Thursday, December 29, 2011
He chose high school and Jets coach Jason Cirone was fine with that decision.
“We drafted him and felt he was ready to make the jump to juniors last season,” Cirone said. “He made a personal decision and wanted to go play high school hockey and we respected that. This year, he’s shown he wants to be here and really been a consistent, steady force for us.”
This year, the 18-year-old Beleski is seventh in team scoring with seven goals (three on the power play) and eight assists for 15 points in 22 games.
“Josh is a guy I can count on in every situation and I know he’s going to do his job,” said Cirone. “He’s been doing it defensively by blocking shots on the penalty kill and also playing on the power play. In certain situations, you usually have kids who can only do certain things, but I think Josh does a lot of things very well and that’s why he plays in all situations.”
Cirone said Beleski has all the makings to be on a North American Hockey League roster next season.
“If he keeps working hard, I think North American League teams will start to take notice,” Cirone said. “Josh is dedicated to improving his game and I think he can definitely play at the next level. It all depends on how much he wants it and from how he’s played so far this season, I can see him playing up there next year.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets are on holiday break, but will get back to practice later this week.
In their last game before the break on Dec. 18, the Flint Jr. Generals topped the Jets 7-6 in a shootout at Iceland Arena in Flint.
Metro’s next game action is at home against Flint on Saturday, Jan. 7 and then the following afternoon in Battle Creek.
With a slew of healthy forwards and Tim Perks ready to make his season debut after suffering a shoulder injury before the season, moves may be on the horizon for the Jets.
“We’re very forward-heavy and we need to do something,” said Cirone. “We’ll probably be moving some bodies in the next few weeks.”
The NA3HL trade deadline is the first week in February.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The Kalamazoo Wings signed Dustin Cloutier, a forward who played for the Jets in 2003-04, last week to an ECHL contract.
Cloutier, a 25-year-old Berkley native, joins the K-Wings after starting this season in the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Augusta RiverHawks where he posted 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 20 games.
Before turning pro, Cloutier was a four-year standout at Division I Bentley College (2007-11).
Friday, December 23, 2011
This past week, the Mustangs offered a tender to Reid for the 2012-13 season and the 19-year-old happily accepted.
A tender is a contract of sorts 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. Each team is granted eight tenders - plus or minus any trades - which become active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.
“The tender opportunity came up at the showcase in Chicago the first week of December,” explained Reid, a Kalamazoo native who lived the past 14 years in Georgetown, Tex. “After our first game against Quad City, (Jets coach Jason) Cirone said that New Mexico was inquiring about me and that they'd be watching me again in our game the next day. After the second game, their scout and assistant coach Nick Shackford approached me with the offer.”
“I’m very proud of Adam,” said Cirone. “We’re in the business of developing and advancing our players and I think this speaks volumes in Adam’s case. He only played four games of midget hockey last year dealing with a concussion, but came in this year and has been one of our most consistent defensemen.”
Reid has also done his homework on the Mustangs, a second-year NAHL franchise coached by Jason Kersner.
“I know the Mustangs are a solid organization with good ownership and management,” said Reid. “I also know they started out a little rough this season, but have been turning it around lately with all their roster changes. They're only a few points out of the playoffs right now and expect to make it. Cirone also knows their coaches pretty well and has respect for them, and I have a lot of trust in his judgment.”
While the tender doesn’t guarantee Reid a spot in Rio Rancho next fall, he’s going to do all he can to add his name to the growing list of Jets’ advancements.
”To prepare to make the team next year, I want to gain a little more weight and become faster and stronger,” Reid said. “I also have several tactical things that Shackford and Cirone have said I need to improve on.
”Cirone and the Jets get a lot of credit for helping me with this opportunity. Having just missed the (NAHL’s) Port Huron (Fighting Falcons) cut last summer, I think I was a little too confident coming into this league, but Cirone brought me back to reality and showed me all of my deficiencies and how to fix them. He has been a tremendous help.”
This season, Reid has four assists and 27 penalty minutes in 24 games for Metro.
