Friday, June 19, 2009

Jets' open camp sees size, speed, talent

It’s never too early to start gearing up for next season and this week’s open camp at Lakeland Arena was the perfect example of that for the Metro Jets.

More than 40 prospects for next year’s team made the trek to Waterford for the two-day camp held Tuesday and Wednesday night. Several players signed for next season, while others made an impact and may be signed in short order.

“The turnout was very good,” said Metro assistant coach Ryan Skop. “We haven't been focused so much on quantity, as we are quality, and we had 42 very solid players show up. All in all, we saw six veterans, 11 draft picks and 25 free agents. The majority of the free agents we knew and were recruiting already and some we did not know, but were pleasantly surprised by. The games were very good. We had a mix of a little bit of everything – good size, speed and talent.”

Skop added that even for a mid-June camp, the two days had a training camp feel to them.

“What I really liked was the compete level the guys had,” Skop said. “Guys were there to make a hockey team and they worked like it. That's the biggest thing in that we want to get the guys in here that are willing to work and sacrifice, and after this open mini-camp, we've got a bunch of them. We had a number of impact signings who are all good, quality, hockey players who went undrafted that we were able to get a hold of.”

Tim Hooker, an Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School graduate and co-state champion in 2008 (in the epic eight overtime game with Marquette High), was a free agent who has committed to the Jets and will be a definite top-six forward.

“Tim is one of the quickest, smartest players I've seen at our level,” noted Skop. “I'm very excited to have him on board.”

Also signing was Shane Wheatley, a product of Sylvania North High School in Ohio.

“Shane is a big body, power forward type,” Skop said. “He's got great strength and loves to play in all the hard areas of the ice. He's still a senior in high school, so he's fairly young, but he's going to be an impact player at our level.”

Draft picks from May’s CSHL draft that signed on the dotted line were forwards Dalton Blenc (Utica Eisenhower HS) and Jonathon Elliott (Brother Rice HS) and defensemen Dave Johnson (Lake Orion HS), Dylan Mantay (Troy Athens HS), Vinnie Pietrangelo (Traverse City West HS), Steve Vandenberghe (De La Salle HS) and Matt Zacharias (Dublin (Oh.) Coffman HS).

“This all sets up our main July camp very well,” boasted Skop. “We have a very solid core to add to and it should be very competitive. Yes, we have signed some guys, but they still have to earn their spots with this team. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months.”

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