Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Diminutive Shureb thriving in Jets' system

Justin Shureb only joined the Metro Jets in mid-November, but hasn’t missed a beat in recording 19 points in 28 games.

Shureb was one of the Jets’ two first-round picks in last June’s NA3HL draft (defenseman Trevor Hillman was the other), going fourth overall out of Livonia Stevenson High School where he earned Division 1 All-State honorable mention honors.

Admittedly, Shureb didn’t know much about the NA3HL or the Jets, but was pleasantly surprised when he received a call on draft day from the Jets’ brass stating he would be drafted early.

”I was very honored, considering there were 320 players that were drafted into the NA3HL,” said Shureb, who turns 19 next Monday. “Even though I came into the season late, my role has been to add more offensive power to an already potent offense, shut down opponent’s top lines, kill penalties and when chances come, score goals and grind it out.”

The Jets have five other players who have played for the team this year who earned All-State honors last season in forwards Steve Klisz (Division 1 Second Team at Livonia Churchill High School), Trevor Bardallis (Division 1 Second Team at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School), Zach Mohr (Division 1 honorable mention at Novi High School, now in the NAHL with Wichita Falls) and Josh Beleski (Division 2 Second Team at Southgate Anderson High School) and defenseman Max Biggings (Division 2 honorable mention at Hartland High School).

Playing for a respected coach in Jason Cirone is also something Shureb wanted in order to keep climbing the ranks.

”Jason is a very no-nonsense coach who knows the game and how to get the most out of his players,” Shureb said. “My ultimate goal is to play college hockey, so I would like to continue playing juniors so I can achieve my goal.”

Listed at 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds, one would hardly think Shureb plays as his size would indicate.

And that’s a good thing.

”My size has never been an issue as far as I was concerned,” said Shureb. “I have been able to out-skate many of my opponents. My drive, determination and hard work have been what I have used since I started playing hockey 11 years ago. I have never let my size slow me down or interfere with my dreams and goals. I have been told by many coaches that I play like I am 6-foot-5, not 5-foot-6. I have never been one to be intimidated by bigger players.”

That said, expect Shureb to elevate his game in the coming weeks as the Jets make a push to play into April.


The Jets hosted the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins last weekend at Lakeland Arena and came away with a convincing two-game sweep.

Saturday night, Cameron Bazin and Mike MacKinnon each had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win, while Dillon Kelley finished with 18 saves.

Metro captain Tommy Kilgore, Cameron Mackey and Doug Andrews also scored.

Sunday afternoon, the Jets jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first period and settled for a 7-3 victory to clinch third place in the East Division. The Jets will play Flint or Cleveland on the road in the best-of-three first round of the Hurster Cup playoffs starting March 16.

MacKinnon, who was subsequently named the NA3HL's 2nd Star of the Week, continued his torrid pace with two goals and two assists and Klisz also had a four-point game with a goal and three helpers. Matt Stirling and Bardallis tallied a goal and two assists apiece, while Bazin and Chris Hellebuyck also scored.

Kilgore chipped in a pair of assists and Kelley made 17 saves.

“I think it was a very good weekend, considering all the games we’ve been playing lately,” said Cirone. “I told the players that in the NHL it takes 16 wins to win the Stanley Cup and we’ve been starting our own run to 16 wins since right before the (NA3HL East Showcase Feb. 19-22 in Troy).”

The Jets (28-15-1-1) travel to Flint tonight to play the Jr. Generals at 7:20 p.m. and are then off this weekend before concluding the regular season March 10-11 at home with two games against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.

“We’ve exceeded all of our goals we set at the beginning of the season,” said Cirone. “I think you get greedy when you have a good team, but I think 30 wins is a reasonable goal and I see no reason why we can’t get to that number. The guys know we still have a lot to play for before the playoffs.”


Current Jets defenseman Will Shier has some good bloodlines as his cousin, Andrew Shier, skated at the University of Wisconsin from 1990-94 and was drafted by the New York Islanders in the 12th round of the 1990 NHL draft.

Andrew Shier played the majority of his seven-year pro career with the Richmond Renegades of the ECHL.


Anthony Cacciatore, who manned the blue line for the Jets during the 2000-01 season, is now ling and working in Chicago and owns and operates his own business – Chef of Chicago – where he works as a private and personal chef.

After his time in Waterford, Cacciatore, 30, played two years at Robert Morris College and left early to play two years in the United Hockey League with the Muskegon Fury and Port Huron Beacons.

Photo/Matt Mackinder

Thursday, February 23, 2012

North Stars alums spark No. 1 Ferris State

A quintet of former Traverse City North Stars have helped Ferris State University perch itself atop the college hockey world.

With a weekend sweep of CCHA rival Bowling Green, Ferris has reeled off 14 straight without a loss (11-0-3), reached the 20-win plateau faster than any school in the land, laid claim to at least a share of the CCHA regular season title and assumed the No. 1 spot in each of the three major NCAA hockey polls.

Helping the Bulldogs reach such rarified air are former North Stars forwards Kyle Bonis, Andy Huff and Garrett Thompson, defenseman Travis White and goalie C.J. Motte.

