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If you were to sum up the first three days of Silver Knights training camp in one word, it might be “battle.” The physicality, speed, and grit that each player has brought to the competition for spots in the lineups stands out to coaches and players alike. Veteran defenseman Jake Bischoff returns to Silver Knights training camp with an optimistic outlook on what this early fire means for the team.

“I think it’s so important, right, to get out of summer habits – get to battling, get to playing the body, that kind of thing early,” he said.

“It’s been a tough few days to start, but that’s what we need going into the season. We have to be ready to go and start out on the right foot, get a couple wins early. So I think camp will continue to be tough like this, and we’ll be absolutely ready to go for the first game of the season.”

For Bischoff, hitting the ice battle-ready isn’t just about a team-wide mindset shift heading into a fresh season. It’s also his first training camp after a healthy playing season and off-season since joining the Silver Knights. Last season, Bischoff tallied 16 points (5G, 11A) and was instrumental to the team’s penalty kill and defensive systems.

“I think going into the last year, I wasn’t really playing for a couple years, I wasn’t really sure how I would feel and that type of thing,” Bischoff added. “But going through last year and obviously having a full summer of training, I feel really good. So I’m going into this year full speed and I’m hoping to get after it right away, get off to a good start.”

Not everything has been a complete turnover from last year. Although there’s been several changes to the coaching staff and the roster, Bischoff is still able to rely on the camaraderie he’s built with the Silver Knights’ returning players, including several key veterans.

“The guys that stuck around from last year are awesome. I know we’ve been able to build some  great chemistry with guys like [Byron Froese, Gage Quinney, and Sheldon Rempal]. We were a really close group of guys last year, too, so I’m looking forward to that,” he said.

“And the pieces that we added – some new staff members, a lot of new pieces that we added at all positions on the ice – everyone is just an awesome guy as well. So I’m just really looking forward to having a fun, close team this year.”

Bischoff’s eagerness to return to Henderson for the upcoming season also translates to his off-ice involvement in the community. Last year, Bischoff was named the recipient of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for the Silver Knights and nominated for the AHL’s 2022-23 Yanick Dupré Memorial Award for his contributions to the Las Vegas Valley area. He led player efforts for the Silver Knights’ Pink in the Rink night to raise funds and awareness for those battling cancer in the community.

“It’s a huge honor. I think it’s a pretty cool award and it was a big thing for me to be able to give back,” he said. “It feels good to be recognized for something like that – hopefully I’ll be able to just keep doing those things this year and next year as well. It means a lot.”

With all these successes to build on, what are Bischoff’s goals for the next season?

“I’m not a huge personal goal type of guy, I’m more of a team-oriented person. As far as me and individual stats and stuff, it’s just never my focus – I’m never worried about that,” he admitted.

“I’m always more focused on how the team does and how I can put us in the win column each night. So I guess if I had a personal goal, it’s just to play good hockey all year and contribute to a winning season, get us back in the playoffs. Really, that’s just my main goal here.”

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