Friday, October 02, 2009

Metal Jackets satisfied with early play

After inheriting a team that won all of 11 games last year, Motor City Metal Jackets head coach David Cole had his work cut out for him in the offseason.

His arduous efforts - through September, anyways - have seemingly paid off.

The Metal Jackets, who play out of the Detroit suburb of Wyandotte, are out of the gates with a formidable 3-0-2 record, picking up eight out of a possible 10 points as they enter the heart of their North Division schedule.

This weekend, they welcome the Marquette Rangers to town for a two-game set on Friday and Saturday.

“I’m happy with our start - it’s very important for our franchise,” said Cole. “To not have any blemishes in the loss column at this point is encouraging, and we certainly feel we can build on all the positives.”

The Metal Jackets’ success begins between the pipes, where Randy Willis (pictured) has won two of his four starts - both shutouts - with Jason Torf picking up the other victory allowing only one goal against.

“Our goaltending has been very solid up this point and has been the backbone of our success so far,” said Cole.

Offensively, veteran Patrick Sullivan is fitting in nicely in his new surroundings. After spending last season with the Kenai River Brown Bears, he has three goals and an assist to start his season.

First-year players Steve Brancheau, a 19-year-old from River Rouge, and John Scorcia have also impressed. Brancheau has seven points on two goals and Scorcia six on three tallies.

“Those two have been pleasant surprises,” said Cole.

So, too, has the response from the local community, where the Metal Jackets continue to build winning relationships off the ice.

“It’s been extremely encouraging to experience the positive support from Wyandotte and the Downriver communities of Detroit,” said Metal Jackets owner Kenji Yamada. “We’re confident, as we continue to build our organization, we’ll continue to provide quality, affordable entertainment.”

The Rangers make their way to town with some swagger of their own, coming off a two-game sweep over Fairbanks last weekend after a 3-1 record at the NAHL Showcase Tournament.

“The North Division is going to be very competitive, and Marquette is a very good hockey team that will be a very big test for us,” said Cole. “The games should be a measuring stick for where we are this early in this season.”

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