The Jets (15-11-0-1) are off until Saturday, Jan. 7 when they host the Flint Jr. Generals at Lakeland Arena.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
As a Waterford native, Baker has come home for his last season of junior hockey and said the opportunity to play for the team he followed growing up was a chance he couldn’t turn down.
Last season, Baker played out west for the Yellowstone Quake of the Northern Pacific Hockey League and then started this season with the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League before coming to the Jets, the team that selected him in June’s NA3HL draft.
“I feel lucky to be able to play for the Jets,” said the 20-year-old defenseman. “Junior hockey is a great experience and what better place to play than in your hometown. I think the team has really turned its name around since (Jason) Cirone has been coaching. I remember seeing the Jets grow up winning nationals (in 2002) and see them go through some ups and downs. I'm glad I'm playing here and I feel like this year is the year to restore the team and have a nice winning season and make a big playoff run.
“There's no doubt in my mind that our team can't compete with every team in our league. I feel like we have played well, but nobody has seen us play our best yet. I feel like the second half is going to be really exciting to see how talented the team can be and how dangerous we can be if we’re all going.”
On and off the ice, Baker said it’s been fun to re-connect with players he played with or against in high school and has been “the time of my life.”
“Our team chemistry is different than any other team I've ever been on,” Baker said. “I think it helps us a lot playing with local guys. I've played with a majority of the team growing up and honestly our team chemistry is unreal. Playing with guys like (Chris) Hellebuyck, who I played high school hockey with, I feel like we just connect. Playing a year of juniors last season with (Will) Shier, (Branden) Morganroth and (Mike) MacKinnon (with Yellowstone) has made us more than just teammates. We’re all pretty much best friends on the team and there's nobody we don't not get along with. We can all have fun and joke around.”
As for his role with Metro, Baker plays the vast majority back on the blue line, but can play forward if need be.
“I try my best to do whatever I can to keep us in a game and battle in the corners and get under the other team’s skin,” explained Baker. “I think as a defenseman, I am our most offensive defenseman of the group and can contribute, but it’s all coach’s call if he wants me to play a few shifts on forward and bring some energy with a couple big hits; I like to do that, too.”
Baker isn’t sure if this will be his last season of competitive hockey, but if it is, he’ll have no hard feelings and will also have his hockey apparel company to fall back on.
When looking ahead, Baker is as realistic as he can be.
“If I can play more hockey next year, I will for sure be playing, but if not, then I'm just planning on working,” Baker said. “I’m hoping the rest of the season goes well and I keep progressing. I still think we can play better and I think I can still improve even though it’s my last year. I'm not going to have any regrets at the end of this year and with the amount of 91s and 92s, I know we can make it far this season with the talent and heart our team has.”
Forward Matt Stemkoski saw time on defense against Flint and fared well.
“Stemmer is a very versatile player for us,” said Cirone. “He played defense the first period, then forward the second and back on D in the third. There were no complaints from him and that shows the type of leader he is. He just wants to do what it takes to help this team win.”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Goaltender Colin Greeley was in net for four of the Jets’ seven wins in 2008-09 and for the past two seasons, the 19-year-old Howell native has played for Leamington.
Greeley was drafted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit in 2008.
Thus far this season for the Flyers, Greeley is 10-5-1-0 with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
No matter, the Jets scored the next four to tie the game at 6-all.
After the five-minute overtime didn't solve anything, the game went to a shootout where Flint escaped with a 7-6 win at Iceland Arena.
"Flint is a good hockey team and I believe we're a good hockey team," said Jets coach Jason Cirone. "We usually have a cleaner game against them, but sooner or later, you have defensive breakdowns and both teams have a lot of guys that can score goals. That's what tonight was - a lot of breakdowns and a lot of goals."
Mike MacKinnon and Josh Beleski staked the Jets to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Cody Damon answered with two of his own to send the game into the first intermission tied at 2-2.
In the second, Hayden Hanson, Anthony Terzo, Luke Dmytro and James Odom made it 6-2 Flint.
