Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tennyson Chevrolet taking on Irish look

AZ Sports owners Keith Lang and John Cruse announced today that at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season, the Tennyson Chevrolet Junior Hockey Club will be renamed the Detroit Fighting Irish.

This name will represent the proud heritage of Lang and Cruse.

The Fighting Irish mascot, "Duck," is named in honor of the late Dick Lang, a true "smiling Irishman."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hounds open MWJHL playoffs March 22

The Hartland Hounds are on a mission.

After a 47-0-1-0 regular season in the Midwest Junior Hockey League with the lone blemish an overtime loss to the Michigan Ice Dogs, most are looking at the Hounds as a shoo-in to win the inaugural Veteran’s Memorial Cup as postseason champs.

Not so fast, say a couple players.

“It’s great winning 47 out of 48 games, but playoffs is a different season,” said Hartland captain Jake Henrikson. “If we play our game, I think we will do just fine.”

“Winning almost every game in regular season gives you a good vibe throughout the year, but that means absolutely nothing now,” added forward Jared Vincek. “We're 0-0, but if we play each game the right way and one at a time, then it'll be smooth sailing.”

And while most point to the team’s top scorers, goaltender Andrew Brownlee in net or P.J. Krystyniak on defense as key reasons the Hounds had a historical season, forward Thomas Kerr said it wasn’t any type of statistic that helped with success in Hartland.

“Winning 47 of 48 games certainly gave us confidence, but I think that one loss might seem devastating, it was actually much-needed in preparing us for the playoffs,” said Kerr. “I think the guys have a done a good job, but we haven’t won anything yet and this is where the hard work begins.

“We've had a lot of great highlights through the season, almost too many to pick from, but I would have to say the Bloomington road trip earlier in the season brought a lot of the guys together and we played good hockey from that point forward.”

Finlandia University, an NCAA Division III school in Hancock, Mich., also took note of the Hounds and signed Henrikson, Brownlee, Kerr and forward Cam Miglia for this coming fall.

Expect more college and higher-level junior commitments as well in the coming weeks.

That said, Hartland is poised and focused on bringing some hardware to the city with an eye on playing for the AAU/UHU national championship the first week in April in Las Vegas.

”For the Bloomington series, we’re preparing for that right now and I think it’s going very well,” said Kerr. “We just have to come out intense and pumped up and playing our game and we will have no problems ending out the series early and focusing on the finals and nationals.”

The Hounds and Bloomington play a best-of-three opening-round series March 22-24 (Friday-Sunday) at the Kensington Valley Ice House in Brighton. Game times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a 1 p.m. start time for Sunday’s game, if needed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cirone reflects on Jets' '12-13 season

Just because the Metro Jets didn’t qualify for the North American 3 Hockey League playoffs doesn’t mean all was lost this season at Lakeland Arena.

After all, one more win and the Jets would have been a .500 team. And a few less injuries and perhaps the Jets would be preparing for the opening round of the postseason.

“We let too many points slip away early in the season and it cost us at the end,” said third-year Jets’ coach Jason Cirone. “Going into the season, we had three guys coming back, made some trades in the summer, had a good draft and signed some free agents after some of the guys we tendered didn’t show up. Once the season started, we were very inconsistent and had to deal with so many major injuries. I don’t think I have ever dealt with as many injuries this season as I have in all my years of coaching combined.

 “At one point in the season, we only dressed 16 players and called up some Midget Major players to fill in. When that happens, you struggle because there is no chemistry with guys in and out of the lineup. Last year, we had that chemistry because we didn’t have any major injuries.”

Finishing 22-23-3-0 on the year, including a thrilling 4-3 win last Sunday over the East Division champion Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks at Lakeland Arena to conclude the regular season, the Jets had a shot to make the NA3HL postseason with less than a week left in the season, but a loss in Flint on March 5 shut those hopes down.

Cirone said that while the players were obviously disappointed, they still played out the last two games of the year last weekend against Cleveland.

“The day after the Flint game at practice, I could tell the guys were down,” said Cirone. “Then we play Cleveland Saturday and lose 9-2 in what essentially was a throw-away game, but then we come out and win on Sunday in a game that I think really showed what type of team we had this year. There was no quit in any of these kids and I’m proud of the way they got through the season.”

Playing with just two 20-year-olds this season in captain Matt Stirling and alternate captain Doug Andrews, replacing that pair will be a chore this offseason.

“Matt’s been here for three years and I was just saying the other day how hard it will be to make out the lineup card next season and not write his name on it,” Cirone said. “He and Dougie put up some great numbers this year and I would expect to see them both playing college hockey somewhere next season. We had just the two ‘92s and some teams had upwards of 10. We had a very young team this year.”

“There are tons of memories I will take from my time with the Jets,” added Stirling. “I think of at least two dozen right away that I will never forget like fights, road trips, coaches, teammates, goals, things like that. Some standouts in general are the times spent with the guys in the locker room and on the road, the lessons learned from Jason along with others over the years and the things I have learned about the game along the way.

“I wouldn’t trade those for anything else.”

Cirone is also counting on losing other players to the North American Hockey League, but in the business of developing players for that next level, that’s perfectly acceptable to Cirone.

Andrew Palushaj has played in the NAHL and I see no reason if he gets healthy that he can play there again,” said Cirone. “Also guys like Alex Holm, Mike Gambino and Myles Burrough, who I think could be a fifth or sixth defenseman in the NAHL, should get a shot and Kyle Shreve has a good chance after he tendered with Springfield.

“That being said, we want to win next year. You never know who’s coming back next year and a lot of these kids think they’re ready for the NAHL, but in reality, they’re not. (Jets’ assistant coach) Randy Wilson has done a great job all season tracking kids we like and might look at drafting (on June 4 at the NA3HL Entry Draft). We should have a good draft again with two first-round picks, one second, one third and two fifth-round picks.

“I’m looking forward to the draft and to next season. Like I said, we want to win.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Firehawks good choice for Yanks, Canucks

When Ryan Marshall and Matt Majic looked at their junior hockey options for the 2012-13 season, they each had choices to make.

In the end, only one team made the most sense – the Soo Firehawks of the new Midwest Junior Hockey League.

Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the Firehawks are playoff-bound after recently reeling off a 17-game winning streak. The team regularly plays to crowds of 200-300 most weekends at the Big Bear Arena and has a solid mix of players from the United States and Canada.

In Marshall’s case, suiting up for the Firehawks just felt right for the native of St. Ignace, Mich.

“We chose the Firehawks because we knew that it would be the best fit for Ryan,” said Wade Marshall, Ryan’s father. “We have played for the same coaches for the last four years and we knew Ryan would be able to fit in right away. Sault Ste. Marie has been a great place to watch Ryan play at this year. The Firehawks have great fans that are very supportive of the team and we have a great turnout at every home game.

“There is a very rich history with the sport of hockey is this city and it is shown everywhere you go in the city.”

Majic agrees with his teammate.

“The fans have been great and they really know their hockey and understand the game and support the team very well,” the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native said. “As well, the majority of players have played locally, so they know most of us from both sides of the border and cheer us on. Hockey is the top game in town.

“Living in Soo, Ont., a short two-mile drive across the border to the rink in Michigan, I can still live at home, enjoy the support of my family and attend school full time in the fire science program at Lake Superior State University. The team is very well run, the facilities great and the level of hockey in the MWJHL is impressive. Myself, as well as the other Canadians on the team, have been accepted and welcomed as part of the team.”

Majic is joined by countrymen Brandon Hansen (Sault Ste. Marie), Alex Drulia (Fort Erie), Cody Anderson (Sault Ste. Marie), Robby Boissoneau (Sault Ste. Marie) on the Firehawks’ roster.

