43-22-3. He has been part of a conference champion team each of his first two seasons.
A hockey player since kindergarten, Jungles hopes to continue next year, probably at St. John’s.
The Royals reached the section finals last year and got drubbed 5-0 by Hermantown, the eventual state runners-up. In a rematch with the No. 3 ranked Hawks at home on Dec. 17, the Royals led 1-0 in the third period and lost 2-1, so they appear to have closed the gap, and hope to get another shot at the Hawks in February.
This winter is the season Jungles and his longtime cohorts, who are backed up by some solid juniors and sophs, have been pointing toward since grade school.
“Our goal is to go to the state tournament,” Jungles said. “We had a rough start this year, but I think we are on track now.”
THE JUNGLES SCORECARD
Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents Kevin and Lisa; brother Brad, 20 … Sport: hockey … Other activities: National Honor Society … Academics: 3.95 GPA … College plans: probably St. John’s, Biology major, hockey
Favorite stuff – Class: math … TV show: “Family Guy” … Movie: “Dodgeball” … Food: chicken alfredo at Olive Garden … Drink: orange juice … Team: Wild … Athlete: Mikko Koivu … Music: country western … Kickbacks: hunting deer and pheasants, fishing …. Place he’d like to visit: Alaska