Thursday, December 20, 2012

Luca finds immediate role with Hounds

When Hartland Hounds’ defenseman Bobby Schumacher went out with a concussion a few weeks back, Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose knew he needed a player to come in and play a solid, steady game a la Schumacher.

Montrose found his man in 18-year-old Kalkaska native Scott Luca, who was signed last weekend and played in both of Hartland’s wins at home over the Soo Firehawks.

Coming right in and playing in the top two defensive pairings against the then-second place Firehawks was no easy task, but Luca made his presence known.

“To be honest, I have been thinking about playing for Hartland for a while,” said Luca, who played last season and the start of this year with the Lansing Capitals U18 AAA team and the 2010-11 year for the Capitals’ U16 AAA squad. “Last weekend, the speed was good and the physical play was also good. I think playing for the Capitals really helped with the speed that comes along with juniors and the skill that comes with it as well.”

Luca is good friends with now-Hartland teammates Tyler Thirlby and Alex Grizzel and said they each helped his quick transition going from Midget Major hockey to the Midwest Junior Hockey League.

Having a coach like Montrose and joining an undefeated team is also a situation Luca is embracing.

 “Randy is definitely a very outgoing coach and he knows what he's talking about with any situation,” Luca said. “Hopefully we keep the streak going and just keep playing the way we have been.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Spirit gets goalie Ekblad from Plymouth

The Saginaw Spirit announced this week that the team has acquired goaltender Darien Ekblad from the Plymouth Whalers.

In return, the Spirit send their West Division counterpart a 13th round pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.

Ekblad was originally selected by London in the ninth round of the 2010 draft, then was part of a package that saw goaltender Jake Patterson move to the Knights from Plymouth.

The Belle River, Ont., native is a 1994 birth year, and is the brother of Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts, the OHL’s first overall pick in 2011.

This season with the Chatham Maroons of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Ekblad has enjoyed a solid campaign with 17 wins and a goals-against average of 2.93 in 24 games. He was named the league’s Western Conference Goaltender of the Month for November.

Flint's Howie inks tender with Jr. K-Wings

The Flint Jr. Generals announced this week that forward Jacob Howie has signed an NAHL tender with the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings.

Howie, 18, becomes the second NA3HL player so far this season to sign an NAHL tender.

The Grand Blanc native currently leads the Jr. Generals in scoring this season with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in just 19 games played. Howie ranks in the top 15 in the NA3HL in goals, assists and points. He has registered at least a point in 14 of 19 games this season and also has nine multi-point games.

Back on Sept. 25, Howie was named the NA3HL’s No. 2 star of the week for his six-point weekend.

This is Howie’s second season in the NA3HL after playing the 2011-12 season for the Chicago Hitmen.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frost leading by example for young Jets

Chad Frost was one of the younger players with the Metro Jets last season, but jump ahead to the 2012-13 season and the Clarkston native is now one of the Jets’ veteran skaters.

Frost, who turns 19 on Dec. 21, has realized how fast a player’s role can change from year to year.

“Last season, we had a lot of talent and a lot of guys to look up to that helped me grow as a hockey player,” said Frost, a defenseman. “I’m a vet this year and now I have the responsibility as a role model this year. I make sure that I show up to practice ready to go and keep in top shape so the guys look up to me.”

Coming into the 2011-12 season from high school hockey, Frost noted that Junior A hockey in the North American 3 Hockey League was nothing like high school puck.

”I learned very quickly that junior hockey is a big commitment and you’ve got to use your time wisely and effectively so you don’t drain yourself; it’s a long season," said Frost. "This season, since I’ve been in the league a year, I try and help teaching the younger guys the ropes and rules of the team. I try and lead by example.

“I’ve also learned that playing for (head coach) Jason (Cirone) is tough at times, but I think playing for any coach can be that way. He can really get the best out of his players when he needs to and that’s what a good coach does.”

One of Frost’s teammates last season and this season, forward Travis Hargett, is also a Clarkston native and fellow 2012 graduate of Clarkston High School.

“Hargett and I go way back,” Frost said. “I played high school hockey with him our sophomore year and I’ve known him since I was in elementary school. We look out for each other and it’s nice to have someone like that on the team that you’ve known for so long.”

As for his future, Frost has one year of junior eligibility after this season and intends on using it.

“Obviously, along with everyone else playing hockey at my age, the dream is to play in the NHL, but I really want to make it to the NAHL or play college hockey in Minnesota,” said Frost. “I’m going to keep training hard on the off-season and during the season as well. It’s important to eat healthy and keep working out as hard is at it may be sometimes during the season.”

JET STREAKS

Defensemen Aaron Bessey and Evan Bennett, who made their Jets’ debut at the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., two weekends ago, have been reassigned back to their Midget teams – Bessey to Omaha AAA Hockey of the High Performance Hockey League and Bennett to the West Michigan Hounds of the North American Prospects Hockey League.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Goaltender Colin Greeley, who played for the Jets as a 16-year-old in the 2008-09 season, played the past two seasons in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League before deciding to focus on school and work this season.

Currently at Lansing Community College, Greeley, a Howell native, is looking at transferring to Michigan State or Grand Valley State next year and may give the ACHA teams there a shot.

Greeley came to the Jets after being selected by the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit in the fourth round of the 2008 OHL draft.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hounds give back to local community

When the Hartland Hounds hosted Tennyson Chevrolet back on Dec. 1 at the Hartland Sports Center, there was more than a game going on.

Off the ice, more than 300 spectators took in the game and donated 86 coats and nearly 100 canned goods. The coats were delivered to three area shelters and the food was donated to the Gleaners Food Bank.

Also at the game, Southwest Elementary music teacher Teresa Wilder and 13 fifth graders from the school performed the “Star Spangled Banner” and also sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” at the intermissions.

Photo of the coats and food collected at the game vs. Tennyson with players from left to right - Myles Grix, Andrew Brownlee, Matt Passino, Zack Parrott and P.J. Krystyniak.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hartland's Longeway on way to recovery

Hartland Hounds’ goaltender Colin Longeway was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago with a season-ending foot injury.

Truth be told, the injury the 19-year-old Pinckney native suffered may have ended his 2012-13 season, but optimism is peaking.

And the injury didn’t even happen on the ice, where Longeway had recorded six wins as the primary backup to Andrew Brownlee.

Instead, a freak accident while on a hunting trip last month has Longeway wondering if his skates and pads have been put away for good.

“I was out hunting with Brownlee and P.J. Krystyniak and we all walked out to our spots,” explained Longeway. “I was climbing over a few logs and the gun fired (straight down into his foot) while I was stepping down. I was in complete shock at first, then started yelling and it took about five minutes for Andy and P.J. to get to me. I immediately knew it was bad. They drove me up to the nearest hospital. Thank God they were there for me.”

Longeway spent the next several days in the hospital and underwent three separate surgeries. While obviously downtrodden about the whole situation, constant visits from Pinckney High School and Hounds’ teammates has kept his spirits well above average.

“The support has been great,” Longeway said. “I had many players I’ve played with come to the hospital to see me and wish me best of luck and it’s made it a lot better. I talk to someone from the Hounds everyday and I’m just hoping to see them all soon. The season up to my injury was amazing, some of the most fun hockey I’ve played and I made some great friends that all got along and we became a family. It was one thing I always looked forward to doing everyday, going to the ice rink to see the boys.”

Once the procedures were done in the operating room, Longeway was faced with the harsh reality that his six wins this season may have been the last of his career.

“My first surgery was to clean out the foot and make sure it doesn’t get infected and then they took a muscle out of my inner thigh to put in my foot,” said Longeway. “The last was just going back in surgery for them to double-check everything and make sure no infections set in. They told me hockey will be done this year, which really made me upset because I love these boys and have had so much fun with them for the time I was there, but the doctors said I should be able to play next year, so we will have to wait and see.”