Drulia’s uncle is former minor pro player Stan Drulia, who played 126 NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and also won an IHL Turner Cup in 1997 as captain of the Detroit Vipers. He has coached at the minor-league level since 2002 and is currently an assistant coach with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

“I chose the Firehawks because I was at an NAHL camp and they invited me to tryouts and when I got up here, I just didn't want to leave because of the great owners and coaching staff that we have,” Alex Drulia said. “This season has helped me out so much because coming here as 17-year-old, I get lots of ice and the coaches rely on my in those situations when we need to put a goal in to tie the game or to win it. When you’re young, you need lots of ice and the more ice you get, the better you'll get as a player.

“With the mix of Canadians and Americans, it has really gone well. I mean, you'll always have those jokes between the two, but our team has really jelled well and I'm really glad I chose the Firehawks this season.”

Hansen, one of the top goalies in the MWJHL this year, is on the same page.

“Choosing to play for the Firehawks this year happened out of luck,” Hansen admitted. “I didn't find out about the team until about three days before the main camp. I got a hold of coach Joe Esson and he gave me the opportunity to come try out not knowing anything about me or seeing me play and I thank him for that or else I would be playing in the local men's league. This season has been great and has helped me improve and develop more as a player and an individual. Having practice everyday gives the team and players the opportunity to improve all the time if you work hard at it.

“For bonding it has been easy. I see these guys everyday and sometimes more than I see my parents, which makes every one of them family to me. As for bonding off the ice, we manage to always stay in contact which each other. I couldn't have asked for a better team, staff and owners and this season has by far been my favorite.”

Still, at the end of the day, citizenship matters little to Majic when suiting up to play hockey.

“Matthew was looking to continue playing hockey and had made the Midget AAA Soo Indians, but they had folded and he wasn't ready to hang up his skates - the competitive fire was still alive,” said Rob Majic, Matt’s father. “We had always told him to play as long as he could at the highest level he could. The coaches from the Indians had forwarded his name to the Firehawks. He went out and enjoyed the caliber of hockey and the team and made the team shortly before the beginning of their season. We talked to the coaches to ensure that the schedule and time commitment was acceptable with his full-time school schedule and that the team philosophy was consistent with ours.

“In the end, it was Matt’s decision and we have been very impressed with the organization and very happy with his choice.”

Marshall said that while the winning has helped with team camaraderie, being in a solid organization with teammates who will be friends for life has also made this year very enjoyable, both on and off the ice.

“This is a really competitive league and there are so many skilled players here,” said Marshall. “A lot of the guys here will get an opportunity to move on next year. It’s a great feeling to me knowing that we’re part of a league that is doing so much to develop its players and push them to the next level.

“I’m definitely happy I chose to play here.”

Marshall has had college offers from the University of Michigan-Dearborn (ACHA Division I) and Calvin College (ACHA D-III), but is leaning towards playing another year of juniors in the 2013-14 season.

“The league has provided great exposure for Ryan,” said Wade Marshall. “Ryan's long-term goals in hockey are to play at the highest level that he possible can. We as a family feel that he has what it takes to play at a very high level of hockey. We feel that Ryan has been taking the right steps in his hockey career to make this happen.”

Majic also has aspirations to ascend the hockey ladder, but for the time being, winning an MWJHL title is the top priority on his plate.

“I would like to continue to play hockey as long as I can at the highest level - I just want to continue to live the dream,” said Majic. “If I can continue to play hockey at a university while continuing my education sometime in the future, that would be great, but right now, the Firehawks are a great fit.”

“He wants to keep playing hockey while getting a solid education,” added Rob Majic. “If hockey presents other opportunities down the road, I'm sure he would be interested. However, the Firehawks and the MWJHL have been a great experience and very rewarding.”

In just its first year of existence, the MWJHL has already seen four players from the regular-season champion Hartland Hounds commit to NCAA D-III Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich. Expect more to be announced across the league in the coming weeks, perhaps even some from the Firehawks.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Metro's Bessey, Hepler finish steady

Aaron Bessey and Brad Hepler both joined the Metro Jets midway through this season, but both came to Waterford under much different circumstances.

Bessey was playing midget hockey in Omaha, Neb., and Hepler was a rookie with the NA3HL’s Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks starting the season.

At the NA3HL Showcase in December in Blaine, Minn., Bessey was approached by the Jets’ brass to skate a few games on their depleted blue line and then in January, Hepler was acquired from Cleveland for veteran forward Jeff Monfils.

Both acquisitions paid immediate dividends.

Bessey, just 16, was only expected to play a handful of games, but stayed the rest of the season in Waterford. Hepler, a forward by trade, wound up playing both forward and defense for the Jets.

“Prior to the trade, I felt like the season was going in the right direction,” said Hepler, an 18-year-old Chelsea native (pictured). “I was told that I would be given more ice time, so I can't complain, and I felt like being closer to home was going to be better. Being away was also nice, though. My impressions of the Jets were that they were a good, physical team that works hard. My time with Metro has been great, starting with the guys making it comfortable for me on and off the ice.”

When Bessey joined the team, he immediately became one of the youngest players in the league.

“When I joined the NA3HL, I saw the game was a lot faster-paced and everything you did had to be quicker and react faster to the play,” said Bessey, a Howell native. “My experience makes me want to potentially play in the NAHL next year and to make it as far as I can in the long run.”

Hepler’s future goals mirror those of Bessey.

“My short-term goal playing hockey would to be playing in the NAHL by the end of my junior career,” explained Hepler. “My long-term goal is to play in the NHL.”

And with the heartbreaking loss last Tuesday night in Flint that mathematically eliminated the Jets from the playoffs, both Bessey and Hepler said everyone on the team played out the rest of the year as if the playoffs were still an option.

“I think the mood with the team was still great because even though we're out of playoffs, I think we really pushed to win the rest of the season as if we still were competing for playoffs,” Bessey said.

The Jets finished the season splitting with the Jr. Lumberjacks at Lakeland Arena last Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Waterford native and Cleveland rookie Scott Cuthrell scored five goals and added an assist as the Jr. Lumberjacks defeated the Jets 9-2 Saturday night.

Doug Andrews and Mike Lawrence scored for the Jets, while Trevor Kalinowski made 23 saves between the pipes.

The Jets then ended their 2012-13 season with a thrilling 4-3 win over the Jr. Lumberjacks on Sunday.

T.J. Krajewski led the way for the Jets (22-23-3-0) with a goal and two assists and Kalinowski made 32 saves in goal.

"I'm proud of the way the kids played today," said Jets' coach Jason Cirone. "They really put together a great effort and I'm proud of them."

Brian Ziola, Mike Gambino and Chris Mayer also scored, while Andrews and captain Matt Stirling each had an assist in their final junior hockey games.

For Cleveland, Dominic Valencia scored twice and goalie Nick Danczak made 12 saves.

After the game, instead of both teams heading to their respective locker rooms, they gathered at center ice for a post-game handshake.

Next up for the Jets are weekly conditioning skates that will start shortly at Lakeland Arena and then the NA3HL Entry Draft on June 11.

Check back later this week to for a comprehensive season recap. 


Steven Oleksy, who played for the Jets from 2003-05, made his NHL debut March 5 for the Washington Capitals with an assist against the Boston Bruins in a 4-3 overtime win and then tallied his first NHL goal Sunday afternoon versus the New York Rangers in a 4-1 loss.

Oleksy started the year with the AHL’s Hershey Bears before getting the call from Washington.

The 26-year-old from Chesterfield played for the NAHL’s Traverse City North Stars, captaining the team in 2005-06, and then skated three years at NCAA Division I Lake Superior State from 2006-09 and embarking on a pro career that has seen him play in the IHL, ECHL and AHL.

Oleksy, affectionately known as “Bink,” is the first Jets’ alumnus in the program’s 24-year history to skate in the NHL.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Warriors' Erkkila commits to Wildcats

The Michigan Warriors have announced that forward Levi Erkkila has verbally committed to Northern Michigan University.

