But then a funny thing happened – the line Stirling was put on with Tommy Kilgore (Pinckney, Mich.) and Mike Moroso (Macomb, Mich.) became the Jets’ scoring machine. Heading into this weekend, the trio has accounted for 22 goals – more than one-third of the team’s 51 goals.
“Everything just seemed to click when (Metro head) coach (Jason Cirone) put me with those guys,” said Stirling. “I knew Tommy from my high school days and I was already was good friends with him. I met Moroso when the Jets brought him in. We have had good chemistry as I have got to know them both better and how they both play. Both of these guys have been key to our line’s success so far.”
According to Stirling, being a top point-getter is a role he’s been accustomed to before.
“In the high school days, that's what I was on the team for and what my high school (Dexter (Mich.) High School) expected of me,” explained Stirling. “For this year, however, I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win. If being a go-to guy for the Jets is what they need, I'll do it, but to me, doing whatever to help the team win is first priority.”
Named an alternate captain this year, Stirling earned the confidence of the coaches even before the season started and that has carried over into the regular season.
“He leads by example with his work ethic,” said Cirone. “The guys see how hard he works and it’s hard not to follow him. He’s a level-headed kid and that’s what you want in a leader. You want a kid that doesn’t get too excited when things are going good and doesn’t get too down when things aren’t going so well. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him this season.”
Stirling wasn’t sure where he would play this season after his high school season ended, but a visit to a game from Jets’ head scout Tim Ross swayed his decision to come to the Jets and play in the Central States Hockey League.
Focused on this season right now, Stirling also has aspirations to keep playing past this year.
“I just want to take juniors one step at a time and see how far I can go in hockey.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets played in the annual CSHL Showcase last weekend at Ice Mountain Arenas in Burton, Mich., and after winning their first game against the host Michigan Mountain Cats, dropped the next three games to see their overall record this season dip to 6-8-0-0.
Mike Denston's goal at 18:23 of the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and the Jets held on to beat the Mountain Cats, 3-2, in the opening game last Friday afternoon.
After a scoreless first period, Moroso scored at 14:09 of the second period to give Metro a 1-0 lead.
Dan Hudson (Gregory, Mich.) tallied 55 seconds into the third period before two straight goals by the Mountain Cats (Daniel Cowan at 10:31 and Trevor Ladd at 12:52) tied the game at 2-all.
That set the stage for Denston's (White Lake, Mich.) heroics.
Robert Schultz finished with 44 saves for Michigan.
The Peoria Mustangs used three power-play goals to snap the Jets' five-game winning streak Saturday morning with a 6-4 win.
Hudson scored twice for the Jets, while Moroso and Brett Grech (Hartland, Mich.) each had a goal and an assist.
Metro captain Mike Corder (Warren, Mich.) chipped in a pair of assists from the blue line and Trunick finished with 24 saves in net.
Mason Riley recorded two goals and two assists for Peoria, while Nathan Chasteen and Kyle Hamilton each tallied twice and added an assist.
Mike Czupryn made 17 saves for the win between the pipes and Mike Mikulan added two assists. Metro took a 1-0 lead into the third period Sunday afternoon, but the Mountain Cats scored three in the third to escape with a 3-2 win.
Grech staked the Jets to the early lead at 17:44 of the first period.
After a scoreless second period, Jake Endicott scored the first of his three goals 1:25 into the third period, but Moroso answered for Metro at 5:55.
Endicott then scored two shorthanded goals at 9:24 and 13:38 to give the Mountain Cats the win. "I give the Mountain Cats credit - they didn't quit and kept coming at us," Cirone said. "That's a sign of a good team and today, the Mountain Cats were also the better team. We played well, just not well enough. Their goalie (Schultz) was outstanding."
For the Jets, Matt Braun (Ramsey, N.J.) made his CSHL debut in goal and finished with 25 saves.
"Matt played very well," added Cirone. "He gives us a good 1-2 punch with Trunick, but Eric is still our No. 1 guy. No question."
Schultz made 42 stops for the Mountain Cats.
Monday afternoon, the Jets completed the CSHL Showcase with a 7-4 loss to Peoria.
“If we play how we know how to play, I expect to sweep,” said Stirling. “We need the points and I definitely think if we play our best, we can come out with a couple of wins.”
The Jets traded forward Josh Beleski (Southgate, Mich.) to the Michigan Ice Dogs of the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League late last week. Beleski had not seen action this season for the Jets.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The Oakland University ACHA Division I roster boasts 13 former Jets players.
Goalie Alex Pikunas, forwards Art Dore, Kevin Kranker, Jordan MacDonald, David Merkle, Adam Novack, Steve Wiechec, Jon Wickersham and Jesse Worrell and defensemen Jacob DeSano, Brian Jacobs, Colin Ronayne and Steve Vandenberghe all played at Lakeland Arena at one time or another in recent years.
Novack was the Jets’ captain in 2008-2009, while Merkle, Wickersham and Vandenberghe played for Metro last year.
Kranker and DeSano were also named to the U.S. National University Team that will play in the Winter World University Games Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2011 in Erzurum, Turkey.