Huskies' Jacques wears pride on his sleeve

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Huskies' Jacques wears pride on his sleeve

By Dieter Kurtenbach
CSNChicago.com contributor

Like many Miami natives, Northern Illinois middle linebacker Victor Jacques is proud of his hometown. You can tell, because he wears his pride on his sleeve.

Scratch that, his pride is actually under that sleeve.

Jacques was so excited about NIU making the 2012 Orange Bowl that he finally went out an purchased something he had been thinking about getting for three years, a shoulder-to-elbow tattoo on his left bicep, depicting the Miami skyline, the Biscayne Bay and the Miami-Dade county logo.

And shining down on this indelible city, in lieu of the sun on this partly cloudy and perhaps partly-hairy sky is an Orange Bowl logo.

It was a bit an impulse purchase Jacques was inked three weeks ago, after the announcement was made that the Huskies would be playing in his hometown. The redshirt senior had been debating whether to get a tattoo of Miami for years, and the Orange Bowl berth was the perfect milestone to commemorate.

The tattoo is ornately designed, what with the a giant marlin jumping out of the water and the Rickenbacker Causeway and the Orange Bowl logo, one error could have turned South Beach into South Dakota.

But this wasn't Jacques' first go-around. In fact, the tattoo was Jacques' third, all done at Spider Tattooz outside of DeKalb, in Sycamore, Illinois.

"It wasn't hard to find someone to get the logo right, but I had to get the money right. It's not cheap." Jacques joked. "I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do it definitely had to do with Miami but it all came together. The Orange Bowl just topped it off. It was the icing on the cake."

Or the ink on the arm.

It took four hours for Spider, the parlor's proprietor, to finish Jacques' tattoo and more three weeks before it fully healed.

Jacques didn't make an annoucement when the bandages came off upon landing in South Florida. Some teammates noticed the new art underneath the cuff Jacques' No. 40 jersey. Others didn't even know he got a new tattoo. NIU coach Rod Carey didn't notice the tattoo until overhearing Jacques being interviewed for this article.

The Columbus High School graduate's hometown pride is clearly displayed, but that pride didn't swell until he left Miami to go to DeKalb. Jacques spurned offers to both stay in Miami and in Florida, instead opting to venture north and go to NIU, and he maintains it's the best decision he's ever made.

The differences are stark "there's not many cornfields down here," Jacques quipped but those differences made him value both where he came from and where he is now.

So when those places intersected on Dec. 2, Jacques was overwhelmed.

"I was smiling from ear to ear," Jacques said. "It was hard to control. It was damn-near almost emotional at times... It's a dream. Growing up here in Miami, watching the Orange Bowl, it's always been the dream. Now that I'm able to play in it, it's something that really sits well.. The emotions are still going. Coming here, it's picking right back up."

That energy has been endearing to the Huskies. NIU defensive coordinator Jay Neimann knows what kind of player Jacques is, he calls him a bell-cow middle linebacker in that case, he's likely the first cow to go from Miami to Dekalb but he's also the force that creates the bonds of chemistry on the NIU defense.

"He's just a real treat," Neimann added.

That affable personality might have backfired on Jacques though. Now that he is back, he's being hit up by friends and family for tickets to the game. All-in-all Jacques is hunting for upwards of 100 tickets for the New Year's Day affair. He'd buy them secondary market tickets are going for less than 10 on some websites but after dishing out for the tattoo, cash is a bit tight.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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