The Calumet native is in his first season playing for the Warriors and has four goals and five assists for nine points in 36 games this year.

"I am excited to see the continued development of our players," Warriors' coach Moe Mantha said. "The Warriors organization is extremely pleased for Levi. This is an excellent opportunity for him to continue his hockey career and education."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lawrence providing major spark for Jets

Michael Lawrence has been all over the map over the last year or so, but is happy to have found a home with the Metro Jets this year.

Last season, Lawrence skated for the West Michigan Hounds AAA and in the North American Hockey League for a bit with the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings.

This year, he started out with the Granite City (Minn.) Lumberjacks, the team that tabbed him in the tenth round of last summer’s North American 3 Hockey League draft. With the Lumberjacks, Lawrence tallied two goals and six points in 13 games, but wanted a bigger role.

On Nov. 30 while both teams were at the first league showcase in Blaine, Minn., Lawrence was traded to the Jets and since the deal, has 17 points in 24 games in a Jets’ uniform.

“I requested a trade here because I felt I wasn't getting the playing time I deserved in Granite City,” said Lawrence, a 20-year-old from Mattawan. “With all the returners they had from winning a national championship last season, I kind of got lost in the mix of players. I came into the league kind of blind and not really knowing what to expect, but I feel I adapted pretty quickly, which was good.”

Lawrence said he serves a variety of roles with the Jets, a team scratching and clawing to earn a playoff berth.

”My role is to bring a physical presence on the ice and to answer the bell when called upon, but who doesn't like to score?” quipped Lawrence. “On this team, the mood changes depending on the day. Some days, we have a lot of life, but the next, we come out with no energy or drive. All in all, though, the mood is always good. Obviously, the captains like Matt Stirling, Dougie Andrews and I are called upon the most to get the boys going, but we have a group of leaders including Andrew Palushaj, Hargs (Travis Hargett) and Zack MacKay who aren’t afraid to let everyone know what's on their mind.

”As far as I'm concerned, there's still a lot of season left. We just need to grip down and play hockey like we can. We aren’t out of the playoffs just yet. If that day comes where we are officially out of the playoffs, that doesn't mean the season is over. We will still be playing for our pride.”

Playing for the love of the game is something Lawrence learned at a young age from his father, Mark Lawrence, who logged 142 NHL games with the Dallas Stars and New York Islanders and also played several years in the minors after starting in the Ontario Hockey League and playing at one time for the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, now known as the Plymouth Whalers.

“I give him my dad the credit to where I am today,” said Lawrence. “He was still playing when I was growing up playing, so it was always easy to talk to him about the game. Then him coaching me my whole life, he was able to mold me into the player I am today. I just wish I had the scoring touch like him, though.”

Next season, Lawrence knows the options should be aplenty, but wants to look at each and every one of them with a fine-tooth comb.

”I have a great offer to play for Aquinas University, but also I still have another year of junior eligibility left, so I'm really up in the air right now,” Lawrence said. “I just want to take things day by day.”


Forward Josh Beleski, who made his return to the Jets just prior to the NA3HL trade deadline and roster freeze two weeks ago, was originally the team’s first-round draft pick in 2010.


Jack McCoy played with the Jets during the team’s early years and has worked his way up to be a linesman at the American Hockey League level.

McCoy, a Livonia native who played college hockey at Oswego State in the SUNYAC, has also worked as an on-ice official in the OHL, ECHL, International Hockey League and United Hockey League.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hounds' quartet off to D-III Finlandia

Andrew Brownlee, Jake Henrikson, Thomas Kerr and Cam Miglia are teammates this season with the Hartland Hounds and will be teammates once again next year as the quartet has committed to play NCAA Division III college hockey at Finlandia University.

Located in Hancock, Finlandia plays in the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association and is coached by John McCabe, a former assistant coach at Division I Alabama-Huntsville.

All four players said this season with the Hounds in the inaugural season of the Midwest Junior Hockey League has done wonders for their development to the point where they feel they will be able to make an impact as freshmen next season for the Lions.

“(Hartland coach) Randy Montrose has played a huge role in my career ever since I become a player on his teams three years ago because he expects nothing short of 100 percent, whether it be a practice or a game,” said Brownlee, a 19-year-old Fowlerville native. “Playing for the Hounds just comes to show that no matter where you play hockey, if you’re good enough, other teams such as FU will find you.”

Brownlee leads the MWJHL in all goaltending categories, including wins (29), goals-against average (1.87), save percentage (.932), shutouts (five) and minutes played (1734:58). He is also a three-time Goaltender of the Week and a two-time Goaltender of the Month.

Henrikson, Hartland’s captain, has been at or near the top of league scoring much of the season. Like Brownlee, he gave credit to Montrose for pushing him this season to reach his goal of college hockey.

“Randy told me about Finlandia and then they came and watched us play and talked to me after,” the 20-year-old Commerce native said. “Randy has always helped me out with my hockey and finding the right place for me to go. I know playing at Finlandia will be really fast hockey and a lot of hitting and my goal is to get good grades and still play hockey. I think it will be great going in and already knowing a couple guys playing there.

“That being said, yeah, we’ve committed, but we all know that now is when the hard work begins to be able to get to campus in the fall and contribute. We also still have our season here to finish up and get ready for nationals in April. The commitment is great for all of us, but we’re not content with sitting back and talking about that. We want to bring a national championship to Hartland. That’s our immediate goal.”

For Miglia, a 19-year-old Brighton forward, he had always looked at Finlandia and took it upon himself to take initiative at the start of the 2012-13 season.

“I emailed Finlandia University at the beginning of the season because I was interested in playing there,” said Miglia. “They came out to watch me play and were interested. Randy has pushed me a lot to be my best everyday and helped me get better at the parts of my game that needed it most. It's always been a dream since I was little watching college games at Yost Ice Arena (in Ann Arbor) and it finally came true. I would like to thank my mom and dad for paying for hockey this long and putting up with me all these years. I also want to thank all the Hounds coaches this year – Randy, Scott (Gardiner) and Marty (Passino) are all great coaches.”

“The Hounds and Randy have played the biggest role in getting here,” said Kerr, an 18-year-old Howell native. “After my high school career, I didn't have much faith that I would be playing NCAA hockey. When the opportunity presented itself to play for Randy again, I had to jump on it and it definitely has paid off. I think his coaching style this year and the last five years of my life have developed me into the player I am today.”

The foursome went on a visit to Finlandia several weeks back to survey the campus and hockey facilities and to also meet with McCabe. Each player came away impressed.

“I learned it's a very small school, which I like,” Miglia said. “You will know pretty much everyone there. John McCabe seems like a great coach and I know he's moved guys on to the pro level. I like that he takes his hockey very serious.”

“When we went on our visit, I learned the guys do everything together, making you that much closer as a team and those are the kinds of things I like to see because you can count on anyone to do the little things at any point throughout the year and season,” said Brownlee. “When I met and talked with Coach McCabe, I noticed that he's a young coach that is looking to form a solid program up at FU and is looking forward to forming a winning program.

“Ever since I was a little kid, it was a dream of mine to play pro or college hockey and when it comes to things like getting this opportunity, I want to thank my family, especially my parents for helping me all the way through my career and putting up with all the junk I've put them through to get me to where I am now. I would also like to thank Randy for all the help he's given to me and guidance he's given not only me, but to all his players throughout his coaching career.”

“It’s been a dream of mine to make it to college hockey ever since I stepped on the ice competitively in Squirts,” said Kerr. “It seems like a very long time since then and playing collegiate hockey has never stopped running through my mind. Just like every hockey player, it is a huge dream to play hockey in college. My parents have been the most supportive people throughout my hockey career. From going to every game, driving me to trips, all the time spent at the rink, I wouldn't be the player I am today without them. I would also like to thank Randy, Scotty and Marty. I’ve been skating with them for the last six years of my life and every season with them has been successful in developing me into a better player.