As a teammate and close friend of Brownlee for the better part of the last 10 years, this season was especially special for Longeway as the two were teammates for the first time since before high school when Longeway played for Pinckney and Brownlee for Howell High School

“I loved playing with Brownlee,” said Longeway. “I’ve played with him my whole life besides high school. He is a brother to me and a great friend. We would always push each other to make each other better.”

In a wheelchair for the time being, Longeway took time to reflect on the past several weeks and realized that from negatives, positives always seem to come to the surface.

“I have learned how dangerous a gun can be and even if you are careful, anything can happen,” Longeway explained. “I found out the hard way, but I know every time I’m going to be even more careful. Going through the pain I went through, I would never want that to happen again. Guns are very dangerous and you have to be very careful with them.”

And even as the surgeons have said playing in the 2013-14 season is a distinct possibility, Longeway wants to do everything he can to get back on the ice at the Hartland Sports Center and continue to partake in what has been a dominant season thus far for the Hounds.

“I have not decided if I’ll be playing hockey again,” said Longeway. “If there is any chance to play with the Hounds this year, I will for sure, but if not, we’ll have to wait and see. Once I can start getting around and walking, I will be training as much and as hard as I can so I can get a chance to get back on the ice. I hope things go as planned and I wish I get the chance to play just one more game with this group of guys on the Hounds. The odds are saying I can’t, so we will just have to see.

“It made it so much fun playing for such a dominant team, I hate losing and playing for the Hounds, I never felt it. There were some close calls, but we always came together as a team and pulled through for each other.”

And now, that brotherhood is as strong as ever as the Hounds rally around their downed teammate.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Jets' rookie defender Burrough fitting in

Myles Burrough was one of many players the Metro Jets scouted heavily last season and while he knew this was certainly the case, it helped Burrough’s decision as to where to play this season that much easier.

When he was offered a tender for the 2012-13 season, Burrough wasted little time putting his signature on it.

“I knew they had a little interest in me and I had talked to them a few times,” said Burrough. “I decide to sign the tender after I went and watched them play and learned more about the league. I knew they had a good team and coach (Jason Cirone).”

A 19-year-old defenseman from Metamora, Burrough has just one assist in 19 games thus far, but offense is not the name of the game for this defensive defenseman, who is also plus-5 on the year.

“My role with the team is to keep the puck out of the net,” stated Burrough. “I am happy with the way the season has gone so far. We have a young team and we are improving greatly. Everyone gets along and is very positive. I think my biggest adjustment has been to the speed of the game and time management.”

Making the jump from Midget AA hockey with the Mt. Clemens Wolves was a major leap, admitted Burrough. If not for his coach last season, he may not have been able to prepare for junior hockey.

“My long-term goals are to keep having fun and playing hockey as long as I can,” Burrough said. “My coach from last year, Andy Oleksy, got me into the right frame of mind to never give up and I think without him, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

JET STREAKS

At the NA3HL Showcase last weekend, the Jets acquired forward Michael Lawrence from the Granite City Lumberjacks, added 17-year-old defenseman Evan Bennett and 16-year-old defender Aaron Bessey and placed defenseman Derek Britton on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

The 19-year-old Lawrence was drafted by Granite City in the 10th round of the 2012 NA3HL draft and is a 19-year-old Mattawan native. Bennett (Kalamazoo) and Bessey (Lansing) are both Michigan natives and made their Jets’ debuts at the showcase.

The NA3HL named Jets’ goalie Alex Nedeljkovic the Goaltender of the Month for November.

Nedeljkovic was in goal for all four of the Jets wins in November as he posted a perfect 4-0 record along with a .942 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. After his four games with Metro, he was sent back to the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, where he started the season.

In the games that the 16-year-old Nedeljkovic didn’t play during the month, Metro was 0-3. In the games he did play, the Jets went 4-0.

“He was in our league to get some experience and he faced quite a few shots in the four games he played,” said Cirone. “I think our team fed off his confidence while he was here and everyone played a little more inspired. I think he brought a certain level of exposure to the team.”

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Forward Kevin Wittenberg, who played briefly with the Jets during the 2008-09 season, is now playing for the Vernon Hills Capitals of the Great Lakes Hockey League, a semi-pro league that has been in existence since 1937.

In the ’08-09 season, Wittenberg had a goal and an assist in 16 games with the Jets.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hosking playing solid 'D' for surging Jets

Josh Hosking started this season with the North American Hockey League’s Jamestown Ironmen, but when he was cut from the team, his next option was only a phone call away.

Literally.

“When I was released from Jamestown, the coach told me to talk to (Metro Jets’ coach) Jason Cirone and I got a call from Jason actually during my drive home the next day,” explained Hosking, a 19-year-old defenseman from Oxford. “Jason has been great. He can be very intimidating at times, but he knows how and when to push the buttons with guys and he knows what he is talking about.

“One thing I learned almost immediately is that he always has us players’ best interests in mind and wants to better every single guy in the room as much as possible.”

Now a fixture on the Jets’ blue line in the North American 3 Hockey League, Hosking logs a regular shift and usually plays a shutdown role against opposing team’s top lines. Hosking said he’s happy with his role in Waterford, but ultimately, wants to move back up to the NAHL.

“I am working to play in all situations, better my skills on the ice and working out everyday to become stronger,” explained Hosking. “I would say my shot and my vision with the puck fit well in the NAHL, but I know I need to work on my foot work.”

On a four-game winning streak, the Jets have seemingly bonded and gelled in recent weeks and when that happens, wins can pile up.

”Everyone is really coming together,” Hosking said. “There has been a lot of bonding and a feeling of really becoming a family around the room. We are playing well as a team since we are playing all the top teams in the league.

“I feel we are proving to people we are better than what our record shows.”

JET STREAKS

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was named the NA3HL’s 1st Star of the Week after his two wins last week against Flint and Michigan.

“The NA3HL is a great league to get him some shots and experience,” said Cirone. “He is very talented and very calm and composed for being just 16 years old. He plays with a lot of confidence and our team has fed off that.”

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Former Metro forward Brad Townsend, who played for the Jets during the 2005-06 season, is playing with the Dayton Demonz of the Federal Hockey League this season.

After his season with the Jets, Townsend, a 25-year-old Davisburg native, played for the Pembroke (Ont.) Lumber Kings in the Central Junior Hockey League and then in 2008-09, played in the International Hockey League with the Flint Generals.

Townsend also had previous pro stops in the FHL and also in the ECHL, All-American Hockey League and Central Hockey League.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grizzel has high hopes for Hartland

Alex Grizzel only joined the Hartland Hounds last weekend and played in the team’s one game against the NWO Grrrowl, but already feels like he’s been with the team since the summer.

Originally signed to play for the MWJHL’s Traverse City Cohos, when that team unfortunately didn’t get off the ground, Grizzel wasn’t without a team.

“(Traverse City coach) Scott Gardiner helped me land a spot on the Hounds roster,” explained Grizzel, an 18-year-old Traverse City native who played last year at Traverse City West High School. “I feel I can bring a lot to the table offensively by scoring goals and making plays. I like big hits and dropping the gloves as well so hopefully, that will get the boys fired up.”

Recording an assist in Hartland’s 5-0 win over the Grrrowl last Friday night, Grizzel came away impressed with the makeup of the Hounds and the league overall.

“The team is great and we have a lot of skill and depth on the roster,” said Grizzel. “(Hartland head coach) Randy (Montrose) is a great guy, a great coach and I’m excited to play for him this season. From what I saw in Toledo, the league looks pretty solid.”

In Hartland, where the vast majority of players are from the Hartland and Howell areas, Grizzel doesn’t see him coming from up north as an issue.

“I feel I fit in fine,” Grizzel said. “In hockey, it does not matter where you’re from. Everyone is just trying to have fun and live the dream.

“I think we have the team to win a national championship this season.”

Friday, November 23, 2012

Olson sees great success with Hounds

Brendan Olson didn’t play any competitive hockey last season or at the start of this season.

Then he got the itch that he wasn’t done lacing up the skates.

Olson then took in a Hartland Hounds’ game in October and that was all he needed.

