Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Local product Hellebuyck glad he chose Jets, NA3HL

WATERFORD, MI - For the Metro Jets and Chris Hellebuyck, the second time was the charm.

The Jets drafted Hellebuyck in 2010, but the Commerce Township native elected to play midget hockey last season with the Lansing Capitals.

When the 2011 North American 3 Hockey League draft came around this past June, Hellebuyck was again drafted by the Jets and this time, he made the decision to make the jump to junior hockey.

“When I signed with Metro, I knew a little about the league and I had a chance to skate with (Jets head coach) Jason (Cirone) the season before, so I knew a little about him as well,” said the 19-year-old Hellebuyck. “I feel lucky to play for a coach who I will learn from, rather than just play for, and so far I've really enjoyed the hockey in this league.”

Playing on a forward line with Doug Andrews and Josh Beleski, the trio has accounted for almost a third of the team’s scoring this season. Hellebuyck has two goals and eight points through five games.

“I think that getting to play with players like Andrews and Beleski has helped a lot,” Hellebuyck said. “Andrews is always their picking up where I left off with the puck and Beleski always seems to be in position. I also think that getting that first goal and having a good first game was very important for me. It takes a lot of pressure off me as a player so I can continue to try and get better now.”

The Jets had actually hoped for two Hellebuycks to be playing in Waterford this season and signed goalie Connor Hellebuyck, Chris’s younger brother, to a tender last May. Connor earned a tryout with the expansion Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League and made the team.

Still, having the older Hellebuyck is a great situation for the Jets.

“My goal in hockey is to earn a college degree with it and I think that junior hockey is the best route,” Hellebuyck said. “I would really like to play with my brother in Texas if I were given that opportunity, too. This season, my biggest expectation for myself is to improve on what I know were my weak spots last year. I would also like to make sure that I can help my team on the offensive side of the ice as well as the defensive side.”

To keep improving, Hellebuyck looks to two Detroit Red Wings forwards for inspiration.

”I really enjoy watching Pavel Datsyuk play because he is always where he needs to be,” explained Hellebuyck. “It looks like he's not working hard, but he will always be in the right place. I also enjoy watching Darren Helm play because it is somewhat of the opposite. He works hard and creates his opportunities that way.”

If the first five games are any indication, Hellebuyck will be enjoying a multitude of opportunities this year with Metro.


Matt Stemkoski scored the game-tying goal and then the overtime game-winner as the Jets came from behind and topped the Flint Jr. Generals, 4-3, last Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

The Jets, now 4-1-0-0, took a 2-1 lead into the third period on goals from Matt Stirling and Beleski before Luke McDiarmid and Edward Osowski gave Flint the lead with 1:06 to play.

With goalie Devin Williams on the bench for the extra skater, Stemkoski beat Flint goalie Dominic Orlando at 19:19 to send the game to the extra session where Stemkoski won it at 2:33.

Williams finished with 30 saves and has been in net for all four Jets' victories this year.

Mike McKinnon and Steve Klisz added two assists apiece for Metro.

The Jets host the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution (0-6-0-0) this weekend for a two-game series. Both games Friday and Saturday night at Lakeland start at 7:50 p.m.


The Jets released 17-year-old rookie defenseman Neal Krentz (Bloomfield Hills) prior to the game against Flint. Krentz had not seen any game action this season.


Vinnie Pietrangelo, Metro’s top draft pick in 2009, is entering his sophomore season at Finlandia University this fall on the Lions’ blueline.

Pietrangelo, a 20-year-old Traverse City native, tallied a goal and nine points in 47 games with the Jets during the 2009-2010 season. Last year with FU, he had two assists while playing in all 24 games.

Pietrangelo’s third cousin, Alex Pietrangelo, is starting his second season with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. Vinnie’s father, Tony, is third cousins with Alex's uncle, Frank Pietrangelo, himself a former NHL goaltender with Pittsburgh and Hartford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Photo by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Captain's Corner - Sweeping Queen City, bag skate, Flint game

Each week during the season, Metro Jets' captain Tommy Kilgore will chime in with his thoughts on what's going on with the team.