“Randy is a coach that takes pride giving 100 percent to make you the most successful hockey player you can be and if you give 100 percent of your efforts, you will receive 100 percent of his.”

At the end of the day, the praise is a nice pat on the back, but Montrose said it’s all about the players.

“As a coach, I have always believed that it is about teaching and advancing players,” said Montrose. “That is our primary responsibility as a coach. I am beyond proud of these gentlemen that have taken pride in advancing themselves.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MacKay aims to finish strong for Jets

Admittedly, Zack MacKay hasn’t had the season he envisioned when he signed with the Metro Jets last summer.

Suffering an injury in the season-opening game against Battle Creek, the 19-year-old forward from Brighton said that set him back a bit, but he has continued to improve and round out his overall game to the point where it’s obvious why the Jets tabbed him in the second round of last summer’s NA3HL draft.

“I had come to one of the open tryouts and immediately, one of the assistant coaches came up to me and asked where I planned on playing and which teams I had talked to,” said MacKay. “I told him the only place I had gone to try out was for the Michigan Warriors in the NAHL and that another NA3HL team was interested in me. After the first skate, (Metro head coach) Jason (Cirone) called me out of the locker room and told me he wanted me and said he was going to try and draft me in the first round. I told him I'd love to play for him and had no interest in the other team.

“I didn't know much of anything about the team or the league, but one of my coaches last year (with the Detroit Falcons 18U AAA team in the NAPHL) had told me about Jason and the Jets and said it'd be in my best interest to go skate with them and see how it was. Last year was my first time playing AAA. I had played high school before that (pictured, with Brighton High School) and it was a lot faster and better competition. It helped me prepare for juniors just with the speed of the game play.”

MacKay planned on being among the team leaders in scoring this year, but it hasn’t panned out. He said the injury played a major role.

”I feel the role I carry is that of leadership and playing physical, as well as playing strong defensively,” MacKay said. “With my injury in the first game of the season, I had lost a lot of what I trained for in the summer – shooting, stickhandling and overall conditioning. I truly don't think I’ve had a good season at all. The injury set me back way too much and since then, I haven’t been able to get back to where I was.”

As a team, the Jets have played with a young roster all season and are currently mired in fifth place in the East Division – out of the playoffs at this point. That said, no one is throwing in the towel on this season.

“The mood is constant throughout the team where everyone is sick of the results we have been getting,” MacKay said. “I think our captain, Matt Stirling, is best at keeping everyone loose. We're not trying to be loose about the situation, but it’s hard to keep a positive attitude when everyone does their job, works hard, but we just can’t get a break.

“We need to take it one game at a time, while keeping the whole picture in mind. Yeah, we need to focus on the next game at hand, but we also need to remember that each game is crucial for us to get a playoff spot. Everyone has been showing more heart lately, so I'd have to assume everyone else is thinking the same way.”

And going one day at a time is the same philosophy MacKay takes when it comes to his individual career.

“My long-term goal is to play college hockey, but as the season has progressed, I think it's been changing to just playing in the NAHL or BCHL or any higher tier,” said MacKay. “It's changed because of the situation the team is in now and how we need to take it one game at a time. For me, it’s the same idea – one level of hockey at a time.”


Forward Ryan Chapie (broken collarbone, out for season) and goaltender Austin Julvezan were released just prior to the NA3HL roster freeze on Feb. 10 and forward Anthony Saleh was traded to the Elliot Lake Bobcats of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.

The Jets also signed Farmington High School forward Cooper McLean to a tender for next season.


Cameron Bazin, a forward who played two seasons with the Jets from 2010-12, is currently in his freshman season at Olivet College where he is a member of the school’s lacrosse team.

Bazin, a 20-year-old from Troy, tallied 10 goals and 20 assists for 30 points in 68 games with the Jets.

The Olivet lacrosse season starts Feb. 23.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Hounds' Grix all heart on, off the ice

When someone tells Myles Grix that he has heart, he takes it seriously.

After all, about 18 months ago, that quite literally almost wasn’t the case.

During his senior year at Waterford Mott High School, Grix started having chest pain and waking up a lot at night before one day passing out in class.

“I was taken to the hospital to have some tests run and after a week of tests, the doctor told me I had a hole in my heart and I'd probably never play hockey again,” said Grix, now a 20-year-old goaltender for the Hartland Hounds. “The only chance (to play hockey again) was to have surgery. I underwent three surgeries (July, August and September 2011) and every time, I would get worse news saying the hole is bigger then they thought. Finally, my doctor, parents and I decided it was best to just go to open-heart surgery (on Sept. 29, 2011). They told me it ended up being the biggest hole on record (the size of a fifty-cent piece).”

The surgery went well and shockingly enough, so did rehab.

“The day after my surgery, I was back up and walking which was a major surprise to my doctors,” Grix said. “I was out of the hospital in four days and I went back for a check-up the next Monday and surprised the doctor even more by how fast I was healing.”

As for hockey, well, so much for never playing again. Grix beat those odds, too.

“I got back on the ice the weekend of Thanksgiving 2011 for just a fun skate with my friends, but waited another month before trying to play competitively,” said Grix. “I started playing with a morning skate with some guys from my dad’s work and began to finally feel like I was getting back into it. After a summer of working with (goalie consultant) Randy Wilson, he told me about the Hounds and I knew this was my opportunity to prove to all the people who doubted me ever coming back and playing competitive hockey.”

So far this season in Hartland, Grix has been the primary backup to Andrew Brownlee, but does have a 3-0 record in seven games with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

”At the beginning of the season, I didn't feel ready,” admitted Grix. “I was shaky and nervous, but since (Colin) Longeway’s hunting accident, I realized I needed to step up and start pushing myself more, but I still don't feel 100 percent just yet, but I'm close.

”Playing alongside Brownlee has been great. He is a great tender and I've definitely learned a few new things and a whole new way to play the game.”

With the Hounds leading the Midwest Junior Hockey League standings, Grix realizes he has the opportunity to potentially be part of something special in Hartland.

”This season has been awesome and it's honestly one of the best feelings,” Grix said. “Everyone talks about us, everyone knows us and it's great. I know I haven't played much, but it's still good knowing that we all contribute as best we can. We all push each other to be the best at practice. It's also great to have coaches that can have fun, but at the same time push us to be our best.”

”My goals for the rest of this season are the same as the first day I signed with the Hounds – to get better and become the best player I can, win a national championship and play college hockey next year.”

Spoken like one who has heart – and a lot of it.

The Hounds (38-0-1-0) host the Rhinelander Street Cats Friday night and Michigan Ice Dogs Saturday night at the Hartland Sports Center. Game time Friday night is 7:30 p.m. with an 8 p.m. start scheduled for Saturday. Hartland then travels to play the GL Lightning Sunday afternoon at noon at the Allen Park Civic Arena.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Jets' Shreve tenders with NAHL's Jr. Blues

Kyle Shreve has played for three different teams this season at three different levels, but somewhere along the way, he made an impact and earned an opportunity to move up (again) to the North American Hockey League next year.

Shreve, an 18-year-old forward from Wixom, signed a tender agreement on Wednesday with the Springfield (Ill.) Jr. Blues of the NAHL.

A tender is a contract of sorts that a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team.

Starting the 2012-13 season with the NAHL’s Michigan Warriors, Shreve then came to the Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League before playing for the Belle Tire Midget Major AAA team and eventually finding his way back to the Jets.

“From what I hear, the Springfield organization is a great organization that runs things the right way and is loyal to its players,” Shreve said. “This is a great opportunity and I hope I fit in well and can contribute immediately.”

This year with the Jets, Shreve has posted five goals and eight points in 11 games. He said three of his coaches this year have contributed immensely to his development.

