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.”


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.


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.”


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.”


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.