“I came down and saw the Hounds play and then later that night, I emailed coach (Randy) Montrose and he invited me down for practice,” said Olson, who signed with Hartland on Nov. 2. “I really didn’t know too much about the Hounds or about the MWJHL prior to joining the team. I knew that the Hounds were in first place, but other than that, I didn't know too much.”

A 20-year-old defenseman from Grand Blanc, Olson said he initially wasn’t sure how the players would welcome him to the team, but those worries lasted all of a few seconds.

“I thought it would be hard to adjust when first coming to the team because I didn’t know anyone and they were all very close, but the guys were very good about introducing themselves to me and helping to make me feel part of the team,” explained Olson. “Making the road trip to Bloomington for my first games helped me to spend a lot of extra time with the guys and settle in.

“I hope to bring a physical presence to the Hounds and dependable, consistent defensive zone play.”

Joining an undefeated team might seem a big chore, but Olson said the mood around the 20-0 Hounds “is no different than the mood around a .500 team.”

 “If anything, we are even more focused than an average team,” said Olson. “We all realize that we can’t get too confident and we need to work hard each and every day in order to be fully prepared for tough post-season games. We make sure to play our game night in and night out and stick to our game plan.”

And if that happens, Olson sees even more excitement down the road on a personal and team level.

“My short-term hockey goals are to provide solid defense for the Hounds and to win both the MWJHL championship and a national championship,” said Olson. “My long-term hockey goals are to move up and play the highest level of college hockey that I can. I plan to pursue my hockey career and take it to the highest level that I can through hard work and consistent play.”

HOUNDS NOTEBOOK: Hartland signed forward Alex Grizzel (Traverse City) this week and put goaltender Colin Longeway (Pinckney) on the 30-day injured reserve with a foot injury.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kalamazoo sends two more to college

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the college commitments of forward Mac McDonnell and defenseman Sam Johnson.

McDonnell has committed to play his collegiate hockey at the University of Windsor of the Canadian Intercollegiate Sport League. The team is run by head coach Kevin Hamlin, who has led the Lancers to a 10-2 record so far, which leads the Ontario West division and leaves them ranked No. 5 in the country.

The 20-year-old right-winger from Allen Park joined the Jr. K-Wings just last week from the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in time to skate in his first game in a Kalamazoo sweater against the Michigan Warriors. He made his appearance felt by tallying an assist in Kalamazoo’s 3-2 overtime victory.

Johnson, a two-year veteran of the NAHL, joined Kalamazoo after being traded from the Amarillo Bulls and will be playing at Division III Trinity College of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The school, which has very high academic standards, is a perfect fit for Johnson, whose hobbies include creating iPhone apps, with goals after hockey including owning a software development company.

The Trinity team is currently ranked fourth in their conference.

Johnson is currently tied for the team lead in plus/minus with a +10 rating and was also the first Jr. K-Wing to be named an alternate captain during the active season. He currently wears an “A” with fellow alternate captains Nick Kovalchik, Taylor Burden and Matt Wurst.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jets' rookie Krajewski finding his way

T.J. Krajewski is just 17 years old, but is finding his way through his rookie season with the Metro Jets and learning what Junior A hockey in the North American 3 Hockey League is all about.

Back on Nov. 11 at Battle Creek, the Macomb native and Jets’ defenseman tallied a goal and two assists – all of his points to date – along with a plus-4 rating in a 9-3 win over the Jr. Revolution in just his eighth game of the season.

Playing in just half the Jets’ games entering this week of play, Krajewski has been happy with his current situation.

“My season is going pretty well at this point,” Krajewski said. “It is quite the big jump coming from Midget A hockey (Krajewski played for the Rochester Rattlers last season - pictured), but I knew the NA3HL was a good league to start playing juniors in. It’s really big for me now that I got my first goal out of the way.”

Most players would say they want to keep scoring at a rapid pace as once they get that elusive first goal, they want more.

Not so, said the realistic Krajewski.

“I’m looking to score at least five goals this season,” said Krajewski. “The Jets are a good team and I know (Metro head coach Jason) Cirone will help me out a lot. He is a great coach and knows a lot about the game. As for my teammates, guys like Jeff Monfils, (Jets’ captain) Matt Stirling and Doug Andrews have all helped me through the season the most. I owe a lot to those guys.”

Just getting started in his junior career, Krajewski has some broad goals in mind for the future and wants to keep working to get to where he wants to be.

“Short-term, I just want to improve all of my skills,” Krajewski said. “Long term, I want to move up in the leagues and get a shot at playing college hockey.”

And with his confidence booming after his outbreak against Battle Creek, anything is possible for Krajewski.

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

The Jets (7-8-0-0) sat idle last weekend, but play Wednesday night in Flint and then Sunday afternoon at home against the Michigan Mountain Cats and former Jets’ forward Cam Bruff (2011-12).

JET STREAKS

Of Stirling’s 27 points this season, just six have come on special teams (one shorthanded goal, one power-play goal and four power-play assists), showing how effective the Jets’ captain is playing five-on-five.

Andrews is just as potent five-on-five, with just a power-play goal and three power-play assists among his 25 points this year.

Both have also combined for just 10 penalty minutes (all minors) this season and each are among the top 10 NA3HL scoring leaders.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Two former Jets’ captains currently skate for the Oakland University ACHA Division I team in Adam Novack and Tommy Kilgore.

Novack, a senior, played for the Jets from 2007-09, while Kilgore, a freshman at OU, suited up for the Jets from 2010-12 and also played three games with the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons in early 2011.

Oakland junior forward Art Dore is also an ex-Jet and played for NCAA Division III Becker College prior to coming to OU.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kalamazoo adds Allen Park's McDonnell

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the addition of forward Mac McDonnell.

McDonnell, a 20-year-old right-wing from Allen Park, comes to the Jr. K-Wings after spending the last two seasons with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

In each of the last two seasons, McDonnell played in 62 regular-season games. In 2010-11, he scored eight goals and added 10 assists and last season, McDonnell poured in seven goals and was credited with six assists for 13 points.

McDonnell didn’t suit up this season for the Otters and he is set to join a Kalamazoo team that has lost four of its last five games and is looking for offensive production.

Hounds' Russian import a welcome add

With all the local players on the Hartland Hounds this season, bringing in an “outsider” might disrupt team chemistry, right?

Hardly, even when the new player hails from Russia.

Nik Bakanov arrived in Hartland last month from his native Moscow looking to get exposure to North American hockey with the hopes of making a career here.

So far with the Hounds, the 17-year-old forward has a goal and two assists in five games. As for chemistry, Bakanov said the players have been extremely welcoming.

“I like the guys and I'm friends with all of them and the coaches, the same,” said Bakanov. “I know the league is young and I love the Hounds team because we play smart hockey, not dirty hockey.”

Hartland coach-GM Randy Montrose heard about Bakanov through the hockey grapevine and thought he’d be a good fit in Hartland.

Turns out, Montrose was right.

“Nik is a kid we heard was interested in coming to play over here, so we made some calls,” explained Montrose. “We play a very European style of hockey in moving the puck, things like that, and that has helped Nik fit in immediately. We’re working with him everyday to make him comfortable here and he’s working with us to make that happen.”

Bakanov said he played on some very strong teams back home and one day, he hopes to play for his favorite team, the Moscow Dynamo, a team that currently sports Alexander Ovechkin on its roster.

Still, Bakanov’s move to Michigan is making him realize that there are many opportunities in North America.

“I'm interested in American hockey because I have never been to America and I like leagues like the OHL and the USHL,” said Bakanov. “Not many friends from Russia have played in these leagues, but I want to work and train to get there.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jets' rookie finds 'Holm' in Waterford

It appears Alex Holm’s adjustment period going from AAA hockey to the North American 3 Hockey League is over.

After recording just one goal over his first 11 games this season with the Metro Jets, Holm quadrupled his goal total with three last weekend as the Jets beat the Flint Jr. Generals and Battle Creek Jr. Revolution.