“(Belle Tire coach) Chris Coury, (Jets’ head coach) Jason Cirone and (Jets’ assistant coach) Randy Wilson have all been very important in giving me this opportunity, especially Randy,” said Shreve. “It’s always great as a player when you have three coaches that have a lot of connections in the hockey world pulling for you and I’m very thankful for that.

“I think that there is a lot to work on before next season. I think the biggest part is adjusting to the size of the players and the speed of the game so I think that working on my speed and strength are key.”

Cirone feels Shreve will have no problem making an impact with the Jr. Blues.

“Kyle is a power forward who works extremely hard,” said Cirone. “He loves to hit and doesn’t mind getting hit. I think he’s a perfect fit for what Springfield is trying to build.”

With about five weeks left in the NA3HL season, the Jets are aiming to make a run and qualify for the league playoffs. Shreve knows what needs to be done to extend the Jets’ season.

“I think we know what we need to do,” said Shreve. “We’re working hard every day at practice and Coach Cirone makes sure we are prepared every day for our next game. “I don’t think anybody is happy with our record, but at the same time, I think this is a great group of guys and we come to work hard every practice and game."

The easy part is talking about it – now we need to put it together and show why we belong in the playoffs.”


Josh Cliff, a 19-year-old goalie from Northville, was added to the roster this week.

The Jets also dealt 19-year-old defenseman Josh Hosking to the Three Rivers Vengeance for a first-round pick in the 2013 NA3HL draft and future considerations. The Oxford native recorded 11 points in 23 games with the Jets.

The Jets-Flint Jr. Generals game that was postponed back on Jan. 31 has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 9 p.m. at Iceland Arena in Flint.


Forward Mike Moroso, who finished third in team scoring in 2010-11 with 20 goals and 36 points, is wrapping up his freshman season with the Adrian College ACHA Division I team this year.

A 21-year-old Macomb native, Moroso skated last season with the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons, tallying 14 goals and 38 points in 56 games and also playing in the league’s Top Prospects Tournament.

This year with the Bulldogs, Moroso is averaging close to a point per game with 10 goals and 22 points in 23 games.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Jr. K-Wings to cease operations

Stadium Management Company, which owns the Wings Stadium Complex, Wings West and the Kalamazoo Wings, announced Monday that the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings will cease operations following the conclusion of the 2012-13 North American Hockey League season.

Tough economic conditions in this small marketplace, already home to both Western Michigan University hockey and the ECHL's Kalamazoo Wings made business success impossible to achieve.

SMC will continue to operate Wings West in a world-class manner and continue to enhance and improve this outstanding facility for user groups and patrons. Wings West will continue to host thousands of hours of ice time from the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA), who will be celebrating its 50th season in 2014-15, the West Michigan Hounds, high school hockey, adult league hockey, speed skating and the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association.

“SMC will continue to deliver exceptional experiences for all of our user groups and patrons and we will strive to make both facilities the unmatched choice for entertainment on and off the ice in southwest Michigan,” said SMC general manager Jim Burlew.

Reestablished prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, the Jr. K-Wings are in their second season as a member of the NAHL. Prior to Monday’s announcement, SMC notified the NAHL of its decision to cease operations after this season and to sell the junior franchise to another ownership group looking for membership in the league.

The Jr. K-Wings will continue to operate as normal through the conclusion of the season.

“Everyone at SMC is extremely proud of the accomplishments of Marc Fakler, as well as his staff and players over the past two seasons and we’re looking for a strong finish as the Jr-Wings head into the playoffs,” said Burlew. “We also extend our sincere gratitude to the housing families and to our volunteers that welcomed our players to the community and helped in our game-day operations.”

Fakler has been exceptional during his two years in charge of the Jr. K-Wings. Finishing second in the North Division, one point behind the Port Huron Fighting Falcons last season, the Jr-Wings are once again in the hunt for the North Division title. Kalamazoo is currently tied with the Jamestown Ironmen for second place in the division. Not going unnoticed by the NAHL, Fakler’s accomplishments have been rewarded, as he has been named an assistant coach for the North Team in the NAHL Prospects game for the past two seasons.

Developing players on and off the ice, Fakler has helped his players get noticed by colleges, as 13 players, including five from this year’s team, have made commitments to continue their playing careers in college.

The announcement to cease operation of the Jr. K-Wings will not affect the Kalamazoo Wings, who will be celebrating their 40th anniversary next season.

Metro's Mayer a New Mexico transplant

Chris Mayer wanted a change.

He wanted better hockey.

So his family uprooted from Santa Fe, N.M., a little more than three years ago and moved to West Bloomfield, where Mayer currently lives while playing for the Metro Jets.

Mayer, one of two out-of-state natives on the roster along with Las Vegas' Thomas Evans, landed in Michigan in the summer of 2009, just prior to his freshman year at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School, where he played the past three years before winding up with the Jets this season.

Last year, Mayer was teammates with current Jets’ goalie Austin Julvezan as OLSM advanced all the way to the Division I high school state semifinals before going out to Brighton High School in a double-overtime thriller.

“I felt like I needed a change from high school hockey and since I heard a lot of good things about (Jets’ head coach) Jason Cirone, that helped a lot with the choice,” said Mayer. “I was also influenced to try out by Tom Evans, who is my best friend. I really didn't know that much about the team, but I knew that the league does a good job of developing its players.”

When Mayer initially moved to Michigan, the adjustments to the hockey landscape and the geographical landscape were equally tough at the start.

“Besides the want for better hockey, my mom grew up in Ferndale and pretty much her whole family lives here, plus my parents wanted me to go to St. Mary's,” explained Mayer. “The hockey atmosphere from Santa Fe to Michigan is 100 percent different. There are only seven teams in the whole state of New Mexico and at first, it was a little overwhelming at how much hockey there is in Michigan, but I feel I made the adjustment fairly quickly.”

This season with Metro, Mayer has one assist in 30 games, but believes his game is more than goals and assists.

“I believe my role on the team is to be a high-energy guy and to always be that hard-working guy,” said Mayer. “I think playing at St. Mary’s helped me prepare mentally and physically for junior hockey. My short-term goals are to play in the NAHL next year and I have always wanted to play Division I college hockey, so that is my long-term goal.”

And as the Jets make one final push to gain an NA3HL playoff berth, though just a rookie, Mayer knows what needs to be done and what’s at stake each time the team hits the ice.

“We know that we have to be serious if we want to improve our record, but we do that while also trying to keep a positive attitude,” said Mayer. “The veterans know how to maintain order in the room and are very good about keeping our heads on right.

“Personally, I think if we really focus on winning as many games as possible the rest of the way, we will be able to do it. The team feels the same way, too.”


Defenseman Ian Cosgrove, who played for the Jets during the 2006-07 season, is currently in his senior season at Fredonia State University, a Division III school in Fredonia, N.Y.

After graduating from the Jets, the Rochester native played two seasons in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Soo Thunderbirds before going to Fredonia, where he has been on the dean’s list the majority of his time at the school.

During his season in Waterford, Cosgrove, who turns 24 in June, recorded three goals and eight points in 13 games.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Kalamazoo loads up for NAHL stretch drive

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have traded for Wenatchee Wild defenseman Dillon Eichstadt and Springfield Jr. Blues’ forward Mike Fazio.

Eichstadt, an 18-year-old defenseman who hails from Bemidji, Minn., comes over to Kalamazoo after being dealt for future considerations. The 5-foot-10 Eichstadt has played in 24 games during his rookie campaign and has posted nine points on two goals and seven assists. He has also played to a +4 rating throughout the season.

Kalamazoo coach Marc Fakler called Eichstadt a “very skilled puck moving defenseman, who should make an immediate impact.”

In a separate move, the Jr. K-Wings have traded forward Davis DeKorte and future considerations to the Jr. Blues in exchange for Fazio, a three-year veteran of the NAHL having bounced around from Austin to Bismarck to Chicago and Springfield. The 20-year-old from Bartlett, Ill., has scored 51 points in 118 career games, having netted 22 goals and tallying 29 assists. This season, Fazio has scored 11 goals and added 16 assists for a total of 27 points in 44 games.