-- On last weekend's sweep at Queen City.
In Cincinnati, we played our game and did what (head coach) Jason (Cirone) wanted us to do and we came out of it with four points.

-- On the two-hour bag skate the team went through last week.
Last week's skate showed us that Jason is serious about this year and we need to be, too, otherwise we will be doing more of those two-hour skates. He knows we are talented and this past weekend, we showed him.

-- On turning 19 on Sunday.
I guess you can say I celebrated my birthday with a win and other than that, I didn't do much of anything.

-- On this Saturday night's game against Flint.
Flint is going to be ready for us and we are not going to take them lightly. We have some work to do this week in order to come out with a win.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Late-round draft pick Klisz showing he belongs with Jets

WATERFORD, MI - When Steve Klisz scored the overtime game-winner to send the Metro Jets past the Flint Jr. Generals in both team’s season opener two weeks ago, he said after the game that the goal was “definitely one of the biggest goals I’ve ever scored.”

Not too shabby for a player the Jets drafted in June in the 20th round with the 317th overall pick in the North American 3 Hockey League Entry Draft.

“We drafted Klisz on the recommendation of (former Metro assistant coach) Sean Clark,” said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. “So far, he’s been one of our most skilled players and is a kid that can bring the pace of the game to his level. That’s not something you teach and it also shows that he doesn’t panic.”

After he found out Metro selected him, Klisz (pronounced KLISH) started doing his research.

“When I was drafted, I honestly didn't know much about the Jets or the league, but after going to some (summer open) skates and talking to Coach Cirone, I realized that playing for the Jets would be the best for me,” explained Klisz, an 18-year-old forward from Livonia. “I like the team and I’m very glad I made this decision.”

Scoring his clutch goal against Flint only solidified Klisz’s decision to play for the Jets. Like he mentioned, it was one of a handful of what he considers to be memorable goals. He added three more this past weekend against the Queen City Steam and now leads Metro in scoring with nine points.

“Last year for Livonia Churchill High School, we played Orchard Lake St. Mary's in the state quarterfinals and I scored two big goals,” remembered Klisz. “Another time was in Bantams when I scored the game-winning goal at Joe Louis Arena to win the Little Caesar’s championship.”

Klisz, like most players at this level, has very high, yet reasonable expectations of himself.

”I want to play great defense, score 30 goals and have 30 assists and be a great team player,” said Klisz, who grew up looking up to NHL stars Steve Yzerman, Pavel Datsyuk and Mats Sundin. “One person I look up to is my dad. I wouldn't be playing hockey today if it wasn't for him.”

“He’s a very big part of our power play,” said Cirone of Klisz. “He’s so calm, cool and collected with the puck and we need a guy like that on the power play. We’ve scored a power-play goal in every game so far and Klisz is a big part of that.”

Klisz also has a hockey future mapped out past this year.

”I would like to play in the North American Hockey League next year and I think that would be a big achievement for me,” Klisz said. “Then after that, I would like to play college hockey. Ohio State has always been a dream ever since I was a little kid and that would be a blessing if I played for the Buckeyes.”

Keep scoring big goals and Klisz may have his pick of where to play in the future.


Metro captain Tommy Kilgore turned 19 last Sunday … Forward Travis Hargett was back in the lineup for the Queen City series after suffering an upper-body in the season opener against Flint on Sept. 9 … Williams is tied with Granite City goalie Matt Grove for most wins in the NA3HL this year (3).


Steve Oleksy
, a defenseman who played for the Jets during the 2004-2005 season, has agreed to terms with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on a contract for this season.

The 25-year-old Oleksy is returning for his third season with the Steelheads. He originally signed with the team in January 2010 and going to the Kelly Cup finals. He returned last season and solidified himself as one of the team’s top blueliners with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) and a team-high 134 penalty minutes for the Steelheads before being loaned to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

“Steve is a guy who got an opportunity last season and really took advantage of it,” Idaho coach Hardy Sauter said. “You want the kinds of players that will step up like Steve has. He got good experience with us and in the AHL last season, so we’re really happy to have him back.”