Holm, a 17-year-old West Bloomfield native, also finished with a plus-5 rating for the weekend.

According to Holm, it was only a matter of time before his offense started to click and the team started to gel.

 “I feel that the season started off a little rough and we were playing our own style of hockey, but now we’re coming together as a team and listening to (head coach Jason) Cirone and getting the job done because our own ways of playing games doesn't work,” said Holm, who played in the North American Prospects Hockey League last season with the Detroit Falcons U-18 team (pictured). “The jump to the NA3 was pretty big, though. I had to adjust to the speed of the game and the physical play.”

Jets’ veteran Travis Hargett has been a big help in getting acclimated to junior hockey, said Holm.

“Hargett has showed me the ropes about all the rules and details the NA3 has,” Holm said. “Before this season, I knew that the Jets moved a lot of players on to play higher levels of hockey, so that was very appealing to me. I have also learned that Cirone is a very good coach. He knows his hockey and also has a very good hockey background and can teach me a lot on the ice and off the ice.”

Still, when asked what he most wants to accomplish this season, Holm strayed from personal numbers.

”I just want to make the playoffs,” said Holm. “Our long-term goal would be to take the Silver Cup. If we keep playing the way we did last weekend, we have the team that can match up against anyone in this league.”

JET STREAKS

Late last week, the Jets released goaltender Luke DuBois and forward Ian Springfield.

DuBois went 1-1-0 this season with a 4.29 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage, while Springfield tallied two goals in 12 games.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Defenseman Vinnie Pietrangelo, who played for the Jets back in 2009-10 after being their top draft pick in the 2009 CSHL draft, is now in his junior season at Division III Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich.

Unfortunately, Pietrangelo fractured his collarbone in early September and not expected to return until January.

Another ex-Jet, forward Todd Knaus, is also playing for Finlandia, but is out with a knee injury. Pietrangelo and Knaus were teammates at Traverse City West High School as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saginaw trades for Bulls' d-man Shaw

The Saginaw Spirit announced Monday that they have acquired overage defenseman Jason Shaw from the Belleville Bulls in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2013 OHL draft, a pick that was originally property of the Barrie Colts.

So far in 19 games with the Bulls this season, the Belleville, Ont., native has four assists.

Shaw began his OHL career with Niagara in the 2009-10 season, appearing in 17 games before briefly moving on to the QMJHL.

In 63 career games with Belleville, Shaw has recorded one goal and 20 assists for 21 points.

Shaw, the is younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks' forward and former OHL skater Andrew Shaw, is expected he will be in the lineup when the Spirit play host to the Plymouth Whalers tomorrow night.

Photo courtesy OHL Images

Friday, November 09, 2012

Parrott playing mature game in Hartland

Zack Parrott barely remembers the Detroit Red Wings winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997-98.

That’s because the Hartland Hounds’ defenseman was only born in 1997, making him the youngest player on the Hounds’ roster and the youngest in all of the Midwest Junior Hockey League.

On the ice, one would hardly realize Parrott is but a sophomore in high school.

In two of his last three games, he has dropped the gloves and fared well. Then again, that’s part of Parrott’s game.

“I have always tried to play more physical and don't back down from anybody,” said Parrott. “I am not afraid to go in the corners or battle in front of the net. Really, I try to follow Nick Lidstrom's way of playing. He played solid every night and didn't try to get fancy – just a solid stay-home defenseman.”

Playing most nights against players up to five years his senior, Parrott is also used to that.

He played on the Howell High School junior varsity team (pictured) when he was in eighth grade and also skated with the JV squad during the 2011-12 season.

“I have always wanted to play for (Hartland coach) Randy (Montrose) and his coaches,” Parrott said. “When I went to tryouts, I felt I played well and when Randy offered me a spot on the Hounds, I thought it would be a great opportunity, so I happily accepted.

“I get along great with all of the guys on the team. They don't treat me any differently because of my age. Playing in this league with guys that are all older than I am forces me to play at my best every night to make up for my age.”

Parrott, who sees himself playing college hockey down the road, went on to say that being on the MWJHL’s top team record-wise has helped to shape him into a leader.

“Every teammate has taught me something different about playing at this level,” said Parrott. “We have great leadership in our captains, Jake Henrikson, Max Biggings and Jared Vincek, who always lead by example, but every player is a leader on this team.

“I am very proud to be a part of the Hounds. We are a strong team with lots of talented players. We have battled through this season so far and we need to keep working hard to get better every day.”

More transactions for Jr. K-Wings

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced a number of roster transactions that have been completed in the last couple days.

First, defenseman Sean Campbell has been traded to the Michigan Warriors for future considerations. Campbell, who has been in the NAHL the past two seasons, played in 15 games this season with Kalamazoo, but wasn’t able to register a point. He logged two penalty minutes and was a minus-1.

The season before, the East Lansing native skated in 36 contests and posted seven points on one goal and six assists. He was also plus-4 with 49 penalty minutes.

In a separate transaction, Kalamazoo has traded future considerations to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons to acquire defenseman Cole Pierce. The 19-year-old rookie defenseman from Grand Ledge dressed in 14 games for the Fighting Falcons and tallied one assist, was plus-2 and picked up two penalty minutes.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder adds to a blue line core that looks almost brand-new compared to how the season started after getting Mark Esshaki back from injury and acquiring Sam Johnson and Brendan Vetter through trades earlier in the season.

Lastly, Kalamazoo has released defenseman Kyle Ware.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Jets' goalie trio works well on, off the ice

The Metro Jets are familiar with the philosophy that defense wins games and to a greater extent, wins championships.

With the last line of defense starting in goal, the Jets have three very capable goaltenders this season that have all shown the ability to play at the North American 3 Hockey League level.

Luke DuBois, Austin Julvezan and Trevor Kalinowski are all rookies in the NA3HL, but all have earned wins for the Jets this season. What’s more is that the trio gets along off the ice and pushes each other on the ice.

Essentially, it’s a win-win situation for all three goalies.

“The friendly competition is good,” said Julvezan. “I've always gotten along with my goalie partners, but playing with these guys is easy. We all support each other when it's not our game. We get along outside of the rink pretty well. These guys are just easy to be around and we always have a good time.”

“The competition between us three goalies is what I've enjoyed most this season,” added DuBois. “We push each other to be at our best and always stay positive no matter who is between the pipes on a given day.”

Kalinowski (pictured), who played at Lakeland High School last season and has seen the bulk of action thus far for Metro, currently leads the Jets with three wins, while DuBois and Julvezan have one apiece.

“I feel the season has gone fairly well,” said Kalinowski. “I’ve certainly learned a lot and still have more to learn from my coaches and my teammates. We all seem to be bonding very close to each other. I consider this year a big leap in the right direction for my hockey career, since I split last season with a senior on Lakeland’s varsity team.”

Julvezan played the 2011-12 season for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, going all the way to the Division I state semifinals before losing to Brighton High School and current Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks’ rookie goalie Christian Michalik.

“My season has gone well so far,” Julvezan said. “Going from a starter to rotating was hard to get used to at first, but I'm really starting to feel myself excel. The jump from where I played last season compared to the NA3 was minor. The speed of the game hasn't changed by much, but the shots are harder and more accurate. Before this season, I knew the NA3 had become a better level of play and had improved from what people used to perceive it as.”

During the 2011 NA3HL Entry Draft, DuBois was actually drafted by the Flint Jr. Generals, but chose to stay and play his senior season at Gabriel Richard High School. When the chance came up this season for him to join the Jets, there was no hesitation.

“I have had a decent season thus far and I have some things that I can work on, but I feel as if I've performed when given the opportunity,” DuBois said. “The jump to the NA3 was large compared to the level of my team last season, though I was used to the fast paced style of play from participating in the MDHL and other showcases. I don't really have any set goals for the season. I enjoy seeing our team win and would rather have my team win than have personal goals fulfilled. Before this season I was pretty familiar with the NA3 and have known (Jets assistant and goalie) coach (Randy) Wilson for quite awhile.”