Fazio was the captain of Springfield and should add an element of goal scoring, toughness, and leadership.

“He’ll provide more veteran leadership and there is no doubt that he will help the production of our offense,” said Fakler.

In yet another roster move, Kalamazoo released defenseman Cole Pierce.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Daavettila makes splash in Hartland debut

Add Gabe Daavettila to the list of Hartland Hounds’ players who came in knowing half the team and the coaching staff.

Daavettila, a 19-year-old Howell native, signed last week and made his debut on Saturday night with a four-point (goal, three assists) outing in a 9-1 win at home over the G L Lightning.

Not too shabby for his first game, eh?

“A couple weeks ago, Coach (Randy Montrose) called and asked if I wanted to come and play for the Hounds,” said Daavettila. “I said sure. It’s nice being able to play junior hockey so close to home. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t so close to home.”

During the 2010-11 school year, Daavettila captained the Howell High School varsity squad, coached by Montrose, that lost in the Division I regional final to Novi High School.

Daavettila hadn’t played hockey since then – until that fateful call from his old coach.

“I knew Montrose had moved from high school to the Hounds and I know most of the players on the team, but I don’t know much about the league,” said Daavettila. “I think it’s been going good so far.”

After just a handful of practices and one game under his belt, Daavettila said it’s easy to see why the Hounds are 37-0-1-0 this season going into this weekend’s rematch with the Lightning.

“No other team can match the talent we carry on our roster,” said Daavettila. “We seem to have all the right pieces in the right places. For me, it’s all about going out there and having fun.”

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jr. K-Wings get vet Polin from Port Huron

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have traded David Parrottino and future considerations to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons in exchange for forward Kody Polin.

Parrottino had just recently joined the Jr. K-Wings from the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. The 18-year-old only played three contests in a Kalamazoo sweater after the move. In each of those three games, he was held out of the points column and racked up four penalty minutes.

Polin, a 20-year-old, two-year veteran forward of the NAHL, adds more experience to the Jr. K-Wings' lineup and a knack for the back of the net. The Trenton native tallied 24 goals and 14 assists last season for 38 points, enough to leave him tied for second on the division champion Fighting Falcons.

Through the course of this season, Polin has 14 points (12 goals, two assists) in 38 games and has shown an element of toughness, having registered 85 penalty minutes.

Ironically enough, Polin played his last game with Port Huron against Kalamazoo, as the Jr. K-Wings defeated the Fighting Falcons 2-1 on Wednesday night.

The Jr. K-Wings anticipate Polin to make an immediate impact.

“We’re looking for Kody to help produce offense here in Kalamazoo," said Kalamazoo coach Marc Fakler. "He is a proven goal scorer in this league."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Las Vegas' Evans cashing in with Jets

Thomas Evans came all the way from Las Vegas to play for the Metro Jets.

Well, sort of.

A current Waterford native, Evans and his family moved nearly three years ago from the West Coast for a variety of reasons – one of which was, of course, hockey.

“In the beginning, I didn't actually know a lot about the Jets, but I did know about the league and that it was going to be a good place to help me improve and eventually get to where I want to go,” said Evans, who turns 18 in March. “My mom is originally from Port Huron and she wanted to move back and my parents wanted me to go to school here. I also came to have a better chance with hockey.”

Last year, Evans manned the blue line for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and made it all the way to the Division I state high school semi-finals, where Brighton moved on after a double-overtime victory.

Playing at a high level with OLSM made Evans realize the potential he had to play junior hockey.

“After last year, my goal was to play junior hockey this year,” explained Evans, who has a goal of Division I college hockey in the future. “I tried out for the Jets and I liked the team and the coaches, it was close to where I live and all of those things made my choice easy. Coming from high school to juniors was a big step that was challenging, but I feel like it was the right choice and that it was good for me to make that step.”

Making the jump to the NA3HL, Evans hasn’t seen his role as a defenseman change much, only that the game is faster and his decision-making has to be quicker.

“First and foremost, my role is to not allow the other team to score and second, to move the puck up the ice as quick as possible to help our forwards get moving up the ice,” said Evans. “I think my strengths involve my skating ability, passing and seeing the ice.”

Heading into this weekend, Evans wants to see the Jets pick up a couple notches in the win column and eventually, go on a run leading into the league playoffs in March.

”It is always disappointing to not have the record that we would like, but we have had some close games and we could easily have a better record,” Evans said. “I believe that we are all maintaining a positive attitude because it's not over yet. The veteran players all know we can still do it and they all help out the younger guys by being positive even when it's tough for them as well.

“We still want to win and I am sure that is how everybody else on the team feels as well. There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season and we will continue to improve one day at a time.”


Last weekend, the Jets suffered a two-game sweep at home to the Michigan Mountain Cats.

Metro (12-18-1-0) hosts the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks this Saturday night at 8 p.m. and then the Toledo Cherokee on Sunday for a 2:50 p.m. start.

After this weekend, the Jets are not home again until March 2.


Jets’ forward Ryan Chapie suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday and is out for the season. Defenseman Derek Britton (shoulder) may be back before the end of the season and forward Mike Gambino (hand) is still 2-3 weeks away from returning.


Former Jets’ coaches Jon Cooper and John Burkart are now with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

Cooper, who led the Jets to the 2002 Silver Cup Junior B national title, is the head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate. After leaving Metro, Cooper won national championships in the NAHL with the St. Louis Bandits and in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers.

Burkart, an assistant to Cooper on the 2002 team, scouts for Tampa Bay.

Both Cooper and Burkart attended the second annual USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game this past week in Muskegon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hounds add Howell goaltender Michalik

If a winning pedigree has anything to do with the Hartland Hounds’ success this year, newly-signed goaltender Christian Michalik can certainly add to that list.

An 18-year-old Howell native who won a Division I high school state championship last season at Brighton High School, Michalik saw action this season in the North American 3 Hockey League with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks and Minnesota Flying Aces.

Being able to now come home and play juniors is the perfect situation for Michalik.

“I had some family trouble that needed to be taken care of and I just felt that I was better off playing hockey with the Hounds while still living at home,” said Michalik. “I know that (Hartland coach) Randy (Montrose) is a great coach and I know he had great success at Howell and so far this year, the team has had tremendous success. I don’t know much about the MWJHL, but I know that the competition from what I have seen has been great. There is a lot of speed, skill and physicality.”

Playing on a state championship team last season and earning the victory in the title-clinching game against Grosse Pointe North in front of a packed Compuware Arena in Plymouth gave Michalik all the confidence he needed to make the jump to junior hockey.

“I think the strongest part of my game is my confidence and calm demeanor on the ice,” Michalik said. “I play very relaxed and confident and the players on the ice can feed off it and know that I will be there to stop the puck and they can go out and just play their game.

“Last season's run with Brighton prepared me for juniors because I realized that when me or my team's backs are up against the wall that I can raise my game to the next level to help win games for my team to accomplish a goal we had set out for since the beginning of the season.”

And while Michalik will push Andrew Brownlee and Myles Grix for time between the pipes, all he wants to do is help contribute on and off the ice.

“My personal expectations for this year are to continue to improve my game and get better numbers so I can get looks from North American Hockey League scouts as well as NCAA Division III scouts,” explained Michalik. “I also want to help the team accomplish our goal of winning a national championship and hopefully come April, we're the last team standing in Vegas.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

D'Angelo working to improve for Jets

Devon D’Angelo just wanted a chance to play hockey and the Metro Jets have given him that opportunity.

This time last year, the 19-year-old West Bloomfield native may not have thought junior hockey was a possibility after injuring his knee early in his senior year at Walled Lake Northern High School.

