The Topeka RoadRunners are proud to announce that veteran forward and assistant captain Jasen Fernsler has finalized his college plans and will be headed to the University of Alaska – Fairbanks beginning in Fall 2015.
Fernsler’s hockey journey began in his hometown of Charlotte, MI at the age of 5. “My brother Jared and I were going to sign up for indoor soccer when we saw the ice rink and fell in love”, he recalls. His love for the newly discovered game, coupled with a strong work that he credits his parents for helping him form eventually led him away from home to pursue his dream. “Leaving home for the first time, coming to Topeka was scary at first but felt right at home quickly surrounded by amazing billets and the best teammates I could ask for.” His developing skill set had made him a standout with the Lansing Capitals U18AAA team (NAPHL) where he led his club with 30 points in 22 games. He was invited to camp in Amarillo with the NAHL’s Bulls but the fit wasn’t right. That opened the door for him to become a RoadRunner. “Signing with Topeka was a no brainer, given their success, the guys they send on to college yearly and the coaching staff that is next to none. I was thankful for the opportunity to become a RoadRunner.”
His first season in Topeka was a tremendous series of peaks and valleys. He was third on the team in scoring behind two exceptional future Division I college players in Jake Kamrass and Tyler Poulsen. The team endured the loss of teammate Peter Halash, banded together to win the South Division playoffs, and then suffered a tough overtime loss in the final game of the Robertson Cup Semi Finals. “Last season's tragedies and loss in the playoffs drove me to become a better person and hockey player. Not just for Peter but for the Stone Family, the coaching staff and my teammates, because we all know who deserves a national championship and it's those guys.”
Returning to Topeka this season, he was named as an assistant captain. “Being named assistant captain was a big honor and I was humbled to be viewed as a leader on a team full of so many great leaders. The leadership core has really been one of the backbones for our team this year.” He would respond by playing in all 60 games, leading his team in points (54) and assists (37). He led the NAHL in power play assists with 23. He rattled off an 11 game point streak in December and January, tied for second longest in the league. He was named as a participant in the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February. He was named co-recipient of the team’s Offensive Player of the Year award and twice was recognized as the NAHL’s South Division Star of the Week.
Watching the months pass without locking down college plans was, at times, challenging. “I was very distracted about it but I always continued believing in myself and Coach (Scott) Langer that something would happen for me. I’ve stayed focused on putting this team before my personal accomplishments or goals. This team means everything to me and it always will.” After his team advanced to the South Division Finals, it all finally came together. “The feeling of committing to UAF left me with a huge smile on my face. When I got the call, I immediately called my parents and told them. It was the best feeling in the world and it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
A former high school Honor Roll student, Fernsler has designs on his course of study. “I would like to study Business or Psychology. I would like a degree that will help me get into coaching hockey at a high level someday.” While the magnitude of it is still sinking in, he notes, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity at a top notch program. I am excited to be a Nanook and to represent their university.” His Head Coach and RoadRunner GM Scott Langer commends him, saying, “Jasen is an ultra-dedicated and persistent individual. His detail to the game separates him”, He adds, “He has a very good skill set to go along with his high end character. He will represent the Nanooks very well.”
In the excitement of the moment, Fernsler is quick to show his appreciation and gratefulness. “I would like to thank my parents, Jeff and Kellie. The sacrifices they’ve made and support they've shown me are unbelievable. I'd also like to thanks my siblings, my teammates, Coach Langer and anyone who's never given up on me in this process. Because of you all, my childhood dream is now a reality.”
He becomes the ninth player on the RoadRunners active roster with a Division I college commitment, and the sixth RoadRunner in franchise history to commit to Alaska –Fairbanks. The Nanooks play in the 4,595 seat Carlson Center and compete in the WCHA.