Each goalie also said they hope to jump to the North American Hockey League next season with an eye on playing in college one day.

“I just want to take it as it comes,” Julvezan said.

 “I would just like to keep hockey a part of my life in any way possible,” added DuBois.

So who gets the start Saturday night against Flint? That is the $64,000 question.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Falcons' defender Auk MTU-bound

The Port Huron Fighting Falcons have announced the commitment of defenseman Mark Evan Auk to play NCAA Division I hockey at Michigan Tech University, a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Auk, a 17-year-old defenseman from Grosse Pointe Park, is currently in his first year with the Fighting Falcons after leading the University Liggett Knights to the Division 3 Michigan state high school hockey championship last year.

Auk ranks in the top 10 in scoring for all NAHL defensemen with two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 20 games.

“Mark Evan is just starting to develop into a top defenseman and Michigan Tech will be getting an excellent player and person when Mark Evan steps on that campus,” said Port Huron coach-GM Michael Gershon. “We have tried to make sure that he is playing two-way hockey, but his offensive abilities have shined through. He takes good care of the puck and continues to be a very pleasant surprise for us this season.”

Auk was named the Combat Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month back in September, where he recorded eight points from the blueline (two goals, six assists) in 10 games played during the month, helping the Fighting Falcons to first place in the North Division during the month.

“It has been the best year so far for me in hockey-wise and I have learned a lot in just the couple of months that I have been here,” said Auk. “At this level, mistakes can really cost you, so I have tried to make smart decisions with and without the puck. I think we have a smart and experienced team. We get better as the game goes along and I think that has played into our success thus far.”

Auk becomes the second player to commit to college this season for the Fighting Falcons after Ian Miller, who had previously committed to Lake Superior State.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

D-man Cebalt a quiet force for Hounds

Garrett Cebalt is one of those quiet players for the Hartland Hounds that simply goes out, does his job on the back end and does it consistently.

An unsung hero for sure, but the 18-year-old from Milford is happy with his role and will continue to handle shut down duties as long as the Hounds keep winning.

Coming from high school hockey, Cebalt knew he would need to step his game up a notch and so far, he’s done just that.

“It's a pretty big jump going from high school to juniors,” Cebalt said. “All the players are better and faster, which means you have to be as well. Everything is different. There are more road trips, team bonding sessions, more games, the longer season, better teams and players.

“My expectations for this season are to improve myself as a player in all aspects of my game. Long term, I would like to keep playing hockey as long as I can, but right now, I want to focus on the good thing we have going in Hartland.”

Being one of the many local players on the team means Cebalt found his niche almost immediately on the team.

“Everyone gets along great,” said Cebalt. “I have seen no problems between anyone. We all seem like brothers on and off the ice.”

On the ice, Cebalt said his game is keeping it simple.

”I feel like I have a more defensive role on the team,” said Cebalt. “I just want to keep the puck out of our zone and make that good defensive play to stop a goal.”

So far, so good.

Jets' Palushaj making name for himself

Andrew Palushaj has some pretty good hockey bloodlines and has brought them to the Metro Jets this year after starting the season in the North American Hockey League.

The cousin of Aaron Palushaj, a former University of Michigan star with 41 games of NHL experience under his belt with the Montreal Canadiens, Andrew played 19 games last year with the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes (pictured) after an All-State season in 2010-11 at Livonia Stevenson High School.

Making the jump to Junior A was an adjustment at first for Palushaj, but one he feels is now under control.

“I feel that the season has been going pretty good so far,” said the 19-year-old Livonia native. “We are starting to figure things out as a team and are becoming better everyday. It's a pretty big jump because the league has a faster pace and is a lot more physical. I would love to get the chance to play at the NAHL level again, but right now, I'm just working on my skills and trying to become a better hockey player each day I come to the rink.”

Palushaj even admitted that he sometimes gets mistaken for his cousin or asked if Aaron is his brother, but he doesn’t mind the attention at all.

“I think that what he accomplished is amazing and he made his dream a reality,” Andrew said of Aaron. “I would love to be able to get to where he is today. I give him a lot of credit for what he does. He shows that if you work hard enough that you can accomplish anything you want to and I am very proud of him and want nothing but the best for him as he continues his hockey career.”

Before coming to the Jets and the North American 3 Hockey League, Palushaj said he didn’t know a great deal about the team or the league. He said he has since realized that both provide great opportunities for advancing up the hockey ladder.

“I would love to win a championship with this team and I think we have a great set of guys and have the ability to do it if we work hard enough this season,” Palushaj said. “I didn't know that much about the league as a whole, but I knew the Jets had been known to move a lot of players on to higher levels and that made me want to be a part of this organization.”

Palushaj also gave props to Jets’ head coach Jason Cirone.

“I think coach Jason is a great guy and has a lot to offer to our team,” noted Palushaj. “He has a lot of hockey sense and a great hockey background. I think I can learn a lot from him that will help benefit me on and off the ice.”

Thinking towards the future, Palushaj has a game plan and one he hopes can fulfill to the highest degree.

“My short-term hockey goal would be to help benefit this team any way I can and keep scoring as much as I can,” said Palushaj. “My long-term goal would be to hopefully get a scholarship so I can keep playing.”

And with nine points in eight games this season, the Jets are banking on him providing offense and leadership that will trickle down to the rest of the players.

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

The Flint Jr. Generals scored late in the third period to knot the game at 3-all, but the Jets eked out a 4-3 win in a shootout last Friday night at Lakeland Arena to extend their winning streak to three games.

Palushaj scored two goals for the Jets, while captain Matt Stirling had a goal and two assists and Mike Gambino a goal and an helper.

“The Flint game was an all-around great game,” Stirling said. “We played well in every area of the ice and stayed out of the penalty box to get the win. That is the way we should play every night and what it will take to win key games in this league.”

Flint led 2-1 after two periods before Palushaj and Stirling scored in the third to put the Jets ahead.

Nick Gnagni recorded the equalizer at 19:08 of the third with goalie Patrick Drazkowski on the bench for the extra attacker.

In the shootout, Metro goalie Austin Julvezan stopped three of the four Flint shooters and picked up his first win of the season. Julvezan made 24 saves in the game.

Drazkowski finished with 32 saves in the Flint net, while Eddie Osowski had a goal and an assist.

The Jets (5-6-0-0) face the Michigan Mountain Cats on the road in Fraser this Saturday night before returning home Sunday afternoon to host the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks at 2:50 p.m.

“I expect for us to come out with four points as we need them to keep pace in our division,” said Stirling. “These teams are both talented and can be tough to play against if you don’t prepare all week for them. I expect Michigan to be aggressive all over the ice and to be able to keep pace with us for 60 minutes. Cleveland we have played before and know what kind of effort it will take to play them.

“Both games will be a challenge, but if we play how we know we can, we should come out with four points.”

JET STREAKS

Stirling’s 19 points are good for a sixth-place tie among NA3HL scoring leaders, while Doug Andrews’ 18 points puts him in an 11th-place tie.

Goaltender Trevor Kalinowski is in the top 10 for save percentage (.905) and goals-against average (2.81).

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Jon Cooper coached the Jets to the 2002 Silver Cup Junior B national title and has seemingly won everywhere he has been since.

Cooper guided the St. Louis Bandits to consecutive NAHL titles, the Green Bay Gamblers to a United States Hockey League crown and last year, won an American Hockey League Calder Cup with the Norfolk Admirals, the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This season, Cooper is back with the Tampa Bay organization as head coach of the Syracuse Crunch after being rumored to make the jump to the NHL over the summer.

Photo by David Byerly/Odessa Jackalopes

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jr. K-Wings make slew of roster moves

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings announced Tuesday a number of roster transactions that have been completed in the last 24 hours.

First, forward Nolan Culver has been traded to the Bay State Breakers of the Eastern Junior Hockey League for future considerations. Culver had seen action in 15 games during the season, in which he was able to post three goals and five assists for eight points while playing to a +4 rating. The 19-year-old Sylvania, Ohio native will head out to Rockland, Mass., to play with the Tier III Junior A team.