Then again, hard work (and modern medicine) pays off.

“Once I was almost fully healed, I told myself I did not want to hang up the skates after high school, so I made my way to the Jets’ organization,” said D’Angelo. “And here I am.”

D’Angelo has a goal and five assists in 27 games with Metro and admittedly, wants to boost those numbers as the North American 3 Hockey League season starts to enter the stretch run.

“On a personal level, I am very disappointed in my game,” D’Angelo said. “I’m in quite a slump this season and am not very happy about it. I have a lot more potential to show the team and coaches. Coach (Jason) Cirone has helped me significantly this year with my game. There's a few things I need to change myself to move up and start producing more points, though. I feel that I bring the team positive energy, talent and many forms of communication.

”As a team, I feel like we've come a long way. We all stay on each other and are very close. From the locker room to the ice, we're always staying positive. I still feel like we have a lot to work on over the rest of the season.”

From a personal standpoint, D’Angelo said that from where he first started playing hockey to where he wants to go, it’s definitely been an exciting journey.

“I had a stick in my hand at three years old and was on my way to the ice around four,” explained D’Angelo. “My dad brought me into the game as he was a very talented hockey player himself. My future goal is to play ACHA Division I club hockey. I have been looking at Oakland University and a few others. I plan on trying out OU's camps, as well as some NAHL camps this summer to see where I'm at. On and off the ice, I want to become a stronger player, physically and mentally.”

With the Jets, finishing the season on a high note is the priority for D’Angelo.

“My outlook the rest of the way is that we step it up and start winning some games,” D’Angelo said. “If we finish strong here, we can make the playoffs and raise a cup in the future. We need to start this in practice as we have a team full of talent that can dominate a majority of the teams in the division.”


Aside from adding goaltender Riley Corbin on loan from the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers, the Jets also released goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (now with the Whalers on a full-time basis) and traded forward Jeff Monfils and defenseman Chad Frost.

Monfils, a 20-year-old Washington native acquired last summer from Cleveland, was sent back to the Jr. Lumberjacks at the end of last week for 18-year-old defenseman Brad Hepler, a Chelsea native.

Frost, a 19-year-old Clarkston native in his second season with the Jets, was then traded to the Quad City Jr. Flames earlier this week where he will join Aksel Campbell, another ex-Jets’ defenseman who was acquired by Quad City two weeks ago.


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, now 31, 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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Augustyn happy with role on Hounds

Scott Augustyn knew exactly what he was getting into when he decided to play for the Hartland Hounds this season.

When the team started to shake out into a Howell High School reunion, complete with the coaching staff, Augustyn couldn’t sign with the Hounds fast enough.

“Coach (Randy) Montrose has been my coach for the past three years and he is a great coach,” said the 18-year-old Augustyn. “When I found out he was creating a junior team, I was committed.”

A steady defenseman, Augustyn said his years at Howell High readied him for the junior hockey style of game.

“Howell prepared me for this year because we ran the same systems that we run this year,” Augustyn said. “My role on the team this year is to be a solid defenseman and rack up some points. Playing with a group of guys such as the Hounds can really boost your confidence because everyone is there to move on and help one another.”

And even after the Hounds tasted defeat for the first time last Wednesday in an overtime loss against the Michigan Ice Dogs, Augustyn said that may not have been such a downer of a game.

“It's always hard to lose, especially since our record has been so good,” said Augustyn. “I think we needed to lose and we needed to see that we can be beat by a team. Now, we can better prepare for future opponents. I think a key component to our success lately has been buying into the systems that we have been taught.

 “If we work as a team and move the puck, I think we can win every game. We definitely have the talent.”

TRANSACTION: Hartland signed forward Collin Myers on Monday. The 19-year-old Myers is another Howell High School alumnus who is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday night against the Ice Dogs at the Wayne Community Center.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Schueneman commits to Western Michigan

The Michigan Warriors have announced that defenseman Corey Schueneman has verbally committed to continue his hockey career playing for head coach Andy Murray at Western Michigan University.

The Brighton native is in his first season playing for the Warriors.

“There is no doubt about Corey’s offensive contribution, but we are very proud of his development as an all-around defenseman, which will help his growth as he continues his career at Western Michigan University," said Warriors' head coach Moe Mantha. "I'm excited to see the continued development of these players and the Warriors' organization is extremely pleased for Corey. This is an excellent opportunity for him to continue his hockey career and education."

Schueneman, an offensive defenseman, leads the Warriors in defensemen scoring with five goals and nine assists for 14 points and a plus-3 rating.

Kalamazoo obtains Kohls from Kenai River

The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have announced the completion of a trade that will send forward Mikhail Bushinski to the Kenai River Brown Bears in return for forward Lucas Kohls.

Bushinski is a 20-year-old native of Woodbury, Minn., who was the leading scorer for the Fresno Monsters when he came over to the Jr. K-Wings in late October. He is a two-year veteran of the NAHL and was fourth on the Fresno 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.

In his time with Kalamazoo, Bushinski played in 20 games, but was never able to get it going offensively as he was only able to produce a goal and five assists.

Kohls, a 19-year-old native of Forest Lake, Minn., leaves the Brown Bears having been ranked second on the team in scoring. In 34 games with Kenai River, he had nine goals and 14 assists for a total of 23 points.

There is no word as to when the rookie will make his way to Kalamazoo from Alaska, but Kohls should be ready to play by next weekend at the latest.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plymouth, Generals make swap of imports

The Plymouth Whalers announced today the acquisition of 19-year-old left wing Sebastian Uvira – along with the Kitchener Rangers’ fifth-round pick in the 2013 Ontario Hockey League draft – from the Oshawa Generals in exchange for 19-year-old defenseman Simon Karlsson.

Uvira - from Freiberg, Germany - was selected by Oshawa 46th overall in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League import draft. This season, Uvira has scored three goals with three assists for six points over 23 games. He has 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points and is plus-4 in 81 career games with the Generals.

Karlsson was taken by Plymouth 90th overall in the 2012 import draft. In 34 games with the Whalers this season, Karlsson - from Malmo, Sweden - scored two goals with nine assists and was plus-1 in 34 games.

Uvira is expected to report to Plymouth today and will be in the lineup this weekend when the Whalers host Brampton on Friday and Erie on Saturday at Compuware Arena.

Photo/OHL Images

Whalers trade Bratina, acquire Trocheck

The Plymouth Whalers announced Thursday the acquisition of 19-year-old center Vince Trocheck from the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for 17-year-old center Zach Bratina, second- and third-round draft choices in 2015 and a third-round choice in 2016.

“We are very excited to be able to acquire Vince,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He is someone we’ve coveted since his minor midget draft year (Detroit Little Caesars). Vince and Ryan Hartman are coming here just having helped the United States win a gold medal in the World Junior Championship. I am looking forward to seeing Vince in the lineup this weekend.”

Trocheck – from Pittsburgh – leaves Saginaw as the second-leading scorer in franchise history with 94 goals and 146 for 240 points in 236 games. This season, Trocheck has 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points and is +18 over 35 games. He’s one of the best face-off men in the Ontario Hockey League and was considered the face of the franchise as captain in Saginaw.

Trocheck was originally selected by Saginaw in the second round (24th overall) of the 2009 Ontario Hockey League draft. Later, Trocheck was taken by the Florida Panthers in the third round (64th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft and has been signed by the Panthers.

Trocheck and Hartman helped the United States win the gold medal in Ufa, Russia. Trocheck scored three goals with three assists for six points and was plus-5 in seven games. Hartman scored two goals and an assist in the tournament.

Bratina was taken by Plymouth in the first round (19th overall) of the 2012 OHL draft and scored four goals with four assists for eight points in 37 games.

Division rivals usually don’t make trades and Vellucci acknowledged Saginaw’s participation in the deal.