“We started off not exactly knowing what was in store for us,” said Thompson, whose family moved to Traverse City back in 2007 during his three-year stint with the North Stars. “To be honest, they gauged us on the low end of the totem pole – I believe we were projected ninth in the CCHA (preseason poll) and something like 49th in the country. Obviously, that's not something you want to see going into a season, but I think if anything we’ve used that as motivation.”

Thompson assisted on the Bulldogs’ opening goal and scored the game-winner himself in a 5-1 rout of Bowling Green in Friday’s series opener, while Bonis and Huff (game-winner) assisted on two of FSU’s goals in the 4-1 clincher on Saturday.

Bonis, who is tied for fourth in the CCHA with 15 goals, was named the conference’s Player of the Week after a two-goal, two-assist weekend against the Fighting Irish on Feb. 10-11. Bulldogs head coach Bob Daniels didn’t bat an eye when the junior forward began lighting arena lamps with great frequency this season.

“From the minute Kyle got here, we could see in practice that he was a goal-scorer,” Daniels explained. “The biggest surprise isn’t that he’s scoring goals, it’s that it’s taken this long to see the goal production during games that we see every day in practice. It’s a testament to how hard Kyle has worked in the weight room and on the ice – he’s a great kid and it’s good to see him having the kind of success he’s having.”

Thompson, a sophomore winger, has eight goals and nine assists in 32 contests, while Huff has appeared in 21games, with three goals and a quartet of assists to his credit. Freshman defenseman and two-year Stars captain Travis White has seen action in nine consecutive conference games; Motte is 5-4-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a sterling .926 save percentage.

Daniels says that each of the Traverse City products have played a role in helping FSU to the top spot in the polls for the first time in school history, and a share of the first CCHA crown since 2002-03.

“The Traverse City North Stars program, and Anthony Palumbo in particular, have done an outstanding job preparing these guys, and we’ve been the beneficiaries of a lot of their hard work,” said Daniels, who is in his 20th season behind the Ferris bench. “All of them have contributed on the ice, but even more importantly than that, they’ve been great additions to the Ferris State campus and the Big Rapids community as well. There’s a certain set of character traits that each of these guys brings to the team, and it’s been a very positive impact on and off the ice.”

The TC-to-Big Rapids pipeline is still flowing: Current North Stars Seth Adams, Zach Dorer and Kyle Schempp are each committed to Ferris.

Bonis spent less than two full seasons with the North Stars, but amassed 55 goals and 43 assists in just 98 regular-season games in a TC sweater – good enough for second on the club’s all-time scoring list. His 30-goal campaign in 2008-09 is still the single-best total in Stars history.

Thompson spent three years with Traverse City, collecting 40 goals and assists on 40 others over 121 outings, ranking him sixth in Stars all-time scoring. He reached a highwater mark of 24 goals and 26 assists in 57 games during the 2009-10 season.

“These guys are great examples of how hard work, talent, and drive can get you to the next level – and helps you excel at the next level,” said Palumbo. “It’s been great to watch them have the success they’ve achieved so far this year. Hopefully, there’s even more to come.”

Ferris State (22-8-4) can put the finishing touches on their regular season league championship this weekend in a home-and-home series with Western Michigan. Friday’s game in Kalamazoo will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit, with Saturday’s return engagement moving to Big Rapids. The Bulldogs have cinched a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs, with an NCAA tourney berth well within reach.

For now, Thompson says he’s taking it all in – but taking nothing for granted.

“It’s pretty crazy looking at the rankings and seeing your school being No. 1 and knowing your a part of something big,” he explained. “But we really haven't done anything yet. The plan is to take it one game at a time and just worry about what’s next rather than getting carried away with it. We know what has gotten us here, and that's what we know it takes to keep things rolling along.”

Shalawylo does quiet job for Metro

Andrew Shalawylo knows his role is as a defensive defenseman with the Metro Jets and by doing that, he doesn’t get noticed a whole lot during games.

And that’s just fine with the 19-year-old from Clinton Township.

“I've never been a very flashy player,” admitted Shalawylo, a second-year skater with the Jets. “My goal isn't to put up a lot of points because I know that's not my skill set. I'm not a guy that's going to produce a lot of offense directly, but I try to be as solid defensively as I can and initiate that first play that develops into something someone else turns into a scoring opportunity.”

In 30 games this year, Shalawylo has posted three assists. Last year, he went pointless in 32 contests. Personal stats aside, Shalawylo would rather turn his attention to the turnaround season the Jets have had this year.

”I just want to win,” Shalawylo said. “We have a team that can do it and I want to do everything I possibly can to make sure it keeps happening. The atmosphere in the locker room is great. We have so much confidence that we can go far. I know it's a cliché, but we really are a family.”

Coming to the Jets out of Midget AA hockey was a big jump for Shalawylo, but it’s one he has embraced and dealt with the ups and downs that come with accepting such a challenge.

”I've obviously learned a ton playing for (head coach) Jason (Cirone) and the Jets,” said Shalawylo. “The coaches have done a great job of teaching a lot of the intricacies of the game and I've learned a lot about how to practice and play from teammates. The biggest thing I've gotten out of the Jets, though, is just being able to enjoy playing junior hockey.”

Shalawylo added that confidence and enjoying the game can go a long ways, especially this time of year.