During his time in the AHL, Oleksy skated in 17 games, picking up four assists and 39 penalty minutes. He also appeared in three playoff games with Lake Erie.

After playing for the Jets, Oleksy played for the NAHL’s Traverse City North Stars and then three seasons at Lake Superior State from 2006-2009.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Metro gains two-game sweep on road in Queen City

CINCINNATI - The Metro Jets reeled off two wins on the road against the Queen City Steam this weekend, completing their first sweep in Cincinnati in more than five years.

The Jets, now 3-1-0-0 on the young season, won both games by a 5-3 count with goalie Devin Williams earning both wins.

"The funny thing that happened this weekend is that everyone played well," Metro head coach Jason Cirone said. "I rolled four lines Saturday night, but then we had a couple injuries and I played three lines plus one and eight defensemen Sunday. We played extremely well for five periods this weekend, with the exception being the third period Sunday."

Saturday night, Steve Klisz scored twice with an assist, Mike McKinnon had a goal and two assists, Matt Stemkoski a goal and a helper and Doug Andrews the other goal.

Williams finished with 24 saves.

Sunday afternoon, Klisz, Andrews, Stemkoski and McKinnon scored again with Branden Morganroth tallying as well. Andrews has scored in all four games thus far for the Jets.

"The guys worked hard all week and I think our practice Thursday was our best of the year," said Cirone. "It was upbeat, up-tempo and there was a lot of teaching and a lot of learning going on."

Matt Stirling chipped in with a pair of assists and Williams stopped 27 shots in goal.

The Jets return home to Lakeland Arena this Saturday night for their lone game this week, a 7:50 p.m. start against the Flint Jr. Generals.

Cirone said to prepare for Flint, a team that the Jets played on opening night and took a 8-7 win in overtime, not much should change this week in practice.

"We just have to keep continuing what we're doing," Cirone said. "Flint's a very good team and if we don't keep ourselves grounded from winning these two games in Queen City, Flint will fix that real quick."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rookie Andrews off to quick start with Jets

WATERFORD, MI – Doug Andrews is a player that Metro Jets’ head coach Jason Cirone said “is going to be a heck of a player for us this year.”

And after a six-point weekend to open the North American 3 Hockey League season last Friday and Saturday, who's to argue?

Andrews, who signed with the Jets late in the summer as a free agent, said he knew what he was getting into by joining the Jets.

“When I signed with the Jets, I had some knowledge of the league and I also knew some of the players that were in it,” said Andrews, a 19-year-old Macomb, Mich., native. “One of my coaches from last year, Andy Oleksy, informed me more about the team and thought this would be a good fit for me. When I signed, I actually didn't know much about Coach Cirone, but I know that he expects a lot out of his players. I'm glad I am playing for him this year. I’m going to work hard and focus on becoming an all-around better hockey player.”

Last season, Andrews was part of the Troy Sting Midget AA team (pictured) that won the state championship. The Sting was coached by Fred Costello, a former head coach of the Jets.

Once last season ended, however, Andrews was already looking ahead to making the jump to junior hockey.

“I really tried to prepare myself all summer for the upcoming season by off-ice conditioning and also working on my shot,” the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Andrews said. “This has helped me get off to a good start this season. I don’t really feel any pressure from what Coach Cirone said, I just go out and give 100 percent every shift.”

Growing up, Andrews idolized NHL stars Steve Yzerman and Peter Forsberg. He said both “always played with class and heart.” He tries to model his game after those two and hopes to one day climb the hockey ladder to higher levels.

“I would like to progress next year to the NAHL or a college team,” boasted Andrews. “I intend to do this by continuing my work ethic.”

Or just by simply continuing to be one heck of a player.


Mike Moroso, who played for the Jets last season, led the Port Huron Fighting Falcons over the Traverse City North Stars, 5-2, with a two-goal effort in a preseason NAHL game at Ferris State University on Sept. 8.