“I want to thank the Saginaw Spirit organization for making this deal possible,” Vellucci said. “It’s not always easy to make a deal with a cross-town rival, but they are getting an exceptional person and player in Zach Bratina. We are going to miss him.”

Trocheck is expected to report today to Plymouth and will be in the lineup this weekend when the Whalers host Brampton on Friday and Erie on Saturday at Compuware Arena.

Photo/OHL Images

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Young goalie Nedeljkovic a hit in Jets' net

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic may not play another game for the Metro Jets this season, but he sure made an impression in his time with the team during the past couple months.

A 16-year-old who played for the Belle Tire Minor Midget team last season, Nedeljkovic was drafted by the Plymouth Whalers in the sixth round of last April’s Ontario Hockey League draft and figured to be the Whalers’ third-string goaltender this season.

That’s how it started and that was expected, said Nedeljkovic. He just wanted to see some rubber. So calls were made.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to get a lot of playing time at the beginning of the season being the youngest goalie in Plymouth,” explained Nedeljkovic, a Parma, Ohio, native. “When the time did come where I was going to play my first game, (Plymouth) coach (Mike) Vellucci didn’t want to put me in net without being in game shape or having any kind of junior hockey experience, so for the first few months of the season, I would practice once a week with the Jets and play games for them whenever I could.”

The level of play in the NA3HL is also just what Nedeljkovic had in mind.

“The NA3HL was what I pictured junior hockey to be like – hard-hitting, guys playing physical and making creative plays,” Nedeljkovic said. “Guys were a lot bigger than AAA hockey, their shots were harder, the speed of the game was much faster and guys were always going hard non-stop. It was the kind of hockey that I wanted to play.”

Nedeljkovic went 5-3-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in nine game with the Jets. He has also won six games with the Whalers, including both last weekend at home against the Owen Sound Attack and Guelph Storm, and is now the primary backup to Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect Matt Mahalak.

“My experience in playing with the Jets was very helpful when I was able to play with Plymouth,” added Nedeljkovic. “Having the feel of junior hockey and the quickness of the game really helped me to fine-tune the little things in my game. I took my time playing with the Jets as an opportunity to make myself better, to try and tweak little things and work on them as much as I could. I was able to get a feel for junior hockey while playing with the Jets and that gave me a lot of confidence when I was able to play with Plymouth.”

Going back and forth and sometimes practicing with both the Jets and Whalers on the same day was grueling at first, but gradually something Nedeljkovic grew accustomed to.

 “I practiced everyday with Plymouth and once a week, I would practice with the Jets after I did with Plymouth,” explained Nedeljkovic. “I was very happy to be playing hockey, though. I hadn’t played in a game since pre-season with the Whalers, so I knew that my first game back in the net wouldn’t be my best and it took a little time to shake the rust off and get used to playing game speed, but I was just looking forward to experiencing the thrill of stopping pucks and playing hockey.”

Nedeljkovic added that while his time in Waterford may have been short and sweet, the Jets’ organization certainly left a lasting impression on him.

“The first day I got to the rink and practiced with the team, I was very excited that I was given a chance to play some junior hockey for the Jets,” said Nedeljkovic. “When I first met (Metro coach) Jason (Cirone), I could tell that he was a great coach that wouldn’t take any nonsense from anybody. He wanted to get the most out of his players and would do his best at practice and at games to get 110 percent out of them. I was also looking forward to working with (assistant coach) Randy (Wilson) and hearing what advice he had to give me about my game that could help me fine-tune a few things and make me a better player.

“That’s one of the biggest things I liked about the Jets organization – when you were there, you were being pushed to be the best you can be.”


Last Friday, the Jets traded defenseman Aksel Campbell to the Quad City Jr. Flames and also released forward James Tuljus.

Campbell, from Lone Tree, Colo., was acquired from Three Rivers in October and the 18-year-old was held without a point in 17 games with the Jets.

Tuljus, an 18-year-old West Bloomfield native, was a 2012 draft pick of the Jets and saw action in nine games this season without recording a point.

The Jets also added Saleh, an 18-year-old Grosse Pointe Farms native and 2012 draft pick, and 18-year-old forward and Wixom native Kyle Shreve, who had started the season with Metro, prior to the series in Pittsburgh.

Saleh started this season with the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League.


Defenseman John Baker, who led Jets’ defensemen in scoring a season ago, recently joined the Oakland University ACHA Division I team and will skate with former Metro teammate Tommy Kilgore.

Baker, a 21-year-old Waterford native, tallied five goals and 22 points in 36 games in 2011-12.

Other ex-Jets on OU’s squad include David Merkle (2009-10), Adam Novack (2007-09) and Art Dore (2007-08).

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Whalers deal Aleardi to Spits for Lorentz

The Plymouth Whalers on Monday announced the acquisition of 19-year-old left winger Zach Lorentz from the Windsor Spitfires in exchange for 20-year-old right wing Alex Aleardi.

Ontario Hockey League teams have until noon on Wednesday to cut down to three overage players (1992 birthdays) on their respective rosters. Monday’s transaction allows Plymouth to keep defensemen Colin MacDonald and Austin Levi and center Mitchell Heard as the team’s overage players.

Windsor has an overage slot available, so the deal was made for Aleardi, who was acquired by the Whalers on. Sept. 20, 2010, from Belleville for a pair second-round draft choices.

Aleardi scored 71 goals and 62 assists for 113 points in 164 career games with the Whalers.

 Lorentz is no stranger to the Western Conference.

 Originally selected in 12th round (223rd overall) by the Kitchener Rangers in the 2009 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, Lorentz played two seasons in Kitchener, enjoying his best overall season with the Rangers last year when he scored 19 goals and 14 assists for 33 points and was +11 in 66 games. He played against the Whalers in the Western Conference semi-finals last year.

In all, Lorentz has scored 31 goals with 28 assists for 59 points in 156 career games.

Lorentz scored against the Whalers on Dec. 31 in a 5-2 Plymouth victory at Windsor Family Credit Union Centre.

 Lorentz was traded to Peterborough last summer and moved to Windsor on Nov. 22 in a deal with defenseman Trevor Murphy in exchange for right wing Derek Schoenmakers and defenseman Brandon Devlin. Draft choices went both ways.

Lorentz is expected to report to Plymouth for practice on Tuesday and will be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Whalers play in Saginaw against the Spirit. He’ll make his Whalers’ home debut at Compuware Arena Friday against Brampton and Saturday against Erie.

The OHL’s final trade deadline is set for Thursday at noon.

Photo courtesy Tim Cornett/Windsor Spitfires

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Hounds' forward Savard finding niche

What’s not to like about the Hartland Hounds?

That was the question Brad Savard found he was asking himself when he was looking for a new team to skate for earlier this season.

One of the team’s newest forwards, the 18-year-old Milford native is finding his niche with the team and enjoying the ride as the Hounds enter Saturday night’s road game against the Michigan Ice Dogs with a perfect 32-0 record.

“I ended up playing for the Hounds because my original team, the Detroit Falcons, was not working out for me and I wanted to be on a team that would benefit me,” explained Savard. “I wanted to play for the Hounds because I had heard great things about the coaches, I knew some people on the team and it sounded like the team played a style of hockey I could apply myself to.

“I feel I've adjusted quite well. I love the style of play that this team uses.”

Last year, Savard played high school hockey for South Lyon High School and was teammates with current Hartland forward Jared Vincek.

“South Lyon helped prepare me for juniors through the amount of practice and time put into preparing myself physically and mentally,” Savard said. “This season is a much higher level than high school. It’s faster and more physical of a game.”

Savard also has his sights set on his future, including looking at a school the Hounds will play in an exhibition game on Jan. 19.

”My short-term goals in hockey are to try to make it to the USHL or on to a college team, more specifically, Eastern Michigan's college team,” said Savard. “The hard work never stops, so we’ll see.”

And what's not to like about a hard-working player looking to realize his dreams?