“I think having a year of improvement last year set us up for success this year,” explained Shalawylo. “We showed that with the right attitude and leadership in place, this is a team people should want to be a part of. I think that helped attract a lot of really talented players to the team. The amount of talent we have this year is incredible, and everyone has the right attitude.

“We're all working towards the same goal and know we can get there.”


The Jets played five games over the past six days and earned seven of ten points. Metro has just five games left on the schedule, including four at Lakeland Arena.

Metro used three different goal-scorers and 40 saves from Eric Trunick to take a 3-2 win over the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution last Friday night at The Rink.

Jake Schlacht, in his first game since a lower body injury shelved him in November, Justin Shureb and Matt Stirling tallied for the Jets.

The next four games were part of the NA3HL East Showcase at the Troy Sports Center.

Troy native Mike MacKinnon had a hand in each goal as he scored two shorthanded goals and added four assists as the Jets opened the showcase with a 6-3 win over the Michigan Mountain Cats Sunday night.

The Mountain Cats had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, but then the Jets exploded for four goals in the second period - MacKinnon's two and singles from Matt Stemkoski and Schlacht.

Steve Klisz scored the Jets' first goal in the first period and Shureb added a goal in the third period.

Dillon Kelley finished with 36 saves in goal for the Jets and Will Shier chipped in two assists from the blue line.

On Monday, the Jets erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to send the game to overtime, but Joe Skrzynski scored 45 seconds into the extra session to give the Toledo Cherokee a 4-3 win.

Doug Andrews scored in the second period for the Jets, while Stirling (at 14:44) and Stemkoski (on a power play at 17:02) tied the game late in the third.

Kelley finished with 38 saves.

Andrews and Trevor Bardallis each had three-point games to lead the Jets over Battle Creek 8-3 Tuesday morning.

Bardallis scored twice with an assist, while Andrews had a goal and two helpers.

Metro captain Tommy Kilgore tallied a goal and an assist and Adam Reid, Klisz, Josh Beleski and Stemkoski scored one apiece.

MacKinnon, Stirling and John Baker each added two assists, while Kelley made 30 saves for the win.

Former Metro forward Tim Wlodkowski registered a goal and an assist for Battle Creek.

The Queen City Steam scored three goals in a 3:07 span early in the second period and held on the rest of the way to beat the Jets 4-2 Wednesday afternoon in the final game of the showcase.

Cameron Mackey and Stirling scored in the loss and Baker assisted on both.

Kelley made 24 saves between the pipes.

The Jets (26-15-1-1) now get set to host the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins this weekend at Lakeland Arena. Game time is 7:50 p.m. Saturday night and then 11:50 a.m. on Sunday. Metro then heads to Flint next Wednesday before closing out the season March 3-4 at home against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.


Prior to being held without a point against Queen City, MacKinnon had 10 points in his previous four games … Klisz is tied with Minnesota’s Parker Tomczyk for second in the NA3HL with 29 goals. Michigan’s James Koonce leads with 30 … Klisz and MacKinnon are tied for second in NA3HL scoring with 61 points apiece … Defenseman Jordan Jones was released this week. Jones had two goals in 15 games this season.


Austin Brown, a defenseman who played in Waterford during the 2005-06 season, was recently named to the All-NCHA Team as a senior at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minn.

The 24-year-old from Lathrup Village leads all NCHA defensemen with 19 points and has the Saints in the NCHA tournament semi-finals. St. Scholastica will host Wisconsin-Stevens Point (and another Jets’ alum Nick Kenney) on Saturday night.

Photo/Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Monday, February 20, 2012

Warriors offer statement on team's status

The Michigan Warriors released a statement on their team blog Sunday, attempting to set the record straight on their NAHL situation after this season:

By now, many of our fans have likely heard of the NAHL's announcement stating that seven clubs, including the Michigan Warriors, are eligible for dormancy in the 2012-13 season.

While it may sound a bit "doom and gloom," the Warriors are working to restructure their deal with Perani Arena in order to better suit the rink's, team's and fans' needs. We appreciate the support from Flint-area hockey fans, and there are no definite plans for the Warriors to "sit out" next season, move from Flint or otherwise.

According to team owner Pat McEachern, the "dormancy" status is fairly common throughout junior hockey, a statement coach Moe Mantha echoed Thursday during an interview with an ABC 12 reporter.

The facts...

Under the dormancy clause, the Warriors could indeed sit out next season and return to Flint the following season.

The Warriors are working with Perani Arena to reach a deal which would benefit all parties involved. The application for such status does not mean the Warriors won't play at Perani next season. As a business owner, McEachern is simply taking precautionary measures in order to protect the team.


The Warriors are leaving Flint, being sold and relocated -- each falls into the "speculation" category. There aren't any immediate plans to move the team from Flint, nor are there any to go "dark" for a season, either.

What does the report mean?

By definition, the word "dormancy" refers to being inactive. And that could be the case for the Warriors, in theory, if a satisfactory deal with Perani fails to be reached. Jim Cain, who runs Firland Management, the company which owns Perani Arena, recently said keeping the Warriors in Flint is the ultimate goal.