In a separate transaction, Kalamazoo has shipped Jacob McDowell to the Fresno Monsters (NAHL) for forward Mikhail Bushinski. Bushinski is a 20-year-old native of Woodbury, Minn., who was the leading scorer for the Monsters at the time of the trade. He is a two-year veteran of the NAHL and was fourth on the team in scoring last season (17 goals, 16 assists, 33 points). Bushinski also showed great durability last season as he was the only member of Fresno that played in all 60 regular-season games. He is set to make his debut on Saturday against the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

 In yet another move, Kalamazoo traded future considerations to the Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) for defenseman Brendan Vetter, an 18-year-old defenseman who hails from Fon Du Lac, Wis. He, too, has a year of NAHL experience under his belt, but has only dressed in two games this year due to injury. In 55 career games, he has 14 points (14 assists) and is a career +9. He was a former teammate of Jr. K-Wing Sam Johnson and also played alongside Brett Beauvais at last year's NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the 18U Selects team.

Lastly, Kalamazoo has released defenseman Donovan Gardiner.

Muskegon's Foguth picks MSU Mavericks

The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced that defenseman Carter Foguth has decided to play his college hockey for the Minnesota State Mavericks of the WCHA beginning in the 2013-14 season.

This season, Foguth currently has two points (goal, assist) in ten games with Lumberjacks.

The first two years with the team, Foguth accumulated eleven points (one goal and ten assists) in 89 games.

“I am very excited for being given the opportunity to play hockey at the college level; the coaching staff and players at the university made me feel welcome and right at home,” said Foguth. “It has been a long journey for my family and I and I am grateful to have received an immense amount of support from the Mervis family and the Muskegon Lumberjacks.”

Foguth was acquired by the Lumberjacks in free agency in July of 2010 and is in his third season with the team. Prior to coming to the Lumberjacks, Foguth spent the 2009-10 season with the Marquette Rangers of the NAHL, where he tallied nine points (one goal and eight assists) in 45 games.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kalamazoo adds Swedish goalie Due-Boje

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the addition of Swedish goaltender Marcus Due-Boje.

The 19-year-old has an extensive resume, including representing Sweden at the U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament and the U17 World Hockey Challenge.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound netminder hasn’t had a taste of hockey in the states, aside from his brief stint in the USHL during the preseason with the Tri-City Storm.

While playing with Djurgarden J20 in Stockholm last season, Due-Boje appeared in 30 games, posting a goals-against average of 2.63 and a save percentage of .904.

Due-Boje is the son of Christian Due-Boje, a member of the Swedish team that won the gold medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Newcomer Sergott back home with Hounds

Trevor Sergott has come home to the Hartland Hounds.

After starting the season in the Eastern Junior Hockey League with the Bay State Breakers, Sergott wanted more of an opportunity and decided to return to the friendly confines of home where the Hounds were more than welcoming.

“I heard about the Hounds from some of my old teammates from Howell High School who now play on the Hounds,” said Sergott. “I also know (Hartland coach) Randy Montrose from playing for him (at Howell) my freshman and junior years, so I know what kinds of systems he runs and what to expect.

“I am no stranger in the Hounds locker room. I have played with the majority of the guys before and two of my teammates, Jake Henrikson and Scott Augustyn, have been my best friends throughout all of high school.”

And if the surname Sergott sounds familiar, it should.

Keith Sergott, Trevor’s father, is a longtime CCHA referee and worked the 2012 Frozen Four. He also played at Ferris State University in the 1980s.

The younger Sergott, who also played AAA hockey for Belle Tire and Victory Honda, wants to make a name for himself as well.

“I am an offensive defenseman who likes to rush the puck, but also loves to play physical,” said Sergott. “I play hard every game and always think of myself as being hard to play against. I don’t look for fights, but I will always protect my teammates and drop the gloves if necessary.”

“Trevor is a very exciting player,” said Montrose. “He loves to hit and opponents always take note when he’s on the ice. He is a very honest player and a very hard-working player. I have seen him develop immensely over the years and so far, he has made the transition to junior hockey a seamless one.”

Doing whatever it takes to help the Hounds get two points each night is the ultimate goal for Sergott and if some individual success results, it’ll be gravy.

“This season from a personal standpoint, I hope to talk to some Division III schools and hopefully, get some offers,” Sergott said. “From a team standpoint, I expect nothing less than a national championship.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Britton adds size to Metro blue line

Derek Britton came to the Metro Jets by way of a trade from the Toledo Cherokee in late August and he has helped to solidify a blue line that was perhaps average at best coming into the season.

Britton has done more than just add depth to the Jets’ defense. He has brought a much-needed size factor (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) and usually is matched up with the opponent’s top line most nights.

For Britton, though, the trade back to his home state wasn’t something he requested, but was something he gladly accepted.

”The trade occurred because there were many obligations I had close to home,” said Britton, a 19-year-old Sterling Heights native. “I was enrolled in college courses, working full time and had an old car that couldn’t make the commute to Toledo. Although (Toledo) coach (Scott) Syring had wanted me on his team, he was willing to make the trade and encouraged me to keep playing hockey.

“I did not set out to be traded, but I knew it needed to be done if I wanted to keep playing. I feel lucky to have had two great coaches last year and this year who push to get the most out of me. It was nice that they put my best interests ahead of everything.”

In the deal, the Jets sent defenseman Zach Schlacht to the Cherokee.

Through 10 games, Britton feels he has found his role with the Jets and is fitting on with his new teammates.

“This Jets team has a mix of experienced and talented young players,” explained Britton. “It has been very easy to adjust because I have played with and against some of my teammates. I was also familiar with (Metro) coach (Jason) Cirone and his expectations from past tryouts and speaking with friends who have played for him. I feel I fit in well with this team by supporting our defensive line and providing leadership for the younger players. I try to teach them what I have learned from my past and teach them to work hard every shift.”

And if the old adage that states hard work pays off holds true, Britton will see it happen in Waterford first-hand.

”My personal target is to keep working hard to improve my skills to make it to college or the next level,” said Britton. “I will do this by defending our side of the ice in any situation. My main focus is to stop scoring chances against us by getting the puck to our forwards as fast as possible. I need to make sure I am in the right position at all times for positive results.

”From a team standpoint, we need to keep working hard in practice so the wins keep coming to make it to the finals. I know this is tough, but we can do it if we work hard and do our jobs on the ice. This can and will happen if we work together as a team.”

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

The Jets sat idle last weekend after sweeping the Quad City Jr. Flames Oct. 13-14 at Lakeland Arena.

Metro (4-6-0-0) hosts the Flint Jr. Generals Friday night at 7:50 p.m. at home in its lone game of the weekend.

“Flint is always a good team,” said Metro captain Matt Stirling. “We always seem to have close games with them and they always bring a good effort every time we play them. With one game this week, we need to leave it all out on the ice to get the two points.”

JET STREAKS

Through 10 games this season, forward Travis Hargett has scored six goals – equaling his total goal output his first two seasons when he played 76 games.

Forward Doug Andrews has recorded a point in all but one game this season. His 17 points are good for a sixth-place tie among league scoring leaders.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Dwight Parrish, a forward from the early days of the Jets’ franchise, retired from a long pro career in 2009 that saw stops in the American Hockey League, International Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League and in England.

Parrish, a 40-year-old Southfield native, also skated four years at Ferris State University from 1992-96.

His No. 17 jersey was retired by the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Manchester (England) Phoenix in 2009.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Port Huron announces coaching change

The Port Huron Fighting Falcons have announced that head coach and general manager Steve Shannon has been relieved of his duties by the team effective immediately.

Assistant coach Michael Gershon has been named the interim head coach and general manager by owner/governor Maribeth Hayes.

Gershon (pictured) met with and informed the Port Huron players about the decision on Tuesday afternoon.

