Former Havre Ice Hawks Trevor Jensen, front left, and Dustin Armstrong, front right, are joined by Glacier Nationals head coach Kyle Bailey, back left, and general manager Butch Kowalka Tuesday afternoon at the Havre Ice Dome. Jensen and Armstrong, recent graduatesa of Havre High and the Ice Hawks youth hockey program, signed to play for the Nationals this fall.
The Glacier Nationals, a member of the North American Tier 3 Hockey League, announced the signing of two Havre hockey players Tuesday as Dustin Armstrong and Trevor Jensen both signed with the team for the 2014-15 season.
The Nationals are a pay-for-play junior hockey franchise that relocated to Havre for the upcoming season after being in Kalispell previously. The program is designed to develop young players and give them an opportunity to play high-level junior or college hockey.
Armstrong and Jensen both played for the Havre Ice Hawks last season and graduated from Havre High School. Both players play the forward position and are happy to be continuing their hockey career.
"The best thing is just being able to keep playing," Jensen said. "I want to try and go with hockey as far as it will take me but for now I am just happy to keep playing and be part of a team again."
Jensen was also an All-State football player for the Blue Ponies last fall.
The Nationals recruit players from across the country and even in Europe in some cases. Yet, the team also takes a keen interest in developing local talent and took advantage of the opportunity to add two talented, local players to the roster.
"There is a normal scouting process that we go through," said Nationals' general manager Butch Kowalka. "We try to bring in the most talented players that we possibly can and (Dustin and Trevor) were the two that were recommended to us by local people."
The level of competition will be much higher playing for a tier 3 junior hockey team as compared to high school, so there will undoubtedly be an adjustment period for both Jensen and Armstrong.
"This is definitely going to be a big step up for them, so I expect there to be a bit of learning curve," Kowalka said. "Trevor is a talented player and Dustin is a grinder. That's all that you can really ask for at the junior level is to get kids that are going to work hard and give it their all. Both of these guys will do that."
Jensen and Armstrong should be the first of many Havre players that will end up playing for the Nationals because one of the key parts of their program is developing and coordinating with Havre Youth Hockey.
"It won't happen right away, but eventually we want young hockey players in Havre to want to play for the Nationals," Kowalka said. "More than likely, local kids will eventually start skating with us, and we try to nurture young players as much as we possibly can."
The Nationals will begin their season Sept. 19 when they travel to Helena. The team will then return home for their debut in the Havre Ice Dome Sept. 20 against Great Falls.