Metro starting goalie Dillon Kelley was pulled after Terzo's goal for Devin Williams, but went back in after Dmytro's goal.
Cameron Bazin made it 6-3 at 19:34 and then as time expired, Chris Hellebuyck scored to bring the Jets to within a pair.
"I thought overall that Cam was our catalyst and he's the one that really got it started by scoring the goal and drawing a penalty at the same time," said Cirone. "With him making that play happen and then with our power play stepping up at the end of the period, I thought our kids did a great job responding."
Beleski and Matt Stirling scored the only goals in the third period, making it a 6-6 game.
Flint came close to winning the game late in the third and in the overtime as co-captain Warren Carter hit the crossbar twice behind Kelley.
In the shootout, Flint goalie Ben Myers stopped Steve Klisz, Doug Andrews and MacKinnon. Hellebuyck was the only player to score.
Jr. Generals co-captain Andrew Lay, Richard Jansson and Carter solved Kelley, whose only save came on Eddie Osowski's attempt.
Kelley finished with 34 saves, while Williams had three.
Myers earned the win with a 26-save outing.
The Jets (15-11-0-1) now break for the holidays and return to action on Jan. 7 at Lakeland Arena against Flint. Metro finishes the first half of the season with as many wins as it had all of last season and in third place in the NA3HL's East Division, 10 points behind second-place Flint.
"I'm actually welcoming the break," said Cirone. "We have a lot of first-year juniors that are finding out that junior hockey is a grind and I think this is going to be refreshing to them. I think it'll give them time to reflect and get a little bit of rest and get ready for the second half."
Friday, December 16, 2011
Doug Andrews and Zach Mohr scored in the second period for Metro, who saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
In net, Devin Williams finished with 32 saves.
The Jets (15-11-0-0) finish out the 2011 portion of the schedule Sunday afternoon in Flint. Game time is set for 2:20 p.m.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
All but two players recorded at least a point for the Jets, who with their 15th win equalled their win total from all of last season and are nearing the combined win total of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons (17).
Justin Shureb (two goals, two assists), Steve Klisz (two goals, two assists) and Mike MacKinnon (goal, three assists) had four-point games, while Cameron Bazin (three assists), Travis Hargett (two goals, assist) and Zach Mohr (goal, two assists) recorded three points apiece.
In goal, Devin Williams finished with 28 saves and also drew an assist on Klisz's first goal.
Jordan Jones, Chris Hellebuyck and Matt Stemkoski added a goal apiece in the win. For Hellebuyck, it was his seventh goal over his last six games.
Jets captain Tommy Kilgore chipped in two assists.
"This was a coming out party for the whole team," said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. "I told the guys that one line can't win a hockey game and all four lines are getting the job done right now. Our six defensemen are playing well and we're getting good goaltending."
Metro (15-10-0-0) plays in Toledo on Friday and then in Flint next Sunday before breaking for the holidays.
Next home game for the Jets is on Jan. 7 against Flint.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The Jets have now won two straight games and three of their last four.
John Baker (goal, assist) and Travis Hargett (two assists) each had two-point games for Metro, while Dillon Kelley stopped 25 shots for the win between the pipes.
Chris Hellebuyck scored his team-leading 17th goal to go with singles from Steve Klisz and Matt Stirling.
Newly-signed defenseman Trevor Hillman made his Jets debut and assisted on Bazin's first goal.
Metro (14-10-0-0) and Queen City finish up their series tomorrow at 11:50 a.m.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Either the Metro Jets defenseman from Georgetown, Tex., is physical against the opposing team or he plays a steady game that he doesn’t get noticed at all.
In other words, when Reid is on his game, he can be as good as any blueliner in the North American 3 Hockey League.
“Adam is starting to realize that when he’s physical, that’s when he’s at his best,” Jets head coach Jason Cirone said. “I think he played his best stretch of games this week (at the NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Darien, Ill.). He only played four games last year dealing with a concussion, so for him to get up to speed at this level is a slow progress, but he’s progressing and improving everyday.”