"(Moroso) basically made our team out of camp and the reason he did is because he put pucks in the net," Port Huron head coach Bill Warren said to the (Port Huron) Times-Herald. "Did I expect him to score two goals? No. But does he have that ability? Yes."

Last year with the Jets, the 20-year-old from Macomb, Mich., was third in team scoring with 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points in 43 games. He also led the team and was second in the NA3HL with four shorthanded goals.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Captain's Corner - Last weekend, Cirone's wrath, road trip

Each week during the season, Metro Jets' captain Tommy Kilgore will chime in with his thoughts on what's going on with the team.

-- On beating Flint in overtime at home to open the season Friday night.
We came out hard on Friday and we showed a lot of discipline and effort, especially coming back in the third and to win it in overtime.

-- On losing 10-3 Saturday to Cleveland.
The game against Cleveland was not great. It's not that we didn't work hard, we just didn't work smart. We didn't listen to (head coach) Jason (Cirone) and the systems he wanted us to run. We tried to do our own thing.

-- On wearing the 'C' for the first time Friday night.
On Friday, it felt great wearing the 'C' out there. I felt like there was more responsibility on my hands and that I needed to step up and be a leader when we got down by a few goals, but it felt good to be the one filling that role.

-- On Cirone's temper Saturday night.
We definitely felt the wrath of Jason after the second period Saturday when we were down by five he told us what we needed to do and we just didn't. He was pretty pissed off, as were we.

-- On how to get ready to play Adrian College (exhibition) and Queen City on the road this weekend.
We need to work hard this week at practice and come out hard against Adrian and have a good week and come even closer together as a team. Queen City is not a team to take lighty and if we run the systems Jason wants, we will be fine. If not, then it might not have the outcome we want from this weekend.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cleveland chops down Jets Saturday night

WATERFORD, MI - David Fassbender scored once and added four assists to lead the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks to a 10-3 win over the Metro Jets Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

Blake Hamilton, Cameron Dimmitt and Kyle Fink added two goals apiece, while LJ Dvorak finished with 16 saves to earn the win.

For the Jets (1-1-0-0), Zach Schlacht had a goal and two assists and Chris Hellebuyck and Doug Andrews each tallied a goal and an assist.

Dillon Kelley made 35 saves in suffering the defeat in goal.

Metro plays at Queen City next weekend.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jets top Flint in OT on Klisz game-winner

WATERFORD, MI - Steve Klisz’s second goal of the game at 1:54 of overtime gave the Metro Jets a season-opening 8-7 win over the Flint Jr. Generals Friday night at Lakeland Arena.

A see-saw game that had numerous lead changes, Klisz went in on a partial break on Flint goalie Ben Myers and went five-hole to complete a three-goal comeback and give the Jets their first home-opening win since a 9-1 thrashing of Toledo to open the 2006-2007 season.

“I saw the defenseman flip the puck in the air and I skated as hard as I could,” explained Klisz. “The puck dropped right in front of me, I picked it up, went in, saw the five-hole and scored. Definitely one of the biggest goals I've ever scored."

Doug Andrews notched a pair of goals and two assists for the Jets, while Chris Hellebuyck added a goal and three helpers. Mike McKinnon (also with two assists), Matt Stemkoski and Branden Morganroth scored one apiece.

Devin Williams stopped 44 shots between the pipes for Metro.

“We had a touchdown with a two-point conversion,” said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. “Do we have things to work on? Obviously. A win is a win is a win. They don’t ask how, right? They just ask how many. I told the players after the second period that if we’re going to run and gun, let’s make sure we get more and that’s what they did.”

Cirone wasn’t happy with the way the Metro defense played and said “changes will come tomorrow,” but was happy with Williams’ play in net.

“I thought the young kid played well,” Cirone said. “He faced 51 shots and maybe one that he allowed was shaky, but other than that, I thought he did a great job for us.”

Edward Osowski and Lucas McDiarmid scored twice for Flint, Josh Kestner tallied a goal and two assists and Myers finished with 21 saves.

The Jets host the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks tomorrow night for a 7:50 p.m.puck drop.