“For us moving forward, it is business as usual right now as we prepare for a big series this weekend against the Jamestown Ironmen,” said Gershon. “I think in order to maintain stability, we just need to focus on what we can control on the ice. The team is off to a good start and has been playing well, so we are looking forward to the series and focusing solely on that.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Falcons' Miller commits to Lake Superior

The Port Huron Fighting Falcons have announced the commitment of forward Ian Miller to play next season at Lake Superior State University (CCHA).

Miller, a Fraser native, is currently in his third year with the Fighting Falcons after being acquired from the Michigan Warriors during the 2010-11 season. Miller had a breakout year in 2012, leading the team in goals (26) and was second in points (38).

Currently, Miller is second in scoring on the Falcons with eight points (three goals, five assists) in 14 games.

“I congratulate Ian Miller on his commitment to Lake Superior State," said Port Huron coach-GM Steve Shannon. "His hard work and dedication has paid off and I believe he will have a very fine college career.”

Miller is the first player to commit to college this season for the Fighting Falcons.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jr. K-Wings' defender Beauvais picks BSU

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced that defenseman Brett Beauvais has committed to play college hockey at Bemidji State University (WCHA).

Beauvais, an 18-year-old playing in his second year in the NAHL, got himself initially noticed with a fantastic rookie year last season in which he played in all 60 regular season games, posting 20 points (four goals, 16 assists).

As the youngest player on the Kalamazoo roster, he made an immediate impact on the back end for the Jr. K-Wings. He was able to perform in special teams situations and was always a steady defenseman with great puck-moving ability. He was also a member of the NAHL’s Top Prospects Young Guns team.

Beauvais, a Summerside, PEI, native, also had a spectacular 2012 NAHL Showcase tournament in front of over 200 scouts from all levels, by producing five assists in four games for Kalamazoo. So far on the season, Beauvais has six points in nine games played.

“Brett has established himself as one of the top defenseman in the NAHL,” said Kalamazoo coach Marc Fakler. “Our organization is proud of Brett for achieving this tremendous opportunity. We look forward to Brett continuing the season as a leader of this team.”

Beauvais becomes the second Jr. K-Wing to already make a college commitment during the 2012-13 season, joining Robbie Payne, who will play at Northern Michigan University.

Photo courtesy NAHL

Jets' newcomer Campbell making mark

Aksel Campbell has gone from Colorado to Pittsburgh to Waterford in just over two months’ time.

One of the newest Metro Jets’ defensemen, Campbell is hoping his latest stop is his last this season.

Acquired by the Jets from the Three Rivers Vengeance two weeks ago, Campbell has taken to Metro’s systems in a heartbeat and is excited at the potential the Jets have shown in his four games so far.

“I was very surprised by the trade from Pittsburgh, but I know that (Three Rivers) coach Brian (Cersosimo) is doing what he thinks is best for me and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach,” said Campbell, an 18-year-old native of Lone Tree, Colo. ”I didn’t realize I was going to be moving out until about the middle of last year. I hadn’t even looked into juniors until my last year of high school. It was a tough decision to move so far from home, but it has been worth it.”

Campbell played six games with the Vengeance after joining the team as a rookie this season. According to Jets’ coach Jason Cirone, Campbell has looked anything but like a rookie in his four games since the trade.

“Aksel has been fitting in really good for us,” said Cirone. “I thought our ‘D’ was a concern at the beginning of the year and now it’s starting to round itself out with the additions of (Brian) Ziola, (Josh) Hosking and Aksel. All these guys bring a dimension to our team that we really missed and lacked in the beginning.”

Campbell is the first Colorado native to suit up for the Jets since Jimmy Sanders in the early 2000s and Chance Thede, who went on to play in goal for Division I American International College, in the mid-1990s.

Campbell feels he can be an offensive defenseman for the Jets and said he likes moving the puck in the offensive zone from the point to try and create scoring chances for the forwards.

Getting acclimated with the Waterford area has been on Campbell’s agenda as well.

”Waterford is different than home, but there are still some similarities,” Campbell said. “I really like all the people out here and the cold winter is a lot like winter in Colorado.”

Now entrenched on Metro’s back end, Campbell wants to get down to business and help tack on a few more wins for the Jets.

”I’m going to strive for team success this season and try to grow as much as I can as a player,” explained Campbell. “I just have to keep working hard so I can try to move to the next level. “So far, everything with the Jets has been great and I have been getting along really well with all the guys. Coach Cirone has been great, too, I’m excited to see where we can take it as a team this year.”

Kerr making plays, getting into the grind

Thomas Kerr is the type of player fans notice right from the get-go.

Kerr, a forward with the Hartland Hounds, can score goals in bunches and he can rack up hits in bunches.

Or both.

So far this season for the Hounds, the 18-year-old Howell native is third on the team scoring list with 16 points on seven goals and nine assists.

“It’s hard to describe my game, but I’m an offensive player who is all about getting goals and making the plays,” said Kerr. “I like moving the puck and setting up plays, but I always will stand up for my team. I play an aggressively-natured game and am not scared to get into the grind as well.”

Kerr, who played at Howell High School for Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose, is comfortable in his Hartland surroundings.

“I know the type of coach Randy is and he always wants to see you improve and works hard to get his players to move on,” Kerr said. “If you give him 100 percent, he returns the favor. It was an easy transition for me because I’ve played for Randy and with all the boys before and I feel like I fit into the pace of juniors very well.

“This year, I hope to improve my game and give myself options to continue playing hockey at a higher junior level or in college. I just want to do as best I can for this team, work my hardest everyday and have no regrets when it comes to this season.”

As a big contributor to the 12-0-0 Hounds’ start, Kerr realizes this is still the start to what is shaping up to be a fun season.

 “On a team level, I have great expectations for this team and I know we are going to do great things this year,” said Kerr. “I don’t expect this team to have many losses and the ones we do have, I know the other team is going to have to earn every second of it. That’s how we’re coached and that’s how we want to play. Plain and simple.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hartland's Bodziak close to joining team

As each day goes by, Zak Bodziak is getting closer and closer to putting on a Hartland Hounds’ jersey and suiting up in a game.

It’s been a long time coming.

Bodziak injured his shoulder in a game last year with Davenport University and then decided to play for the Hounds this season. The 19-year-old forward was one of the first signings for Hartland coach Randy Montrose over the summer, but has been working instead at getting his shoulder to 100 percent.

“I haven't been doing much rehab, but more along the lines of getting in the gym and trying to strengthen the muscle to prevent future injury,” said Bodziak, a Hartland native. ”The shoulder is feeling a lot better. I am starting not to feel major soreness after I lift, so hopefully that means it will be strong for me all season. My standards are set high just like anybody else, so we will just have to wait to see what happens.”

Not being on the ice has been a difficult task for Bodziak to face. He shouldn’t have to wait much longer as he believes doctors will clear him to play towards the end of October or at the beginning of November.

“I believe since I have decided to come back and play, watching from the sidelines is not something I can do,” Bodziak said. “It is almost as if I have to been on the ice to be satisfied. I have realized hockey means a lot to me and I can't not play.”

With the Hounds storming out of the gates in the inaugural Midwest Junior Hockey League season to the tune of a perfect 9-0-0 record thus far, Bodziak is pumped to join a team that he felt would be successful back in August.

”I feel the Hounds already have a lot of offensive power and I am hoping I can add to that,” said Bodziak. “I also want to contribute to defensive-zone coverage. The only thing I am going to try to do is play my best for the team and hopefully by playing my best, something will come out of it.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hargett making points count for Jets

Travis Hargett is hoping the third season with the Metro Jets is the charm.

So far, it has been for the 18-year-old Clarkston native as he has been scoring more than he did his first two years and has seen his ice time increase.

“Personally, I think that this year I have made huge strides in my game in my hockey sense and my ability to score,” noted Hargett, who has five goals and an assist through eight games. “I've been playing a lot more and having the confidence knowing that (Metro coach) Jason (Cirone) trusts me enough to put me on the ice in certain situations, like when we pull our goalie. I would say that so far this year in eight games, I am happy with the way I have played, but I still know that I can do better.”

