Crookston senior Ryan Edevold is pleased with the hiring of Joel Gasper as Pirate head boys' hockey coach.

This year I had the pleasure of graduating my high school hockey career coached by John Bittner, but as I graduated, so did he.  Mr. Bittner had been coaching the Pirates for 6 years.  During that time I couldn’t imagine anyone else as head coach of the Pirates, because in my 4 years playing, he’s all I have known.  After my teammates and I heard about the retirement of Mr. Bittner, we all started guessing who we thought the new coach would be. We all said the same thing, “hopefully it’s Joel”.

Joel Gasper was a new assistant coach at the beginning of the season, but after that one-year, we all knew he was the man for the job.  He has a lot of the same qualities that I have seen in Mr. Bittner, like earning the respect from players, great knowledge of the game and being able to get the very best out of his players.

Another thing about Gasper that gives the Pirates an advantage is that he has played at almost every level of hockey. He has played high school, juniors, college, and pro, something that not too many people can do and almost nobody from Crookston has accomplished.  Not only has Gasper played in those levels, but he also wants his future players to do the same. Mr. Bittner has worked hard to find junior’s teams for players to try out for after their high school careers in hopes of producing players who will play at the Division 1 level and beyond.  Gasper has that same goal and dream. The more kids playing at high levels of hockey will help the program grow because success of alumni gets the future excited about the possibilities of the game.

I have been in the Warroad locker room and when you walk in you realize you’re in the presence of greatness. Warroad has had the Christian brothers, TJ Oshie, Brock Nelson, and the list goes on and on.  The dream I have for Pirate hockey is that in 20 years players feel the same as when I walked in to Warroad’ s locker room; that they are in the presence of greatness.  I think in time Gasper could be the coach who brings our program to the state tournament and gets players to one day make it the NHL.

Edevold, a senior at CHS, is a student is Toni Grove’s communications class.