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New hockey coach a familiar face

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Former Wildcat player and assistant coach Nick Jenkins has been named the new boys hockey coach at River Falls High School, Activities Director Rollie Hall announced Tuesday morning.

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Jenkins will take over for former coach Jim Joseph who, after three years at the helm, resigned at the end of the 2007-08 season to take the head coaching job at Simley (Minn.) High School. Jenkins served as an assistant to Joseph all three years.

Jenkins, a 1998 graduate of River Falls High School, was an all-conference hockey and football player for the Wildcats and a key member of the 1997 Wildcat hockey sectional championship team, the last River Falls team to reach the state tournament. He said the chance to be the head coach of a team he played on was enticing.

"It certainly had something to do with my decision," he said. "Having been previously involved with the program only makes it that much more exciting."

As an assistant under Joseph the last three years, Jenkins helped guide the Wildcats to a three-year record of 44-19-2 and to within one game of the state tournament in 2007-08. He said Joseph left the program in great shape and looks forward to continuing that success.

"As a coaching staff, we plan to continue doing things we have been over the last three years," he said. "Jim worked hard to build relationships with the youth hockey association and that will always be a focus.

"Jim is a class guy and I've learned a lot about the game of hockey from him," he added. "He truly has a respect for the game that is contagious, and the kids really pick up on that and I do too."

In addition to serving as assistant coach with the Wildcats the last three years, Jenkins has also coached at the Squirt level and at a number of summer instructional camps. Even though this will be his first head coaching position, he said he feels comfortable that it is in River Falls.

"Having familiar faces around definitely helps," he said. "I don't feel like I'm starting from scratch."

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