Friday, January 02, 2009

Jets need more wins in second half

The Metro Jets salvaged their last game at last month’s CSHL Showcase in Burton with a 6-2 win over the Peoria Mustangs on Dec. 22 and hope that win can get the wheels in motion for several more notches in the win column.

“Beating Peoria on the Showcase stage I think opened some people’s eyes, even our own players’, that not only can we compete with the top teams in the league, but we can beat those teams,” Metro general manager Butch Wolfe said. “This weekend will be two more huge tests for us (see “Looking Back, Looking Ahead” below), but winning that Peoria game gave us some much-needed confidence and confidence goes a long way.”

Metro veteran defenseman Brett Grech (Hartland), the senior member of the Jets now in his third season on the club, said it’s time to forget the first half of the season and look forward.

“There is nothing we can do to change the past,” said Grech. “We just need to stop worrying about everything and have fun. That’s when we play our best hockey – when we are having fun.”

Grech also said making the playoffs is not out of the question and is a regular topic of chatter in the Jets’ dressing room.

“We have to get a stretch of victories going so we can make a run here in the second half,” Grech noted. “We have to come to play each and every night like it’s a must-win game for us because from here on out, almost every game is.

“There are no exceptions if we want to make the playoffs.”


It doesn’t get any easier for the Jets, who host the second-place St. Louis Jr. Blues tomorrow night and then the league-leading Toledo Cherokee Sunday afternoon.

St. Louis (24-5-1-1) has defeated the Jets three times this year by a combined score of 25-4.

The Cherokee (25-3-1-1) has scored the most goals (179) in the CSHL this season, while only allowing 70. Only Dubuque (52) and St. Louis (62) have given up fewer.

Toledo has won both games with Metro this year, outscoring the Jets by an 18-4 margin.

Toledo boasts the top two scorers in the league in Andrew Kolb (33 goals, 65 points) and Brent Bain (36 assists, 58 points).

Jake Menzel of the Jr. Blues is the CSHL’s top goaltender with a 12-3-0 record and a league-best five shutouts, 1.43 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.


The holidays saw a handful of transactions go through for Metro as forward Mark Malcolm (Casco Township) was released on Dec. 22, defenseman Ryan Phillips (Lincoln Park) signed on New Year’s Day and forwards Chad Rutkowski (Harrison Township) and Matt McCaig (Lincoln Park) were added Jan. 2.

“Phillips is a big body (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) that will help solidify our back end and give us more size back there,” Wolfe said. “I’m anxious to see him play this weekend, along with Rutkowski, who had a very successful minor hockey career. McCaig will add depth to our group of forwards.”

Phillips played for Lincoln Park High School and graduated in 2007. He hadn’t played this season.

Malcolm, signed Oct. 22 from the defunct Motor City Machine midget major team, scored two goals (one on a penalty shot Dec. 14 at home against Motor City) in 15 games with the Jets.

Rutkowski played AAA hockey for Honeybaked and Belle Tire and was a fifth-round pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers in 2006. During his midget minor year with Honeybaked in 2005-2006, he played on a line with current University of Michigan freshmen David Wohlberg and Robbie Czarnik.

McCaig played with the Elliot Lake Bobcats of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League in Ontario this season and recorded eight points in five games.


Forward Mike Mistretta played for the Jets during the 2004-2005 season and is currently a senior with the Michigan State ACHA team.

Mistretta, from Warren, has tallied 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 18 games for MSU this year.

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