"We have one entity, the Warriors, who have over 30 event days there a year," Cain said, according to a report on "Literally, it's half of what we do. It's very important (to keep the team)."

Visit the Warriors official team blog for the latest on the dormancy issue. Again, the Warriors appreciate their fans' support during this time, and urge them not to jump to conclusions.

Coach Mantha said it best Thursday, stating that the team's goal -- and the players' goal -- is to remain focused on finishing the season the best way possible. As of Saturday, the Warriors owned a seven-point advantage over Jamestown for the North American Hockey League's fourth and final playoff spot.

The Warriors look forward to competing for their second consecutive Robbie Cup Finals, which they reached in 2010-11, which was the franchise's first season in Flint.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Jets name Ronayne new assistant coach

The Metro Jets announced today that Colin Ronayne has been hired as the team’s new assistant coach for the rest of the season.

Ronayne skated with Oakland University’s ACHA Division I team from 2007-2011 and played 35 games this season with the Knoxville (Tenn.) IceBears of the Southern Professional Hockey League and Brooklyn Aviators of the Federal Hockey League. He also served as OU’s captain last year.

The 25-year-old Commerce native also played for the Jets from 2005-07, so he knows the ins and outs of the Jets’ program. In essence, this is a homecoming for Ronayne and one he’s happy to be a part of.

“I work with (Metro head coach) Jason (Cirone) at Puckmasters and he talked to me about coming here to coach when I was going to try out and play pro last fall,” said Ronayne. “It worked out that I came back a little early and the job was still available, so I came out and I’m enjoying it so far.

“When I played here, I remember it was a short bench, but we worked hard and made the playoffs that year (2007). I learned a lot and I’m still pretty good friends with a lot of the guys from that team. There was good team chemistry that year.”

Playing pro hockey was something Ronayne never thought he’d be able to do, considering he never played AAA hockey during his youth days. He played high school hockey at Detroit Catholic Central before coming to the Jets and also played a few games with the Syracuse Stars in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

“I didn’t really expect much,” said the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ronayne. “I pretty much went down to Knoxville on a whim and everything worked out and it was definitely a big learning experience for me.”

In fact, in a pre-season game between Knoxville and the Columbus Cottonmouths last October, Ronayne squared off with Morgan James, the Jets’ captain last year and ironically enough, a very good friend of Ronayne’s.

“We both agreed it was nothing personal,” laughed Ronayne. “It kept me in Knoxville a little longer and it helped Morgan secure a spot in Columbus for a little while. Something had to be done – no big deal.”

After this season wraps up, Ronayne said he’s be open to coming back as a coach next year or giving the pro game another shot.

“I’m kind of leaving the door open to maybe go back and play, but I’m not really focusing on that right now,” Ronayne said. “I’m just enjoying being here and being on the ice and helping out as much as I can and hopefully, I can learn something from Jason.”

Metro (23-14-0-1) will now get set to play five games in six days. The Jets skate at Battle Creek tonight and then after an off day Saturday, will head to Troy for the NA3HL East Showcase at the Troy Sports Center.

In Troy, the Jets will play the Mountain Cats on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Toledo on Monday at 2:45 p.m., Battle Creek on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and then finishes up against Queen City on Wednesday at noon.

Michigan Warriors to go dark in '12-13?


A report from states that the Michigan Warriors are one of seven teams that have been given dormancy status from the North American Hockey League for the 2012-2013 season.

According to the report, the NAHL Board of Governors held a conference call Wednesday to determine the change in status of the teams.

If the Warriors do indeed take on the dormancy status, they will forgo the 2012-2013 season and be eligible to rejoin NAHL competition beginning the following year.

More details HERE.


Froese named Muskegon skating coach

The Muskegon Lumberjacks announced Thursday that Dr. Kurt Froese has been added to their hockey operations staff as skating coach.

“We are committed to provide the best development program anywhere so our players can reach their fullest potential,” said Lumberjacks CEO-GM Josh Mervis. “We believe we can help our athletes gain an advantage by really pushing the development of their skating skills.”

Froese, who focused his doctoral thesis on the development of hockey players, will conduct on-ice sessions once a week with Lumberjacks players and will also prescribe off-ice exercises to improve their skating strength, coordination and speed.

“Repetition can lead to mastery or misery, depending on how you train,” said Froese, who played high-level hockey in the Canadian junior ranks and also as a professional. “What’s important is the nervous system, which triggers the muscles. You need to treat the cause of a deficiency, not the symptoms.”

After studying as an undergraduate at the University of Manitoba, Froese attended Life College in Atlanta where he completed a four-year program to receive his Doctorate in Chiropractic.

“I’m a proponent of age-appropriate skill development,” Froese said. “Anything good takes time but players will pay the price if they know the payoff is coming. As we go along, they will be more solid on their skates and comfortable in tight spaces.

“As they build good habits, the players will experience more explosive speed and more control of their bodies.”

A native of Winnipeg, Froese currently resides in Traverse City where he and his wife, Laura, operate Lighthouse Chiropractic & Wellness Center (, a renowned and innovative practice.

“What I love about coaching is giving people something I wish I had when I was playing,” Froese said. “Working with a team like this on a long-term basis is very exciting for me.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Metro's offense starts with Livonia's Klisz

Steve Klisz has quietly been one of the North American 3 Hockey League’s top scorers all season long for the Metro Jets.

