Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. resident Jake Palmerio will head back across the St. Mary’s River to play a third season with the Michigan Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Palmerio confirmed to HockeyNewsNorth.com that he will suit up with the Eagles for his final season of junior eligibility in 2017-2018 rather than pursue opportunities elsewhere.
A 5-foot-10, 180-pound, 1997 birth-year skater, Palmerio finished fourth on the Eagles in scoring during the 2016-2017 NOJHL regular season with 21 goals, 25 assists, 46 points in 49 games before adding 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points in 12 playoff outings.
Those numbers represented a major increase from the 2015-2016 campaign when Palmerio had 11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points in 44 regular season games and tallied twice more in 6 playoff matches.
Eagles head coach Jim Capy, who will also be returning for his third season with the Michigan Soo squad, commented on Palmerio’s decision.
“After sitting down with Jake and going over his potential plans for him to achieve his goals to play at a higher level we are pleased that he came to the conclusion that the Soo Eagles present his best opportunity,” Capy relayed to HockeyNewsNorth.com.
“Jake has had numerous Division 3 (National Collegiate Athletic Association) opportunities but believes he can be a Division 1 player,” Capy pointed out. “We will do everything we can to help him achieve his goal as we will for all our players.”
Palmerio’s decision to return to the Eagles follows that of fellow 1997 birth-year forward Jake Saxton, who finished third on the team in scoring last season with 22 goals, 31 assists, 53 points in 56 games.
“Anytime you can start your new season with your leadership group coming back it is a bonus,” Capy continued. “With co-captain Matt Meininger moving on to play at the D3 level, Palmerio’s role as assistant captain last year will now become co-captain with Saxton.
“I believe the two Jakes will continue to help us build a winning culture,” Capy added. “Both made tremendous strides offensively last season and without a doubt are two of the best 200-foot players in the league.”
Eagles general manager and associate coach Bruno Bragagnolo also expressed multiple good words about Palmerio’s return to a team that finished fourth in the West Division last season before upending the Elliot Lake Wildcats in the preliminary round of the playoffs and then stunning the no. 1 seed Soo Thunderbirds with a four-game sweep in the second round.
“Not only is Jake a real good hockey player but he’s a real good kid,” Bragagnolo said of Palmerio. “He’s the type of player who you want on your team because he always gives his best effort, game in and game out.
“He has improved a lot with us from his first season to his second and we expect that he will continue to make major strides in his final season in the NOJHL.
“You know how much I think of Jake as a player and a person and Jim (Capy) feels the same way. We’ve got our two co-captains now with Palmerio and Saxton and that’s a good feeling as we get ready for our next season,” Bragagnolo summed up.