Thursday, March 18, 2010

Metro Jets - 2009-2010 Year In Review

It wasn’t quite the season the Metro Jets expected, but the 2009-2010 campaign did have its share of positives and highlights over the course of the year.

For one, the team’s roster was pretty much the same all season long – not many transactions and very little in-season turnover.

Another big plus to the year was that from Game 1 through Game 48, each player on the ice worked hard, never quit and showed marked improvement.

“It was hard to keep giving it your all when there was nothing to play for (once the Jets were mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs), but we still went to practice everyday and ‘punched the clock,'” veteran defenseman Brett Grech said. “We all liked each other on the team, so we just played for each other and tried to have fun. That's what hockey is all about.”

“We improved in all aspects, from playing in our own end to scoring goals, and keeping pressure in the offensive zone,” added defenseman Tyler Schofield. “We just played well as a team and worked hard. Everyone got along very well. We were all friends with one another and we were just like a family.”

Several players stood out with decent individual seasons. While playing on the back in special team situations, Grech spent most of his time on the top forward line with Jon Wickersham and Jon Elliott. All three players had 10 or more goals to boot.

Mike Denston made good progress up front as the season progressed and kept opponents honest. Steve Lockwood, at times, concentrated more on the defensive side of the game from the blue line and showed a knack for offense with five goals and 13 assists. When he stuck to the game the coaches wanted him to play, he was effective enough to warrant some looks from North American Hockey League teams.

Forward Tim Hooker improved the team's depth after sitting out the beginning of the season rehabbing from late-summer shoulder surgery.

In goal, 17-year-old Ian Mercer emerged as the No. 1 goaltender and led the team with 10 wins. Perhaps one of his most dominant wins was a 47-save shutout at Queen City on Dec. 6. Mercer was also in net for a 3-1 win at Cleveland on Nov. 22. Mercer also drew some attention from the scouts at the next level.

On Nov. 29, Metro and Motor City played in what is believed to be a USA Hockey-record 17-round shootout at Lakeland Arena. Motor City won the drama-filled game.

The Jets also took Dubuque to a shootout on Nov. 13.

“I think that we gutted out the season because we had enough players who were going to give it their all all the way to the end,” noted Wickersham. “We had enough players who wanted to better themselves and move on to the next level making them go hard until the end.”

“Everyone was always competitive and we enjoyed playing hockey with each other,” Metro team captain Mike Corder said. “Everyone showed up everyday and no one gave up and no one quit. It was a unique experience. It was tough to stay focused with the longer season and all of the travel for all of us rookies, but we all wanted to play good hockey. The chemistry was great from day one. The team was a brotherhood, both on and off the ice.”

Next up for Metro is the annual Central States Hockey League Draft scheduled for late May, preceded by a pre-draft camp May 15-16 at Lakeland Arena. The 2010-2011 schedule should be announced mid-summer.

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