His 27 goals and 56 points going into this weekend are good for second overall in the NA3HL.

Klisz, though, isn’t necessarily shocked by his offensive output and attributes much of it to his linemates.

“Coming into this season, I felt at best I could be in the top ten, but never would have thought I would be top two or three, though,” said Klisz, a 19-year-old from Livonia. “My linemates are a big reason why I am up there. If I didn’t have Mike MacKinnon or Matt Stemkoski on my line then I wouldn't be anywhere near the top three in the league.

“I have always been an offensive player all throughout my life and at times my numbers do surprise me, but deep down, I knew I could do this good at this level.”

MacKinnon is tenth in NA3HL scoring, while Stemkoski is 24th.

Klisz is hoping his year in Waterford will lead to an opportunity with the North American Hockey League next season. Several teams have already inquired about his services and Klisz has aspirations of staying close to home.

“I really want to play for Port Huron next year,” said Klisz. “They have a great program and I would love to join it next year, but we’ll see."

Former Jets’ forward Mike Moroso (2010-11) currently leads the Fighting Falcons in scoring.

Looking ahead, Klisz has complete confidence in the Jets and feels a post-season run isn’t out of the question.

“Everyone feels great in the locker room and we feel like we can beat anyone anywhere,” said Klisz. “Everyone has confidence in one another, so if one person isn’t playing well, the rest of the team seems to play even better.”


Dillon Kelley shut out the Michigan Mountain Cats in back-to-back games last Friday and Saturday night at Farmington Hills Ice Arena to propel the Jets to a sweep of the Mountain Cats and a 4-0 record against the Mountain Cats this season.

For Kelley, the weekend was a coming-out party of sorts for the 17-year-old Petoskey native who has emerged as the Jets’ No. 1 goaltender. He has three shutouts this year – all against the Mountain Cats. Kelley previously blanked Michigan with a 13-save outing on Jan. 14 at Lakeland Arena.

“I was well-rested and was seeing the puck well and felt very comfortable in both games,” said Kelley. “I would have to say that this past weekend is for sure in my top three greatest moments of my hockey career. I have never had back-to-back shutouts before, so this was pretty special to me.”

Friday night, Kelley stopped 27 shots in the Jets’ 3-0 win, while Stemkoski, Matt Stirling and John Baker scored to pace the Metro attack.

Saturday night, MacKinnon and Doug Andrews provided the offense in a 2-0 victory. Kelley finished with 40 saves.

“This weekend was huge for us,” Kelley said. “I think that the momentum we gained this weekend will carry us through the remainder of the season and into the playoffs. Even though they were two close games, I feel that as a team, we all played well, Michigan played hard and aggressive, keeping everyone on their toes, but we worked hard both games.

“All in all, I feel it was a great weekend for us as a team.”

“Dillon is a great kid and also a great teammate,” added Klisz. “He is one of the better goalies in the league and also one of the youngest. I see him going far in hockey mainly because his work ethic on and off the ice is great.”

Metro (23-14-0-1) will now get set to play five games in six days in the next week. The Jets skate at Battle Creek this Friday night and then after an off day Saturday will head to Troy for the NA3HL East Showcase at the Troy Sports Center.

In Troy, the Jets will play the Mountain Cats on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Toledo on Monday at 2:45 p.m., Battle Creek on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and then finishes up against Queen City on Wednesday at noon.

“Everyone just needs to stay focused through all of these tough games,” said Klisz. “We need to get as much rest as we can because five games in six days is going to be really tough.”


Kelley was also named the NA3HL’s 1st Star of the Week for his 67-save weekend performance.

With the two wins and shutouts, Kelley improved his season record to 14-4-1.

“I thought Dillon was solid all weekend and came up with some key saves at key times in the game,” said Jets GM Butch Wolfe. “He used his size to his advantage and played under control, keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to win.”


Goalie Devin Williams, who began this year with the Jets, had a monster game Wednesday night for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters.

The Otters edged the Niagara Ice Dogs, one of the top teams in the OHL, by a 2-1 margin and Williams made an unbelievable 61 saves, including 44 in the first two periods, to earn the win.

"What can you say?" said Erie assistant coach and goalie coach Peter Sidorkiewicz to the Erie Times-News. “The kid was amazing.”

Williams, a 16-year-old Saginaw native, posted a 9-9-0 record with the Jets along with a 3.88 goals-against average and a ,896 save percentage. He joined the Otters, the team that drafted him last May, on a full-time basis in early January, but can only play 10 games as an affiliate player until the Jets’ season is completed. Last night was his sixth game with Erie with 15 left for the last-place Otters.

Photo/Matt Mackinder

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vanderwiel making most of opportunities


One man’s suspension is another man’s ice time.

When the Plymouth Whalers were recently hit with suspensions to Matt Mistele, Mitch Jones, Mitchell Dempsey and Cody Payne, rookie Danny Vanderwiel stepped up in a big way.

Vanderwiel scored four goals over a three games last weekend to increase his season total from one goal to five in a three-day span.

