Friday, January 15, 2010

Denston progressing well for Jets

The goal of junior hockey is player development and the Metro Jets hoped to accomplish that with Mike Denston when he signed as a free agent last summer.

Based on the first four months of the season, Denston has improved his overall game to the point that the Metro coaching staff feels he may be able to jump to the next level next season.

“Denny's still got a couple years left and I wouldn't at all be surprised if he was able to move up to Tier II next year,” Jets coach Ryan Skop said. “He skates well enough, he's got the skill for it, and he's certainly physical enough for it. We'll have to wait and see how things shake out, but he certainly could end up there.”

Denston, a forward from White Lake who turned 19 on Thursday, thinks coming to the Jets will help him continue to climb the hockey ladder.

“I feel that I’ve progressed rather well, actually,” said Denston. “I feel that throughout the season my confidence has increased and that I've gotten the hang of the fast pace of junior hockey. There's always room to get better and improve and that’s what I look to do every time I'm on the ice during practice or a game.”

In recent games, Denston has added an edge to his game that has made him a threat to make a big play at either end of the ice.”It actually wasn't until last year with my previous coach, Terry Christensen (Oakland Grizzlies midgets), that (the rough stuff) became part of my game,” Denston said. “He was an old school type coach that liked the hard hitting and the fighting and built the team around that. If you weren't that type of player, you had to make it a part of you if you wanted ice time and that's what I did.”

It may not show on the scoresheet a ton, but Denston is one of Metro’s more well-rounded players, according to Skop.

“Denny's improved since the beginning of the season by just making himself a more complete and consistent player,” Skop said. “When we picked him up, you could see he always had the talent to be an effective player at this level, but it was just a matter of getting him to do it on a daily basis. He's really worked on that and done it well.”

Denston has also been used in all situations, a testament again to his overall talent level.

“Denny's a guy who's so versatile we've been pretty comfortable putting him just about anywhere,” noted Skop. “He's played on the back end for us on the power play, he's been on the wall for us on the PP, he'll go to the net for us, he plays the penalty kill, there really isn't a spot he can't handle. He started the year in the middle and when (Tim) Hooker came back, we moved him over to the wing and he's done well since the transition. That line (Denston-Hooker-David Merkle) has been real good for us and Denny's a real important piece there.

“He's a skill guy who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty and playing in the hard areas of the ice. He's good on the forecheck and he provides Hook and Merk that other dimension every good line needs. I think the most noticeable part of Denny's game is his puck skills and creativity. He's got good hands and sees the ice really well. We're still working with him as far as finishing goes, but he's got a great ability to create scoring chances. Regardless of who he's on the ice with, he makes them better.”

Growing up just a few miles from Lakeland Arena, Denston said playing for the Jets is something he always envisioned as a young player.

“I've always thought it would be fun to play for the Jets,” Denston said. “When I was younger, I grew up playing at Lakeland and would always be at the Jets games. It's been a great experience playing in front of my friends and family.”

As for the future, like Skop said, it’s all in Denston’s hands.

”My goals are to reach the next level, whether it is the NAHL, USHL, or college,” said Denston. “Those are the places I have my mind set on and I am working hard to try and get myself to those places in the future.”


The Jets returned home after a 19-day break and dropped both games to the Chicago Force over the weekend at Lakeland Arena.

Saturday night, Jon Elliott tallied a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss. Jon Wickersham also scored and Brett Grech added two assists. In goal, Ian Mercer made 39 saves in defeat.

Then Sunday afternoon, Chicago took a 6-1 decision over the Jets.

Elliott scored again and Mercer stopped 24 shots.

Metro (7-23-0-3) plays at Toledo Friday night before hosting Quad City Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Lakeland. Game time Saturday night is 7:40 p.m., while the puck drops at 1:20 p.m. on Sunday.


Of his team-best 16 goals, Josh Magnan has scored 10 at even-strength.


Barry Haber, one of the goalies on the 2002 national championship team, owns his own remodeling company in Tallahassee, Fla. – Haber Remodeling.

Haber started out on his own in the field back in 2002 and three years later moved his family and business down to Florida.

Photo by Andy Grossman

No comments: