This past weekend Maryland Black Bears Forward Jake Sujishi played an intricate role in the first home win in team history. Jake skated hard, played physical, and even had a key assist in the narrow 3-2 victory over the Johnston Tomahawks. Black Bear fans know how solid of a player Jake is, but what else? What makes him tick? How did he get to be where he is today? This player spotlight covers all of this and more.
Like most hockey players, Jake has been playing hockey his whole life. He started playing around the age of four and his father, Tom Sujishi, was the inspiration to jumpstart his hockey career. Tom is a huge Los Angles Kings fan and still plays in adult hockey leagues to this day, but never played growing up. As soon as Tom realized his passion for hockey, he knew he wanted his son to grow up with the sport. It didn’t take much for Jake to realize he shared his father’s passion. Jake says, “As soon as I started to play hockey, I knew I loved the game.” Jake looks back fondly on the memories of playing hockey with his dad in his backyard growing up. Jake experimented with other sports growing up by playing baseball, soccer, and basketball, but knew all along that hockey was his sport.
The Sujishis grew up in Lake Forrest, California. Jake says that there wasn’t a big youth hockey presence growing up, but after the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007 and then the Los Angeles Kings won in 2012 and 2014, there was a huge hockey boom in the California area. There has been a rise in youth clubs and hockey rinks being built as a result. Jake really enjoys the new east coast atmosphere and cultural differences from the west coast that playing for the Maryland Black Bears brings, but says he will “always be a west coast kid at heart.”
Playing hockey takes up the lion’s share of Jake’s time, but when he’s not on the ice he loves to fish, play NHL 2K with his teammates, and explore the nation’s capital. Jake has already found a local pond by the Piney Orchard Ice Arena to fish during his off time; He’s also hoping that the Black Bears will start holding team-wide NHL 2K tournaments for team bonding.
After getting into his first ever sparring match with one of the Johnston Tomahawks’ players over the weekend, there is no surprise that Jake’s favorite aspect of hockey is its physical nature. Sujishi says, “I really like to hit. I’m a physical guy and that’s definitely one of my favorite parts of hockey. I remember as a little kid eagerly waiting to be allowed to hit.” Second to hitting, Jake loves to score. One of his standout hockey moments is when he was playing for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Jake had a great game with two goals, one being the game-winning goal that led his team to victory to advance in the tournament.
Many athletes are suppositious and Jake is no exception. Jake carries out the same game day tradition each home game. He makes sure to complete his own personal stretch routine, eat the same two “really big” ham and cheese sandwiches with an apple for lunch, and take the same 30-minute nap before its time to go to the rink.
Jake has set the long-term goal of playing in the NHL one day and is hoping to secure a Division I college hockey scholarship during his time with the Black Bears. Sujishi is focusing on working hard and improving as a hockey player to accomplish those goals, but can’t emphasize enough how much he loves playing for the Maryland Black Bears. Jake says, “I’m playing because I love the game and I’m lucky to play the greatest sport there is with my boys. On top of that, playing in front of all these fans here makes this experience the most fun I’ve had playing hockey. I couldn’t ask for anything more.” Jake feeds off the fan’s energy when on the ice. This team is clearly special to Jake, mentioning multiple times how close the team has come together and how team chemistry is at an all-time high. He also really appreciates that everyone on the team holds each other accountable and this has resulted in an environment necessary to be a winning team.
Jake Sujishi is a passionate, dedicated, and team-oriented hockey player. These are characteristics that every hockey team looks for in their players. The Maryland Black Bears are lucky to have him and Black Bear nation should be excited to follow Jake’s bright future.