Two of the goals came on the big stage in London on Friday before a full house of 9,046. Although the Whalers lost, 8-6, while playing with just ten forwards and seven defensemen, Vanderwiel was named the second star.

Vanderwiel also scored in a 6-5 loss to Kitchener on Saturday and a 5-4 shootout win against Saginaw on Sunday.

“It was great,” Vanderwiel said of the experience of playing in London. “There are no words for that (experience) – it’s tough to explain. Not playing too much this year and going into London with three lines on the bench – all the boys are trying to go hard. To score a pair of goals, especially as a 16-year-old, is one of the greatest things I could ask for.”

Although one of Vanderwiel’s goal came on a snap shot from the right circle to beat London goaltender Michael Houser, the other three goals came as a result of going to the net hard and winning battles in gritty areas.

He scored his second goal in London by following up a wrap around at the left post and potting home the rebound through traffic, went hard to the net as he was being checked to score against Kitchener, then batted home a rebound just outside the blue ice against Saginaw.

Vanderwiel was quick to give Plymouth assistant coach Don Elland credit for his goal against Kitchener.

“Coach Don was telling me to go to the net, throw my body around and finish hard,” Vanderwiel said. “I saw 'Wales' (Michael Whaley) get the puck and so I put my head down and skated to the net, hoping that the puck would hit off my stick. It went in the net."

Like a good two-way passing play, Elland returns the compliment to Vanderwiel.

“It’s a great opportunity for him,” said Elland about Vanderwiel’s opportunity. “He’s taking advantage of it, he’s playing hard, he’s keeping it simple. Danny’s doing a good job and he’s getting better every week.”

Vanderwiel – from Island Lake, Ill. - was selected by Plymouth in the eighth round (144th overall) of the 2011 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

On an older team that is second overall in the Western Conference and chasing London for the top spot, Vanderwiel – along with fellow rookies Mistele, Dempsey and Jones – understand their roles on a very good team.

“All of the rookies – me, ‘Misty’ (Mistele), Dempsey and 'Jonsey' – have the right attitude,” Vanderwiel explained. “We understand that it’s a tough lineup to crack. We have guys like Stefan Noesen, J.T. Miller, Alex Aleardi, Rickard Rakell – a bunch of guys who are great players.”

For players like Vanderwiel, practice time is game time.

“Practices are big for all of us, Vanderwiel said. “(Head coach Mike) Vellucci sees when we’re working hard in practice and when we’re not. That’s what (working hard in practice) normally gives us our chance to play in a game.”

Whalers TV analyst Sean Baligian appreciates the attitude of all of the Plymouth rookies.

“So much can be said about a player’s talent,” Baligian said during Saturday's broadcast. “Sometimes, there’s not much said about a player’s character. The Whalers have been blessed to have so many good, young men come in here and get it – they don’t have a sense of entitlement.

“Danny could go play some place here this year, and probably score a million goals and a million assists. But you know what? He’s biding his time and he’s improving his stock. Good for him.”

And good for the Whalers.

Photo/Rena Laverty

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Whalers, Spirit going outside in December

In late December and early January of next season, Detroit will play host to a week-long celebration of hockey at all levels known as the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

The Ontario Hockey League has been invited to play a double-header featuring the Plymouth Whalers and London Knights, along with the Saginaw Spirit and Windsor Spitfires, as part of the outdoor game festivities.

“The Ontario Hockey League is most pleased and values the invitation extended to us by the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL to be part of the Winter Classic,” said OHL commissioner David Branch. “We look forward to hopefully concluding the necessary arrangements to be part of this very special and exciting hockey celebration."

The announcement about the NHL’s Winter Classic and the Hockeytown Winter Festival was made by the NHL Thursday morning at a news conference at Comerica Park. The Detroit Red Wings will host the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 1 in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium.

Photo/Mike Caples/

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ross keeps Jets' players 'in one piece'

Dave Ross may just be the Metro Jets’ MVP this season.

And he hasn’t set one foot on the ice all year.

As the team’s athletic trainer, much of what Ross does goes unnoticed, but then again, if he didn’t do his job, the team wouldn’t be able to stick together – literally.

“Yeah, I guess you could say I keep each player in one piece,” said Ross, who has been a physical therapist for 25 years and has a clinic in Clarkston. “It’s a long season and these kids get banged up, so I see a lot of shoulder and knee injuries that require immediate attention. The thing about this season that is so different about past years is that the kids are responding to what I ask them to do and by doing that, they heal quicker and can get back on the ice.

“All I can do is treat them and give them exercises to do, so after I see them, it’s on them. These are all good kids and they all have a different attitude this year. It’s very refreshing to see.”

Ross is on the bench for all Jets’ home games and is almost always on the move.

“Knee and shoulder injuries are the most common and dealing with knees is probably the hardest and one that requires a lot of therapy,” Ross said. “You can skate with a bad shoulder; you can’t skate with a bad knee.”

With the onus these days on safety and hockey and concussion prevention, Ross is on board with all the new safety measures, but cautions that no equipment is 100 percent going to prevent injuries.

“Hockey is a tough sport and guys are crashing and banging into each other all game long,” said Ross. No helmet will protect you from a hit. Look at Sidney Crosby. He was out almost a year and then when he comes back, he gets hit by his own player and is out again. You have to take your time with concussions.”