Reid skated for the Russell Stover Midget Major AAA team last season in Kansas City only to see his season derailed early on. Now getting another opportunity has made Reid grateful for the time he has spent so far with the Jets.
“Before this season, I didn't really know much about the NA3HL other than its existence and affiliation with the NAHL,” said Reid. “Looking back, I suppose it was a shot in the dark joining this league because I really didn't know what I was getting into. I just wanted to play hockey. But now, in retrospect, I am really happy I joined.”
This past summer, the 19-year-old Reid went to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons’ tryout camp at Hazel Park Ice Arena and while he thought he impressed enough to earn a spot with the NAHL team, it wasn’t meant to be.
“Since I was sidelined for essentially the entirety of last season, I didn't have exposure and was trying to make the most of some NAHL opportunities,” Reid said. “After the camp, (Port Huron coach) Bill Warren called me and said I didn't make their roster, but he had some positive feedback and mentioned Jason's name. A couple days later, I got a call from Jason asking me to play for him.”
“What I liked most about Adam at the Port Huron camp was that he wasn’t the biggest or the toughest on the ice, but he didn’t back down from anything,” added Cirone. “When Bill called and asked if I had room for him, I jumped at the chance.”
In Texas, where Reid lived from 1997-2010 after his father took a job with Dell Computers, he played for the Austin Roadrunners, a AA program.
“We would mostly travel to places like Dallas, Houston and Oklahoma City,” explained Reid. “My early hockey influences were guys like Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman. I remember watching them win the back-to-back Stanley Cups when I was just five or six.”
One of two Texas natives on the Metro roster this season (forward Tim Wlodkowski is the other), Reid said this season’s homecoming of sorts is “a very comfortable environment.”
”I didn’t know Timmy prior to this season,” said Reid. “He's from Katy, a suburb of the Houston area, which I am familiar with, but I was living north of Austin at the time. It does help having a fellow Texan on the team, but most of my extended family is up here.”
Aside from Texas, Reid and his family also lived in Singapore from 2005-08. No worries, though, Reid found a local rink. Lucky for him, he also had his skates with him.
“I played hockey there in a beer league with other expatriates,” said Reid.
In 20 games so far this year, Reid has two assists, but is hoping his stay-at-home game will get him noticed by NAHL teams.
“I think my strengths on the ice are my size and skating ability,” said Reid. “I am very confident in my skating, but I have learned that my mind is by far my biggest asset if I use it correctly. My biggest short-term goal is to dress in a game in the NAHL this season should the opportunity present itself. I also want to be someone that my teammates can trust both on and off the ice. My long-term goal is to just see what my limits are. I would love to play college hockey in some form, but ultimately, I want to see how far I can take this.
“If it isn't in the cards for me, then I want to be able to look back and know I did everything I could.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets played four games in as many days this week at the showcase in the Chicago suburbs, going 2-2 along the way.
Metro lost to the Quad City Jr. Flames, 8-4, on Sunday, topped the Peoria Mustangs, 2-1, on Monday, was edged by the Minnesota Flying Aces, 4-3, on Tuesday and then defeated the North Iowa Bulls, 4-3, in a shootout on Wednesday.
Chris Hellebuyck scored twice for the Jets, while captain Tommy Kilgore had a goal and an assist against Quad City. Steve Klisz notched the other goal for Metro.
“I think we had more chances than Quad City, but we couldn’t finish and they scored on their chances,” said Cirone. “We had 38 shots on goal, so offense isn’t our problem, never has been at all this season. I thought our defense maybe could have made better decisions with the puck and our goaltending could have been better.”
Dillon Kelley made 31 saves in goal for the Jets.
Zach Mohr scored both goals, including the game-winner with just over five minutes remaining in the third period, to pace the Metro attack against Peoria. Devin Williams picked up the win in goal making 24 saves.
“That was a good bounce-back win for us,” said Cirone. “I thought Devin played really well, too.”
Even in defeat against the Flying Aces, Cirone found a way to put a positive spin on the contest.