Off the ice, Hargett has become much more acclimated to the lifestyle of playing junior hockey in the North American 3 Hockey League.

 “I know what to expect when I come to practice during the week and the difference between an early-week skate and a practice right before an important weekend,” said Hargett.

In his rookie season of 2010-11, Hargett posted just seven points and last year, he had 15 points. He is on pace to record greater numbers this season and part of that notion is how offensively-gifted the Jets seem to be this season.

”At camp this year, I knew right away that our team wouldn't have a problem putting the puck in the net,” said Hargett. “Scoring goals has not been an issue for us this year, just as it wasn’t last year. With our team, it’s being consistently defensively sound for the whole game.”

Playing mostly on a forward line this season with Alex Holm and Jeff Monfils, Hargett said the trio “plays together really well.”

“I love those guys and we usually know where the other two are on the ice and we make some really good plays,” explained Hargett. “We have a lot of fun together in the locker room and off the ice, too.”

On the ice lately, the Jets have not had too much fun as the team is embroiled in a six-game losing streak that began after a season-opening sweep at home of Battle Creek. Hargett isn’t ready to push the panic button, nor does he plan on it.

”The main thing to keep the guys focused is definitely knowing that it’s not an eight-game season,” said Hargett. “We have 40 more games and I know we will be OK and things will come around. We just need to keep working hard and keep our heads up.”

Taking his own advice is also something Hargett plans on doing to help further his career and get the Jets some more notches in the win column.

”This year I want to play my best, plain and simple,” Hargett said. “I will go where the road takes me and would consider both staying in junior hockey or playing in college.”

Photo courtesy Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Saginaw obtains OA Sutch from Colts

The Saginaw Spirit announced this week that the team has completed a deal with the Barrie Colts, obtaining overage forward Gregg Sutch from for the Spirit’s fifth-round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.

The Newmarket, Ont., native has appeared in 213 OHL games after being the Sarnia Sting’s first-round selection (11th overall) in 2008. Sutch has recorded 27 goals, and 45 assists for 72 points along with 276 penalty minutes while suiting up for the Sting, Mississauga Majors and Colts in his OHL career.

Originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres, Sutch is now a free agent in terms of his NHL status.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward has Memorial Cup experience going back to his days in Mississauga when the Majors hosted the event in 2011.

Sutch’s arrival brings the Spirit’s overage player number to four as he joins Garret Ross, Carlos Amestoy and Brandon Archibald.

Photo courtesy CHL Images

Jets' rookie Gambino progessing well

The Metro Jets liked forward Mike Gambino so much last season that on draft day this past June, the Jets made a major deal with Quad City to move up to No. 5 in the first round to nab the slick-skating 18-year-old from Livonia Churchill High School.

Now a few weeks into the North American 3 Hockey League season, Gambino has seven points in his first six games and seems to be fitting in well and adjusting to junior hockey.

In fact, when Metro coach Jason Cirone was asked if Gambino has played as he hoped he would, Cirone answered, “Well, yes and no.”

“On the offensive side, Gambino has done an outstanding job for us,” said Cirone. “There is no doubt about that. The reason I said ‘no’ is that I never knew the kid could play as physical as he’s been this year. He’s definitely brought a new element to our team this season.”

"The NA3 is a lot more physical than I had expected, but I like playing a physical game, so it's not a huge adjustment for me," Gambino said. "I would say this league is what I expected and then some. The guys on our team are awesome and I'm having a great time. I like to get to a good start early in the season. if I don't, then I feel pressure on myself to produce and it just makes me play worse. I am very comfortable on the ice."

At 6-foot and 185 pounds, Gambino has the size to make an impact in the NA3HL, but more than that, he’s a player that wants to keep learning and wants to get better.

"Our captain, Matt Stirling, has probably been the biggest help to me," said Gambino. "If there's anything that I'm doing in practice, in games, or even the locker room that I should be doing, he always has something to say to help me out."

“He has great speed and you always need that up front at any level of hockey,” said Cirone. “Mike is also learning to play well in his own end and that’s something good players do – they excel on both sides of the puck and in all three zones.

“I think Gambino is the type of player North American Hockey League teams want and I think if he keeps improving as much as he has so far, he will have his pick of NAHL teams for next season.”

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Hounds' Schumacher has lofty goals

Bobby Schumacher says he’s comfortable playing at the junior level for the Hartland Hounds and said he’s adapted to the pace of the Midwest Junior Hockey League from the high school level where he played for four years.

Schumacher captained the Lakeland High School squad (pictured) to its first regional championship in 32 years last spring and wants to taste that same measure of success with the Hounds this season.

“I wound up playing for the Hounds through my old coach (at Lakeland, Tim Ronayne) telling me about (Hartland coach-GM Randy) Montrose building up a new team and I was interested. His teams (at Howell High School) were always powerhouses, so I had to try out.”

Playing high school hockey and then making the jump to the MWJHL is something Schumacher attributes to his work ethic.

“High school hockey prepared me for juniors because I was always skating,” Schumacher said. “We had hockey everyday and it only got me better. Also, the more I played hockey the more confident I was and it transferred over to juniors. My four years at Lakeland were a great experience. I loved being able to see my teammates in class and the chemistry we would build no matter what grade you were in.”

This season actually started off with a bump, quite literally.

In the Hounds’ second game of the season in Holland against the River Bandits, things got testy late in the game and Schumacher was on the receiving end of what most feel should be eliminated from hockey altogether and ended up at the hospital with a broken nose.

“The situation unfolded when I was chirping some player for running into my goalie and someone came up from behind me and sucker-punched me in the face," said Schumacher. "It was cheap, but I will have to learn better how to protect myself and understand that stuff like this can happen in junior hockey. As of right now, I'm not fully recovered from my broken nose and it's still vulnerable and easy to break."

Personal issues aside, all Schumacher wants to do this season is win and with a perfect 7-0-0 record so far, that’s all Hartland is doing.

“My expectations from a team standpoint are that we are accomplishing what we wanted to do,” said Schumacher. “We have won all our games and are in first place and that will be our expectation for the rest of the year. We want to be the best team in the MWJHL, win the league and be a powerhouse.”

Payne decides on Northern Michigan

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced that forward Robbie Payne has committed to play college hockey at Northern Michigan University.

 Payne, a 19-year-old forward from Gaylord, has been a huge asset to the success of the Kalamazoo scoring attack. After starting in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Soo Eagles, Payne had a breakout rookie campaign in the NAHL in 2011-12.

Last season, he was able to tally 26 goals and 29 assists for 55 points, which was good enough for second on the team. He also led the team with nine power-play goals.

In a game against the Jamestown Ironmen, Payne set a league-high with seven points in one contest (three goals, four assists).

“Robbie is certainly known as a tremendously gifted offensive player, but we also know that he is reliable in all situations,” said Kalamazoo head coach Marc Fakler. “Northern Michigan is not only getting a hard-working and talented young hockey player, but a quality young man. Northern Michigan has a tradition-rich program led by one of the most respected coaches in college hockey in Walt Kyle."

Also in 2011-12, Payne was named to the NAHL Top Prospects North Division team and was also recognized by the league as the Combat Hockey Player of the Month in October.

Already this season, Payne was named the North Division’s Combat Hockey Player of the Week after he scored five goals in four games during the NAHL Showcase to start the season.

Through six games this season, Payne has seven points, six of which are goals.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Muskegon's Storm picks St. Cloud State

The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced that defenseman Ben Storm has decided to play his college hockey for the St. Cloud State Huskies of the newly-formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference that will begin in the 2013-14 season.

Storm was a fifth-round pick in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft by the Lumberjacks after spending the last two years playing for Calumet High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The 6-foot-6 defenseman tallied 61 points (28 goals and 33 assists) in 53 games during his two years at the high school level.

“St. Cloud State showed the most interest in me and their coaches made me feel right at home,” said Storm. “I enjoyed visiting the campus and I am excited for the new additions they are making to their hockey facilities in the near future.”