Stewart Makes A Name For Himself
by Joshua Berhow/CHN Writer
by Joshua Berhow/CHN Writer
Jerad Stewart’s name is never going to be confused with Justin Fontaine’s. Fontaine is one of the WCHA’s most prolific scorers, and Stewart is one of the WCHA’s best grinders.
They both, however, are the only players in the conference with a four-goal game this season, and both even added an assist in the game for a rare five-point performance. Fontaine’s four-goal outburst against Michigan Tech Nov. 14 is undoubtedly impressive, but it is Stewart’s four goals against Alaska-Anchorage on Friday that stands out.
While Fontaine, a junior forward at Minnesota-Duluth with 30 career goals and 80 career points in 91 games, is more of a finesse scorer for the high-powered Bulldogs, Stewart plays a different role for Minnesota State. The role Stewart plays for the Mavericks is perhaps the reason why the Hastings, Minn., native’s feat is more notable, especially since he’s never scored more than seven goals in a single season.
“This year we’ve asked more of him,” said Mavericks coach Troy Jutting. “We’re asking him to do more for us in that area and he’s obviously doing that.”
Unlike Fontaine, Stewart hasn’t had as prolific of a scoring career at the collegiate level.
“We have completely different styles,” Stewart said. “He’s a real skilled guy and I like to think of myself as a power forward.”
“They are completely different players,” he said. “Jerad is a more physical type of player who’s going to work hard and be hard to play against. He was one of those kids who came straight out of high school. He’s a senior but he’s as old as a lot of sophomores in our league and I think he’s really starting to find his stride right now.”
Stewart’s appeared in 117 games over his four-year career with the Mavericks and has accumulated just 20 career goals even after last weekend’s four, giving him 36 career points. He is second on the Mavericks in shots (31) and leads the team with nine points. He was also named the WCHA's Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his four-goal effort.
Stewart had just one goal on the season prior to the matchup against the Seawolves, and it came on his second shot of the season.
“I didn’t know what was going on, why I couldn’t bury it,” Stewart said. “I stayed positive though and kept trying to do the little things. Having a game like that is a huge relief.”
Stewart has played in at least 32 games every year at Minnesota State and is known for his strong defensive play. He skates on one of the Mavericks’ top lines and has been a mainstay on the penalty kill since his arrival four years ago.
“He’s an extremely good all-around hockey player,” Jutting said. “He’s physical and he does a great job on the penalty kill for us. He’s been very good defensively over the years and I’m happy for him that he’s starting to produce offensively for us.”
It was pretty good timing for Stewart’s game, too. The Mavericks entered the series with the Seawolves in last place in the WCHA and on a four-game winless streak, including one win in their last eight games.
After dropping Saturday’s game to the Seawolves the Mavericks returned to Mankato with a two-point weekend, enough for them to barely crawl out of the WCHA cellar. They host Michigan Tech this weekend.
Stewart will be in the lineup Friday and Saturday against the Huskies, and while another four-goal, five-point game is unlikely, his coach says he'll still make an impact on the ice.
“That’s what makes Jerad such a good player,” Jutting said. “He’s an extremely effective hockey player even when he doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. And when he does it just adds that much more to his game.”
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