Thursday, January 28, 2010

Youth being served with Jets' Moeller

When the Metro Jets coaching staff went to scout players in last spring’s Midget A state tournament, one player kept grabbing their attention – Matt Moeller.

Admittedly, Jets coach Ryan Skop said he was at the tournament to watch other players he was told about, but after Moeller, then with the Troy Sting, caught his eye, he quickly became the one skater Skop wanted to get signed for this season.

“I really started to notice Moe because he was always stirring the pot,” Skop said. “It seemed like he was under the skin of every guy on the opposing team. He finished every check and just played with an intensity nobody else out there did. He has a pretty good skill set and he was one of the younger ones out there, too.”

Still just 16, Moeller is the youngest player on the Jets and one of the youngest in the Central States Hockey League. While he started out slow and then had to battle back from an early-season knee injury, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Moeller has picked up his game as of late and scored his first goal of the season last weekend in Peoria.

“Being the youngest on the team comes with a lot of responsibility because I have to work extra hard to keep up with the older guys,” said Moeller. “I think by looking up to the older, more experienced vets, I have learned a lot about the game, which has made me a much better, all-around hockey player. I think the vets respect that I look up to them, as I respect them back, which has helped me fit in more this year with the guys.”

“Part of our plan when we set out last year to do some recruiting was to find a way to get a couple of real young guys who we can work and develop and have in the system here,” explained Skop. “Moe certainly plays the part. Coming into the season, I was hoping Moe wouldn't be intimidated playing with guys who were a bit older. I wanted him to keep that edge we like so much. To his credit, he did just that. After the two exhibition games we had with Flint, we were wondering if he would hold up through an entire season playing with the same kind of reckless abandon he was. For the most part, he's been bringing the same energy night in and night out.”

Moeller, a native of Fraser, has played the last few weeks on a line with Joe Rutkowski and Brad Tunesi and has also earned time on special teams

“He's starting to find a more complete game, too,” Skop said. “Moe does have the skill to be more than an energy guy. Lately, he's really had some good chances and he's getting those chances by working hard. He's been given a chance to start killing penalties here the past couple weeks and he's been pretty good with that, too.”

While Moeller still has four years left of junior hockey eligibility, Skop thinks it’s just a matter of time before Moeller makes the jump up the hockey ladder.

“For Moe, it's just a matter of continuing to develop his skills and maintaining the same style of game he plays,” said Skop. “With the work ethic he has, I'm sure in a year or so he'll be ready to move up.”

Moeller agrees with his coach.

“It has always been my dream to play Division I college hockey,” added Moeller. “With my goal in mind, I would hope to move up in my junior career to the NAHL. However, if nothing happens, then I am fully prepared to stay with the Jets and keep pushing myself and working hard until I do accomplish my goals.”


Metro swept the Peoria Mustangs on the road last weekend with a 5-2 win Saturday night and a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon.

The two wins pushed Metro’s record to 9-26-0-3 and give the Jets two more wins than all of last season. The Jets also take the season series from Peoria with three wins and a shootout loss.

Saturday night, Metro used five different goal scorers and a 28-save outing in goal from Ian Mercer to gain the win.

Brett Grech had a goal and an assist for the Jets, while Dylan Mantay and Moeller scored their first goals of the season. Jon Elliott added his tenth of the year and Steve Vandenberghe also lit the lamp.

Sunday afternoon, Elliott scored again to go along with a single from David Merkle and Mercer’s 36 saves.

The Jets play just one game this week, on Friday night on the road against the Motor City Chiefs. Metro returns home on Saturday, Feb. 6 against Queen City.


Grech assisted on Elliott’s goal Sunday to take over the team scoring lead with 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists).


Aaron Davis, a forward with the Jets in the mid-1990s, is now in his eighth professional season after four years at Lake Superior State University.

Davis, a 30-year-old from Dearborn Heights, has 15 goals and 38 points in 37 games this season with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.

Photo by Walt Dmoch

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