“You have to have a short memory,” said Cirone on how the Jets will prepare for Cleveland. “You have to learn from tonight and move on. (Cleveland coach-GM) Bob (Jacobson) always brings a quality team with a high level of talent and I’m expecting a harder game tomorrow night.”

NOTABLE: Stemkoski and Will Shier were the alternate captains tonight and will be for all home games this season. Jake Schlacht and Matt Stirling will wear the ‘A’ during all away games … Forward Travis Hargett went out in the first period with an upper-body injury. He’s listed as day-to-day … Ex-Jets players Morgan James (2010-2011) and Mike Denston (2009-2011) were spotted at the game … Williams won’t turn 16 until Oct. 30 … A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of those that lost their lives in Wednesday’s plane crash in Russia of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jets ready to start 2011-2012 season tonight

WATERFORD, MI - Let bygones be bygones, says Metro Jets head coach Jason Cirone.

After taking over the Jets last year just before the start of the season, Cirone guided the Jets to a 15-29-1 record in the North American 3 Hockey League. Not a bad year, all things considered, and then to move a half-dozen players up the hockey ladder this offseason made last season seem worth it.

That was then, though, and with the Jets’ season opener slated for Friday night at 7:50 Lakeland Arena against the Flint Jr. Generals, Cirone feels more prepared for this year.

“On paper, I like my team, but it’s always easier to like your team on paper,” said Cirone. “I think we have a different team than last year where we were a meat and potatoes-type team who liked to dump and chase. This year, we’re going to be a little more skilled and will hopefully control the play a little more than last year. Last year at this time, this really wasn’t my team, but now, this is my team.”

New captain Tommy Kilgore, who tallied 12 goals in 40 games a season ago for the Jets, has noticed the difference in the two seasons as well.

“We’re a lot closer-knit team and I think everyone is more committed than this time last year,” said Kilgore, a 19-year-old native of Pinckney. “Guys aren’t just showing up whenever. Everyone is coming to the rink on time and ready to play hockey. We had probably twice as any guys at our camps this summer and five times the talent. (Cirone) recruited so many guys and I know it had to be hard for him to make some of the cuts. Last year, we were still trying to get guys at this point.”

“We’ll have a lot of depth this year and again, that’s by design and that’s from the hard work of a lot of people this summer,” Cirone said. “Last year at this time, we were basically begging other teams for scraps. That’s nothing against the kids we had last season, but my team last year, we worked our tails off and I’ll never take that away from them. What made us win as many games as we did was the fact we were family.”

Returning skaters along with Kilgore include forwards Travis Hargett (Clarkston), Matt Stemkoski (Novi) and Matt Stirling (Dexter) and defensemen Ian Costello (Lansing), Jake Schlacht (Allen Park), Andrew Shalawylo (Clinton Township) and Will Shier (Sterling Heights).

Stemkoski, Stirling, Schlacht and Shier will serve as alternate captains – two will be home captains and two will wear the ‘A’ for away games.

“All five of our letters are kids that are coming back and that’s not taking anything away from the new kids we have because some of those kids are good leaders, but I told the kids at a meeting this week that you don’t need to have a letter on your jersey to be a leader,” said Cirone. “The way I see it, we have 26 players on the team, 26 leaders.”

Kilgore said being named captain is something that wasn’t expected, but is a challenge he’s ready to tackle.

“It’ll be different for sure,” said Kilgore. “Last year, I really wasn’t a talkative guy. I pretty much came to the rink, played my game and that was it. This year, I’ll have to get the team through any tough times we might have, get guys to step up, things like that. It’ll be more pressure, but I think I can handle it.”

“The reason why we made him captain, and it was unanimous, is that last year, he probably took more crap from me, persevered through it and didn’t take it personally,” explained Cirone. “He worked at it, got himself a call-up (to the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons in January) and even though he didn’t get another (NAHL) chance this year, he’s come back here and shown the leadership qualities and abilities he showed last year. It was actually a pretty easy decision to show loyalty to a kid that has shown loyalty to me.”

