It was a long time coming for Metro, with Saturday night’s 3-1 win being win No. 1 on the young season.
“We had a rough start to the schedule facing two teams that still remain undefeated in league play (Pittsburgh and St. Louis),” Jets GM Butch Wolfe said. “My feeling is that the talent is still there to be successful. It does seem, however, that the learning curve for the new team members is proving to be a bit steeper than anticipated.”
Todd Knaus, Josh Magnan and David Merkle scored in Saturday’s outing to back R.J. Heath’s 30-save performance in goal.
Knaus, just signed last week, he has shown the ability to be in a go-to player in his short time with the Jets. He and Magnan were also teammates last year with the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“Knaus has proved that he is a top-end player for us,” Wolfe said. “Thus, improving our depth at forward.”
Sunday afternoon, Metro let a 3-2 lead slip away and had to settle for a 4-3 shootout loss after the shootout went nine rounds.
Will Saley, Steve Lockwood (pictured) and Magnan tallied in regulation and Heath continued his stellar play making 31 stops.
In the shootout, Knaus scored in the second round, only to be answered by Timothy Prinz. Dylan Mantay scored five rounds later, but Christopher Kennedy-Prewitt answered back. Saley was then stopped by Ryan Siuzdak and Parker Johnson beat Heath to put Peoria up. Mike Denston failed to score on the next shot and the Mustangs had their first point of the season.
Wolfe said last weekend was a step in the right direction, but the team still has to make improvements, and some of that comes from the veterans on the squad.
“Our leadership is improving with the naming of our captains,” said Wolfe. “But others without the letter on their sweater need to realize that everyone needs to pitch-in to lead by example to get the team going.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
After the Peoria games, the Jets traveled to the Lansing suburb of Dimondale Wednesday night for a “home” game against Grand Rapids and fell to the Jr. Owls, 3-2.
It was Grand Rapids’ first win in two years.
Jonathon Elliott and Knaus scored Metro’s goals and Ian Mercer stopped 24 shots in the loss.
Former Metro goalie Nick Ceccolini (2008-2009) turned aside 37 shots in defeating his old team.
Metro (1-8-0-1) hosts the three-time defending Hurster Cup champion Dubuque Thunderbirds Sunday afternoon at Lakeland Arena. Game time is 1:20 p.m.
Thunderbirds’ head coach Joe Coombs will be back behind the bench this weekend after serving a six-game league-imposed suspension.
Dubuque has four Michigan natives on their roster in goaltender Bradley Makowski (Wyandotte), forwards Marcus Andary (Sault Ste. Marie) and Lucas Swardenski (Ada) and defenseman Tristan Musser (Lansing).
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Goalie Wylie Rogers, a key cog on Metro’s 2002 Silver Cup national championship team, re-signed over the summer with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the Central Hockey League.