“I thought this game was the best of the four,” Cirone said. “Like in the Quad City game, we out-chanced them and outworked them, but we couldn’t finish. I think we had two breakaways and hit two posts. With a little luck and if our guys started to bear down a little bit, I think we win that game.”
John Baker, Mike MacKinnon and Matt Stemkoski tallied for the Jets. Williams posted another 24-win outing in goal.
Wrapping up the event, Hellebuyck scored three goals, including the deciding goal in Metro’s first shootout of the season.
Travis Hargett recorded the Jets’ other goal and Kelley finished with 33 saves. Kelley also stopped three of the four Bulls’ shooters in the shootout.
“Dillon Kelley won that game for us,” said Cirone. “We weren’t prepared at all and maybe that was with the fact we were playing our fourth game. We weren’t mentally ready and that carried over into the warmup.”
With five goals during the week, Hellebuyck now has a team-best 16 on the season.
“I don’t want to say that Chris stepped up because he’s played that way all season and is a guy I’ve come to rely on all season long,” said Cirone. “I think you can also put Doug Andrews in that category with the way he’s been. I don’t think these guys stepped up this week, but they for sure didn’t step down.”
The showcase gave Cirone a chance to meet with scouts and to renew acquaintances with people from the hockey world.
“We saw a lot of different faces this week,” Cirone said. “We also got to play teams we don’t play during the season. We get tired of playing Flint and Cleveland as much as we do, so seeing new teams was a plus for us this week.”
The Jets (13-10-0-0) host the Queen City Steam at Lakeland Arena this weekend. Game time is 7:40 p.m. Saturday night and 11:50 a.m. on Sunday.
“Queen City always plays hard,” said Cirone. “We’ll need to be ready.”
Connor Hellebuyck, younger brother of Chris Hellebuyck and one of the Jets’ tenders last offseason, is playing for the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes this season and recently committed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for next year.
Hellebuyck, 18, has distinguished himself as one of the NAHL’s best players this season, as he currently leads all NAHL goaltenders in save percentage (.939), ranks eleventh in goals-against average (2.29) and ranks third in saves (728), fourth in minutes played (1232:33) and is 8-9-4 in 21 starts.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Hellebuyck. “Just to sit and think of what’s being offered to you, the situation I’m in [with UMass-Lowell] is phenomenal.”
The Jets will have their other first-round pick from the 2011 NA3HL draft in the lineup this weekend as defenseman Trevor Hillman was signed Thursday.
Hillman, a 17-year-old from Beverly Hills, was taken third overall in June out of the Detroit Falcons 16U team, just one pick before forward Justin Shureb.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Jon Elliott, the second-leading scorer with the Jets during the 2009-10 season, is playing his second season with the Cumberland Grads of the Central Canada Hockey League.
The 20-year-old Elliott, an alternate captain with Cumberland, is fourth in team scoring with eight goals and 22 points in 35 games.
Elliott, a Birmingham native who played his high school hockey at Brother Rice, recorded 15 goals and 26 points while playing in all 48 games back in ’09-10.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Travis Hargett recorded the Jets’ other goal and Dillon Kelley finished with 33 saves in goal. Kelley also stopped three of the four Bulls’ shooters in the shootout.
The Jets (13-10-0-0) now have two days off before hosting the Queen City Steam at Lakeland Arena this weekend. Game time is 7:40 p.m. Saturday night and 11:50 a.m. on Sunday.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Chad Frost scored his first goal of the season for the Jets, while Mike MacKinnon and Matt Stemkoski tallied the other goals.
Tyler Pionk’s goal at 13:44 snapped a 3-3 tie for the Flying Aces and the Jets were unable to find the equalizer.
In goal, Devin Williams stopped 24 shots for Metro.
The Jets (12-10-0-0) conclude the Showcase with an 11 a.m. (CST) game Wednesday against the North Iowa Bulls.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Zach Mohr scored both goals, including the game-winner with just over five minutes remaining in the third period, to pace the Metro attack.
Devin Williams picked up the win in goal making 24 saves.