New to the team this year are goalies Dillon Kelley (Petoskey), Devin Williams (Saginaw), a 2011 draft pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, and Ethan Loo (Raleigh, N.C.), and forwards Tim Wlodkowski (Katy, Tex.), Chris Hellebuyck (a Commerce Township native whose younger brother, Connor, was tendered by the Jets to play goal this year, but wound up cracking the roster of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes), Mike McKinnon (Troy), Steve Klisz (Livonia), Cameron Bruff (Flushing), Branden Morganroth (Highland), Josh Beleski (Southgate) and Doug Andrews (Macomb). Oxford native and forward Tim Perks also made the team, but will miss the season recovering from a torn ACL.

Though two of the three goalies will be young (Williams is only 16 and Kelley just turned 17 last week), Cirone isn’t worried one bit.

“We have three guys who can step up and carry the load for us and play the most important position in hockey,” said Cirone. “Goalies have short memories, or at least they’ll learn to have short memories working with (assistant coach and goalie coach) Randy (Wilson), and that’s one of the reasons we brought him in on a full-time basis. I don’t know much about playing goal and I’m not going to start trying, so that’s why Randy’s here.”

Adam Reid (Georgetown, Tex.), Max Biggings (Hartland), Niels Oleson (the Jets’ first-ever Sweden native), Neal Krentz (Bloomfield Hills), Zach Schlacht (Jake’s younger brother) and Chad Frost (Clarkston) make up the new crop of defensemen.

“I think we’re going to be strong on the back end and I also think we’ll have a lot of talent up front,” Kilgore said. “Our goalie situation should be really good again and having Randy back is definitely a plus. Losing some of the guys from last year will be tough to replace, but I think a lot of the new guys coming in and some of the returning guys will be able to pick up the slack. We have the talent and we have the skill and I think if we all play the systems coach Cirone wants us to play, we should have no problem winning games.”

Dave Hague steps in as a new assistant coach. Sean Clark, an assistant last season, took a job with the central scouting office of the United States Hockey League. Jamie Hayden, a former head coach of the Jets, remains with the team in a special coaching capacity.

“I have said this since day one when I walked through the door here – we don’t just take good hockey players, we also want quality people,” Cirone said. “I don’t care how good you are. If you’re not a decent person, you don’t play here. The same goes for the coaching and scouting. I like to think I’ve surrounded myself with good people and as a team, that’s what we need to do for the players, too.

“I don’t think a lot should surprise me this year. I tell the kids all the time that the day you stop learning is the day you stop playing the game and it works that way as coaches, too.”

Wins and losses have their share of meaning when it comes to gauging team success, but according to Cirone, the NA3HL is more than numbers in columns.

“We call ourselves a development league and the kids all get a chance to play here,” said Cirone. “I told one kid this week that I treat everybody fair, but different, and as soon as they figure out what that means, we’ll be fine. The goal is always the same and that’s to move kids up. If we go 25-5 inour first 30 games and then 2-18 over our last 20, that’s a good season for me. That means other teams noticed our kids and now they’re gone. Was I disappointed in our record last year? Not one bit, but we did win more games last year than in the two previous years combined.

“Getting to the playoffs and winning a championship is always a goal, but overall, the main goal of Metro Jets hockey is to move kids to the next level.”


The Jets host Flint on Friday night and then the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks on Saturday night.

Both games face-off at 7:50 p.m.

“Flint usually has a pretty physical team, but we didn’t have too many problems with them last year,” explained Kilgore. “Cleveland is more of a team that doesn’t hit and is usually one of the faster teams we play. With the way things are looking right now, I don’t think we should have too many problems this weekend, but we’ll see.”

Cirone said he doesn’t want to look past any one game this year.

“Our division (with Flint, Cleveland and the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins) will be one of the toughest in the league,” stated Cirone. “It’s so cliché, but we’ll take it one game at a time. Hopefully, we have a team here that will make other teams worry about us rather than us worrying about them.”

Metro hits the road to play the Queen City Steam in suburban Cincinnati next weekend.

Stirling photo by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images