Now in his fifth season with the Jets, Ross likes what he sees on the ice this year and can’t help but be a fan of the marked improvement this season.

“These kids want to win and they want to get better,” said Ross. “(Metro coach) Jason (Cirone) has done a fantastic job with these kids and it shows. I think we’re in for a great finish this season.”


Cameron Mackey, just signed earlier in the day, scored a power-play goal at 13:45 of the third period to snap a 5-5 tie and the Jets held on for a 6-5 win last Saturday night over the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks at Lakeland Arena.

The teams traded goals in the third period after the game was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes.

"I told the kids right from day one when we won 8-7 in overtime against Flint that if we're going to run and gun, make sure you got the bigger gun and you come out on top," said Cirone. "I was talking with the ref before the game and he asked what kind of game we should expect and I told him there would be a lot of goals. Both teams are offensively-gifted and the game was what it was."

Steve Klisz scored twice to up his team-best total to 27 and Justin Shureb also added a pair with an assist for the Jets (21-14-0-1). Cameron Bruff scored the other Metro goal.

Another player making his Jets' debut, Trevor Bardallis, chipped in two assists, as did Cameron Bazin and Mike MacKinnon.

Dillon Kelley earned the win in goal with a 29-save outing.

"I thought both goalies struggled a bit and maybe stopped the shots that should have been goals and allowed goals they could have stopped," said Cirone. "You'll have games like that and tonight was one of those games."

L.J. Dvorak stopped 29 shots for Cleveland, who got goals from five different skaters.

The Jets have now won six straight at home, but don't return to Lakeland until Feb. 25-26 for a two-game set with the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins. Next weekend, Metro plays a pair on the road against the Michigan Mountain Cats and the following weekend will play four games in four days as part of the NA3HL East Showcase at the Troy Sports Center.

"No game is ever easy in this league," added Cirone. "We haven't had an easy game all year. I think our kids work and earn everything they get. What's considered an easy game nowadays?"


Mackey and Bardallis suited up last week at practice and debuted against Cleveland.

Both are local forwards (Mackey is from Commerce, Bardallis from Waterford) and both made an immediate impact last weekend. Bardallis turned 19 at the beginning of December and Mackey is 20.

“Mackey just kind of showed up one day at practice and he asked if he could skate and we went from there,” explained Cirone. “I worked with Bardallis last summer at Puckmasters helping him get in shape and stuff like that. He was out in the EJHL, but had some family issues and wanted to come home and be closer to his family. He sent me an email, I told him to come out to practice that night and here we are.”

Bardallis was tendered last season by the NAHL’s New Mexico Mustangs, but didn’t make the team this year and wound up skating with the EJHL’s Bay State Breakers and Capital District Selects.

Forward Chris Hellebuyck has re-joined the Jets after a stint in the NAHL with the Odessa Jackalopes.

Hellebuyck went without a point in five games with Odessa. He’s currently third in Jets’ scoring with 40 points and his 21 goals are second on the team behind Klisz.


Seth Giersdorf, a forward on the Jets’ 1999-2000 team, is still in the area, living in Canton and working as a regional director for Sterling Management, overseeing real estate properties in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Giersdorf has been married to his wife, Meghan, the niece of his host family when he played for the Jets, for 7 ½ years.

Giersdorf came to the Jets from Coral Springs, Fla., but is originally from Beulah, N.D.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Jr. K-Wings add forward DeKorte

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the addition of forward Davis DeKorte.

The 18-year-old forward was dealt to Kalamazoo at the end of the trade deadline period in the NAHL for future considerations.

DeKorte, a DeWitt native, joins Kalamazoo late in a rookie season that has included 26 games with the Janesville Jets. In those contests, DeKorte has posted seven points on three goals (one of which a game-winner) and four assists. He has also played to a plus-9 rating. DeKorte has also been very well disciplined this season, having only served two penalty minutes.

“Davis is a young forward with good size and strength," said Kalamazoo coach Marc Fakler. "He will add to our depth at forward as we head into the stretch of our season.”

DeKorte will likely make his Kalamazoo debut tomorrow night as the Jr. K-Wings face off against the Traverse City North Stars at 6:35 p.m. in Traverse City.

Friday, February 03, 2012

North Stars trade for USHL blueliner

The Traverse City North Stars bolstered their blue line on Friday, completing a deal with Des Moines of the USHL to bring defenseman J.D. Cotroneo into the fold.

Cotroneo, who played in 14 contests this season for Des Moines, will help shore up the loss of Dean Burggrabe, who suffered season-ending injuries in a Jan. 22 game at Kalamazoo.

“We feel like we got a good, young defenseman who can come in and contribute right away,” said Stars GM Anthony Palumbo. “He had some injuries early on this season and didn’t get back on the ice until around Christmas, so we’re very fortunate to be able to add him.”

Last season, Cotroneo (6-foot, 200 pounds) led Hill-Murray High School in Minnesota to a 21-3-1 record and showed off his two-way game en route to scoring five goals and assisting on 11 others along the way.

