Friday, February 27, 2009

McCaig hoping for college hockey chance

Matt McCaig has already played one year of college hockey and now just wants a shot at three more.

McCaig, a 20-year-old forward with the Metro Jets, played with the University of Michigan-Dearborn ACHA team back in the 2006-2007 season, but with the Jets’ season ending next weekend, along with his junior eligibility, McCaig knows he has a future on the ice.

Only problem now is to find a school that will suit his academic and hockey aspirations.

“I am hoping to have the opportunity to play Division III hockey,” said McCaig, a Lincoln Park, Mich., native. “I've been looking at DIII teams along the east coast, along with teams in Wisconsin, and hopefully one of them will be interested in me.

“As for my ability to play at the next level, I feel that I am completely capable of doing so. I feel that if my conditioning improved, there wouldn't be a problem at all.”

Metro assistant coach Ryan Skop is in full agreement.

“Although he's a first-line guy that we look to put up points here, he's absolutely capable of being a third-line checker at the next level,” said Skop. “He does all the little things, finishes checks, strong on the wall, block shots, you name it. He's such a mature kid that he shouldn't have a problem (jumping to a DIII school).”

When the 6-foot-1, 190-pound McCaig signed with the Jets over the holidays after leaving the Elliot Lake (Ont.) Bobcats of the Greater Metro Hockey League, he did so at the urging of fellow Lincoln Park native and current Jets defenseman Dustin Jones.

“During my time (in Elliot Lake), I enjoyed the hockey, but I didn't feel that the coaching was where it should be for a Junior A hockey team,” explained McCaig. “At the Christmas break, I decided to come back home and evaluate my options. Jones told me about the Jets and from the good things he said, I decided to come skate and try out. Thankfully, I was signed and am happy with my decision.”

With seven goals and 13 points in just 14 games, McCaig has recorded four multi-point games, including a two-goal, two-assist outing on Jan. 17 in an 11-5 win over Grand Rapids.

McCaig, who plans to major in sociology in college, said that even though he’s been in Waterford just a short time, he feels his overall game has taken a turn for the better.

“The most significant difference that I have noticed is my defensive zone coverage,” noted McCaig. “ Thanks to (head coach) Jamie (Hayden) and Ryan, I play with a lot more confidence without the puck and feel more comfortable protecting my own zone. The physical aspect of my game has improved as well, due to the many drills during practice to work on man-to-man coverage and taking the body.”

His overall attitude is also one that the Metro staff wishes it could have had all season.

“Just because the season isn't going the way that we would like it to, I can’t let that affect my play,” McCaig said. “I'm here to motivate myself and others to play at a competitive level.”


The Jets hit the road last weekend to suburban Cleveland and lost both ends of their weekend series to the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.

Saturday night, Cleveland took a 7-3 decision and then beat the Jets by a 6-2 count Sunday afternoon.

Adam Novack (Rochester Hills) had two goals and an assist in the first game and McCaig, with a goal and an assist, were again the offensive spurts for the Jets, who got a 41-save outing from Kevin Kinnie (Shelby Township) in net.

In the series finale, David Williams (Bloomfield Hills) and Novack scored for the Jets, who also got two assists apiece from McCaig and Brett Grech (Hartland). Colin Greeley (Howell) turned aside 43 shots in the loss.

Up until Williams’ goal Sunday, Novack had figured in on 11 straight Jets’ goals.

Metro goaltender Nickolas Ceccolini (Dexter) also saw time at forward last weekend and played mostly on a line with Justin Vinson (Livonia) and Matt Noe.

This weekend, the Jets (6-35-1-1) play just a single game on the road in Grand Rapids Saturday night. Metro has won all three meetings this season versus the Jr. Owls, including a dramatic 8-7 come-from-behind shootout win on Dec. 13. The Jets trailed 7-3 in the third period of that contest.

The puck drops at 8:00 p.m. at the Southside Community Center.

Photo by Walt Dmoch

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