Growing up in Texas, Colin Jacobs first took to hockey following the Stanley Cup championship season that the Dallas Stars experienced in 1999. Jacobs, who lived in a town outside of Dallas called Coppell, knew then that he wanted to play hockey. Little did the then six-year-old Jacobs know, he would go on to represent the very organization that his hometown heroes had just defeated to win the Stanley cup.
Jacobs’ journey to professional hockey would come full-circle during a recent road trip that the Rochester Americans made in March. The string of games the team played in Texas would mark the beginning of his professional career and a homecoming that was special for many reasons: a pro debut and his first professional goal were all the more significant when they happened right in his backyard with family and friends present to see his accomplishments firsthand.
Behind his memorable weekend in Texas, however, are years of work that are now culminating with an opportunity to make a difference for his pro club’s playoff outlook.
Prior to going pro, Jacobs spent several seasons playing for the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds, where his style of play gained him a positive scouting report as a physical and offensively capable two-way forward. This led to Jacobs’ dream of playing pro hockey finally coming to fruition in 2011, when the Buffalo Sabres selected him in the fourth round of the draft, 107th overall.
Jacobs would continue his post-draft day career this year while playing for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. This season, he recorded personal bests with 25 goals and 53 points en route to being voted the Player of the Year by the loyal fans of Prince George.
Despite having a solid season with the Cougars, the team did not earn a playoff berth. But the conclusion of Jacobs’ junior career, however, would soon serve as a springboard to the beginning of his pro career.
As circumstances would have it, the Amerks were in need of reinforcements over the course of a mid-March five-game road trip that spanned across 10 days, five different cities and two different states. During that time, Jacobs received his chance to help the team further their playoff berth push after joining Rochester on an Amateur Tryout.
The timing could not have been better for Jacobs. He received his call up prior to Rochester’s three-game trek through the Lone Star State, a homecoming that had somewhat of a different feel to it. Jacobs would be returning home, but to play hockey for the Rochester Americans.
His first game was on a Friday against the Texas Stars, and although the outcome was not what he would have hoped it to be, a 2-1 loss, it was still a special moment nonetheless.
“It was pretty cool,” said Jacobs about the opportunity to come back home. “I mean obviously at the start, I never expected to be able to have my first pro game in Texas. It was a great feeling for my family and I.”
The team and Jacobs rebounded in the second game, coming out victorious over the Houston Aeros in a 3-2 shootout win. Jacobs would prove to be a major contributor in the win when he notched his first career goal in just his second American Hockey League game. His goal would tie the game at one and help propel his team to taking an important two points on the road.
Even more special is that of the three games that weekend, his family chose the game in Houston to come watch him play. Cheering from the stands, friends and family were able to see their favorite local player help add to a win for the organization that drafted him less than two years ago.
The team would end their road trip in Texas the following day with a shutout win against the San Antonio Rampage and returned home to Rochester with Jacobs riding high.
“It feels good. Anytime you can get points on a streak like that, it’s good for the team,” said Jacobs about the team’s successful road trip that saw the Amerks claim six out of a possible 10 points. “It’s definitely exciting to get my first one, but you have to keep it going.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Jacobs hopes to be able to add to the Amerks roster and further develop his career.
“I just try to keep progressing and move on to the next level and keep working hard,” said Jacobs about his new role with his new team. “This is the next step and I have to prove that I belong here and try to make a difference each game.”
When looking back, Jacobs knew there was something even more special about his professional debut, a feeling he would not have had anywhere else. Being able to begin his career where he grew up and score that first goal in front of friends and family will be a memory that he will hold on to and have while he takes the next steps in his hockey career.
It would be fitting if down the line he were to make his NHL debut while wearing a Buffalo Sabres jersey, facing off against his childhood team, right in Dallas. Until that possibility, Jacobs plans to work hard in Rochester and help the Amerks any way he can.