Jake Bischoff Commits

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College choice no surprise for Grand Rapids hockey player

When Jake Bischoff was about 3 years old, he was selected to shoot pucks at the net for a between-periods promotion at a Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey game.

In another couple years or so, Bischoff will be doing that during games.

It’s no surprise that the Grand Rapids junior defenseman, whose father played four seasons for the Gophers, committed to Minnesota when the opportunity arose last November.

“I’ve been a Gopher fan my whole life and it’s been a dream to play there ever since I was a young kid,” he said before the Thunderhawks beat Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 3-2 in a nonconference game Tuesday at Cloquet Area Recreation Center.

Bischoff’s hopes were confirmed after he toured the Minneapolis campus and met the coaches and players.

“I thought it would be a nice fit,” he said. He won’t be able to sign a letter of intent until his senior year.

Grant Bischoff, 43, scored 80 goals as a winger from 1987-91, meaning Jake grew up surrounded by plenty of Gophers memorabilia. That included pictures of him with Goldy, the team mascot, shooting pucks during that contest.

“We took a lot of photos of him being a Gopher fan when he was a little kid,” Grant said. “So he probably said it best when he said this is a dream come true for him.”

The elder Bischoff says he didn’t pressure his son to choose Minnesota over Minnesota Duluth or Notre Dame —his other finalists.

“I wanted to let him make his own choice,” he said. “But he did grow up going to Gopher games, so he was a Gopher fan right out of the chute. He’s very comfortable going to the ‘U’ and it will be very fun for me to follow it as well. It’s pretty neat that he’s going to the same school I did.”

Grant Bischoff, a self-employed real estate appraiser with Bischoff Appraisals, still owns season tickets but isn’t likely to take in Minnesota’s game against Colorado College as part of Hockey Day festivities Saturday due to other commitments. Grand Rapids kicks off the daylong celebration with a game against White Bear Lake at 10 a.m. at Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka. The three high school contests were moved indoors due to an unseasonably warm winter.

“It’s unfortunate it has to go indoors, which I suppose takes a little of the luster off, but it’s still televised and just to be a part of that is a great thing,” Thunderhawks coach Bruce LaRoque said.

LaRoque said he’s excited that Bischoff chose to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“Grant was probably a little faster, but Jake is smooth,” LaRoque said. “He’s very knowledgeable of the game and sees the ice exceptionally well. He’s one of those players who make others better. He’s seeing the play almost two passes (before they happen).”

Perhaps his maturity on the ice is related to his maturity off it. Jake’s mother, Jackie, died in November 2010 after a short battle with breast cancer, leaving him and his dad to raise two younger sisters and a 14-year-old brother.

“With me being the oldest, I had to take charge of my younger siblings and drive them around,” Jake said of his three hockey-playing siblings. “My dad and I definitely have become a lot closer just trying to get through this tough time.”

His father agrees: “We were always very tight-knit, but I suppose the bond is (stronger) between the kids and I. (Cancer) is a curveball that nobody wants to deal with, but we had to and we’re doing pretty well as a group.”

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