The Woodbury, Minn., native was originally a third-round pick by Waterloo in the 2009 USHL Futures Draft.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Muskegon makes trade with Buccaneers

The Muskegon Lumberjacks announced today they have acquired University of Minnesota blueline recruit Mike Brodzinski and a first-round selection in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft from the Des Moines Buccaneers in exchange for defenseman Nick Seeler.

The Lumberjacks will also receive future considerations from the Buccaneers in the deal, which adds assets as well as alleviates a potential logjam on the blueline.

“This is a great trade for both teams,” said Lumberjacks head coach Jim McKenzie. “With eight healthy defensemen, this opens up a spot and also helps us into the future. Brodzinski and the first-round pick we received should both be big for us.”

Brodzinski (pictured), who verbally committed to Minnesota last fall, was Des Moines’ first-round selection (seventh overall) in last summer’s USHL Futures Draft. The junior defenseman at Blaine (Minn.) High School has a team-leading 23 points this season and has maintained a point-per-game pace over the last two years. Brodzinski led Blaine in playoff scoring last spring as a sophomore.

The 5-foot-11 blueline prospect also competed in last summer’s Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor. As part of the U.S. Select Team that won gold, Brodzinski displayed “a very athletic frame and…a great shot from the point,” according to He will be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft in 2013.

Seeler totaled 15 points (two goals) in 32 games for the Lumberjacks in his first USHL season. He has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and was a 2011 fifth-round pick of the Minnesota Wild.

“Nick is a great young man and he’ll be a great player in college, and in the professional ranks down the road,” McKenzie said. “We want to thank Nick for his hard work and great attitude and we wish him well with his new team.”

Also as part of the deal, Des Moines acquired Muskegon affiliate list players Garrett Cockerill and Matej Paulovic, neither of whom has played a USHL game this season. Cockerill skated in two games for last year’s Lumberjacks.

Hargett providing energy for Jets

Travis Hargett is one year older and one year wiser.

After playing for the Metro Jets as a 16-year-old rookie last season, the Clarkston native returned this season and has applied what he took away from his first year into a consistent second season in Waterford.

“This season, I definitely feel that I'm picking up where I left off and that I needed no adjustment compared to last year,” said Hargett. “I feel that my on-ice awareness and knowing where I need to be has improved the most. At the beginning of last year, I felt helpless in a way until I caught up to speed. I also feel my skill set has improved this year.”

Hargett has four goals and 14 points in 30 games this year, compared to just seven points in 40 games all of last year.

“I feel that I've always been the presence on the ice that skates hard and shoots the puck as hard as I can when I get the chance,” explained Hargett. “I also want to be the guy who makes a hit so someone can pick up the puck and then I can drive to the net for a rebound.”

And for someone who doesn’t turn 18 until May, Hargett is a veteran on the team, but not one of the older players.

“I’m still the youngest forward on the team and I'm not the person to order people around, but my role is an energy line guy that makes plays,” Hargett said. “I came back this year because I love the game and because I know I can develop here to get to the next level.”

As for moving on, the Jets have seen several players over the last couple weeks make commitments for next season. Hargett wants to see his name added to that list and knows it won’t be easy,

”I think the No. 1 thing that I need to improve on to get to the next level is my skating,” admitted Hargett. “If you can’t skate well, you can’t play well.

”My goals for the future are to excel as best as I can and to go as far as I can in the future.”


The Jets split on the road last weekend with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, who entered the weekend second in the East Division.

Saturday night, Metro blew a two-goal lead in the third period, but came back to beat the Jr. Lumberjacks 4-3 after a nine-round shootout.

Justin Shureb scored the deciding goal in the shootout for the Jets.

In regulation, Steve Klisz scored twice with an assist, Matt Stemkoski had a goal and a helper, Mike MacKinnon two assists and Dillon Kelley made 36 saves in goal.

Klisz and Stemkoski scored two goals apiece, but it wasn't enough as the Jets fell to Cleveland 7-4 Sunday afternoon.

Stemkoski added a pair of assists for a four-point game and Kelley made 26 saves between the pipes for Metro.

The Jets (20-14-0-1) play just one game this weekend, welcoming Cleveland to Lakeland Arena on Saturday night for an 8 p.m. puck drop.


Two former Jets were in the news recently playing at higher levels.

Goalie Devin Williams, who started this season in Waterford, earned his first Ontario Hockey League win last Saturday night in his first start for the Erie Otters. Williams made 36 saves in Erie’s 7-4 win in Sudbury.

Williams, a 16-year-old from Saginaw, went 9-9-0 with a 3.88 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage with the Jets.

In the North American Hockey League, forward Mike Moroso was named to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament and will play for Team North later this month at the Troy Sports Center.

Moroso leads the Port Huron Fighting Falcons in scoring this season with 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) through 43 games.

Last season, the 20-year-old Macomb native was second on the Jets with 20 goals and was third overall in team scoring with 36 points.


Dave Hague, a defenseman who played for the Jets during the 1998-99 season, has been the head coach at Oxford High School for the past nine seasons.

After playing for the Jets, the 32-year-old Lake Orion native skated a season in the North American Hockey League for the St. Louis Sting, putting up five assists in 26 games in 1999-2000.

Hague had several colleges after him, but concussion issues forced him to retire at the age of 20.

Photo/Andy Grossman/Detailed Images