Next up for the Jets (12-9-0-0) is a Tuesday afternoon matchup with the Minnesota Flying Aces. Game time is 12:30 p.m. CST
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Chris Hellebuyck scored twice for the Jets, while captain Tommy Kilgore had a goal and an assist. Steve Klisz notched the other goal for Metro.
“I think we had more chances than Quad City, but we couldn’t finish and they scored on their chances,” said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. “We had 38 shots on goal, so offense isn’t our problem, never has been at all this season. Tonight, I thought our defense maybe could have made better decisions with the puck and our goaltending could have been better. There will be a couple lineup changes tomorrow, a few new faces in the lineup.”
Dillon Kelley made 31 saves in goal for the Jets.
Next up for the Jets (11-9-0-0) is a Monday morning matchup with the Peoria Mustangs. Game time is 9:30 a.m. CST
Friday, December 2, 2011
Wlodkowski does have a goal and three assists in 17 games thus far, but aside from that, statistics aren’t kept for the intangibles he brings to the table for the Metro Jets.
“He’s probably our most under-appreciated player,” said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. “He works hard and he does all the little things that help a team win. I don’t think he gets enough recognition for what he does, but I notice him and so does the rest of the team.”
Before his father’s job took the family down to Katy, Tex., Wlodkowski grew up in Michigan. His family still in the Lone Star State, he now lives in Riverview with his grandparents.
“I think it’s been a good season so far,” said the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Wlodkowski. “I think I keep improving each week and working harder. Before this season, I didn’t know a whole lot about the North American 3 Hockey League. I just knew that Jason was the coach of the Jets and that he was interested in having me play for him. It’s nice living with my grandparents, too, because I don’t really get to see them a lot, but now that I live there, I get to spend time with them.”
Wlodkowski, now 19, played high school hockey in Texas and initially got into hockey in Michigan watching his father play.
“My dad was my big influence growing up and his dedication to make me a better hockey player influenced me a lot,” said Wlodkowski.
Defenseman Adam Reid is also a Texas native with the Jets, a Georgetown native who grew up in Kalamazoo.
When told of Cirone’s “under-appreciated” comment, Wlodkowski felt a sense of humility.
“I feel as though that I keep improving each week and I just leave it all on the ice every game without complaining about anything because that’s just not the player I am,” he said. “And the shifts I do get, I make sure I give it all I got.”
In the model of hard work paying off, Wlodkowski said his short-term goal this season is to “get some time in the NAHL and be up there for good next season.”
After that, Wlodkowski is eyeing college hockey.
With a full roster, despite injuries to key players like Jake Schlacht and Zach Schlacht and Tim Perks nearing his season debut, Cirone said changes may be coming shortly to the Jets’ roster.
“I think what our problem is right now is that we have a lot of good hockey players that I’m trying to find a lot of ice time for,” Cirone said. “I think we’re going to have to make a couple moves in the next few weeks to move some bodies and get some guys some playing time elsewhere.”
Goalie Ethan Loo (Raleigh, N.C.) was released last weekend. He had not seen game action this year. Williams is expected to be in Waterford the rest of the season after dressing for several games recently as a backup for the Otters.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Jon Cooper, the head coach of the 2002 Jets’ Silver Cup Junior B national championship team, is currently in his second season as head coach of the Norfolk Admirals, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prior to joining the Admirals, Cooper led the United States Hockey League’s Green Bay Gamblers to a USHL championship in 2010 and the NAHL’s St. Louis Bandits to two straight NAHL titles in 2007 and 2008.
Cooper has also spent time behind the bench internationally, most recently serving as the assistant coach for the USA U-18 team that competed in the 2008 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. He won a silver medal as head coach of the USA U-17 team that participated in the 2007 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic and was named a finalist for the 2007 United States Olympic Committee’s Development Coach of the Year.
Cooper’s assistant coach in Norfolk, Mike Flanagan, was formerly coach and GM of the Grand Rapids Jr. Owls (now the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution) in the NA3HL (then known as the Central States Hockey League).