Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jets wrap-up second tryout camp

The Metro Jets held their second open tryout camp of the summer last weekend at Lakeland Arena and now, more than ever, optimism is sky-high with the season opener less than two months away.

“I was really happy with the play of the guys that came out,” Metro assistant coach Ryan Skop said. “Guys were hungry. They were competitive. They want to be here. Right from the word ‘go’ on Friday night, guys were crashing and banging, trying to earn their spots on the team. It was fast paced, up-tempo hockey – the way it should be.”

One area of interest that Jets’ GM Butch Wolfe took note of was how far some of the players traveled to take part in the three-day camp.

“We had a very good turnout and are very excited with what we saw,” said Wolfe. “For the first time in a while, we were able to attract players from all over the country. Overall, six separate states were represented, as well as players from the Northern Ontario Junior League, North American League and Northern Pacific League.”

But perhaps the biggest news to result from the weekend was the fact Metro landed a veteran goaltender, RJ Heath (Holly), who has NAHL experience the past couple seasons in Alexandria and Motor City.

“Heath came out and looked good,” Skop said. “He's a big goalie who moves pretty well. We're very excited to have him on board with us.”Skop also said a couple previous free agent signings turned a few heads, as did some new signings and a draft pick from May.

"I was particularly impressed with the play of Shane Wheatley (free agent), John Elliott (2009 draft) and Mike Denston (free agent),” said Skop. “It's obvious these guys have been putting a lot of work in during the off-season and it really showed this weekend.”

The two new signings, forwards Mike Herter (Dexter) and James Ryerse (Cumming, Ga.), also earned solid praise from Skop and both should fill key roles for the Jets.

“Herter is a very fast, high-paced energy guy,” Skop said. “He probably won't be a huge scorer, but he's one of the guys who does all of the little things well. He's going to fill a very important role for us. With his grit and speed, I expect him to be one of the best penalty kill guys around.”

And while Herter is a Michigan native, Ryerse came a tad bit further to the tryout camp.

“Ryerse is a guy we saw at an exposure camp in Nashville and we liked him immediately,” said Skop. “He's very strong and very solid. He won't get pushed around. He's got soft hands and a quick, lethal shot. He's a guy who will be able to put the puck in the net.”

Metro’s roster now looks to be in good shape, with just some tweaking now to do before next season.

"Bottom line is we're happy with where we at right now, but not content with it,” added Skop. “We're going to continue to find ways to improve this team.”

Next up for Metro is their "last chance camp," scheduled for July 31-August 1 at Lakeland Arena.


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