Thursday, January 31, 2013

Captain's Corner - Swept at home, playoffs, '13-14 season

Each week during the 2012-13 season, Metro Jets’ captain Matt Stirling will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League grind.

-- On losing to Cleveland and Toledo at home last weekend.

Both were tough ways to lose games. The Cleveland game we should have won and really threw it away. The Toledo game was a lack of energy and we never seemed to be able to get it together. Although we played well, we were unable get the points we needed.

-- On his expectations for the Jets making the playoffs.

We know it will be a tough go from here and really it is to the point where we need wins to make the playoffs. The effort was there last weekend in the first game, but the points need to come with it.

-- On what needs to happen over the last six weeks of the season.

As a team, we go through some basics and then strategies to prepare for the teams we will be playing. The team knows what to do; it is just about putting the systems into action and getting the points to start moving in the standings.

-- On looking at his options for next season.

I have not really looked at any options so far for next season. I don’t know where I will be, but I will be playing hockey for someone.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Toledo's balanced offense beats Jets on Sunday

WATERFORD, MI - The Toledo Cherokee used five different goal-scorers to defeat the Metro Jets 5-2 Sunday afternoon at Lakeland Arena.

Andrew Palushaj and Kyle Shreve scored in a 2:30 span in the middle of the second period, but that was all the offense the Jets could muster.

In goal, Riley Corbin finished with 27 saves.

Tyler Zalecki had a goal and two assists for Toledo.

The Jets (12-19-2-0) next play in Flint against the Jr. Generals on Thursday night. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Iceland Arena. Metro then plays a pair Friday and Saturday at the Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser against the Michigan Mountain Cats.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cleveland scores in final second, then in OT, to sink Jets Saturday

WATERFORD, MI - Waterford native Scott Cuthrell did the Metro Jets in on Saturday night, scoring the game-tying goal in the final second of the third period and then the overtime winner as the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks defeated the Jets 6-5 at Lakeland Arena.

Brad Hepler, a former Jr. Lumberjack who came over to the Jets in a trade for forward Jeff Monfils two weeks ago, scored two goals for the Jets and Metro captain Matt Stirling drew four assists.

Monfils was held without a point in his first game against his old teammates.

Doug Andrews and Kyle Shreve each contributed a goal and an assist for the Jets (12-18-2-0), while Josh Hosking netted the other goal.

Jets' goaltender Austin Julvezan made 40 saves between the pipes.

Metro hosts the Toledo Cherokee Sunday afternoon at 2:50 p.m. and after that, the Jets don't play at Lakeland again until March 2, also against Toledo.

Friday, January 25, 2013

From Las Vegas to Waterford, Evans cashing in with Jets

WATERFORD, MI – 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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Captain's Corner - Mountain Cats, mindset, team consistency

Each week during the 2012-13 season, Metro Jets’ captain Matt Stirling will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League grind.

-- On getting swept at home last weekend by Michigan.

It was a tough pill to swallow losing to Michigan twice last weekend. I thought we played well, but it obviously wasn’t enough to win the games. I thought we played well in the first game and really should have won that game, but their goalie (Spencer Craig) was on top of his game.

-- On his expectations this weekend at home against Cleveland and Toledo.

We just go back to work this week and try to figure out a way to get the wins this weekend. The points are necessary for us to make the playoffs and we’ll do everything possible to get the four points.

-- On his mindset at this point of the season as captain.

The mindset here is that as we enter the final third of the season, we need to get on a roll to make the playoffs. The last few weeks have not been very good and we need to find a way to get back into the win column. We need to start with one win and build from there. With wins in the next couple of weekends, we then can evaluate where we are in the standings and go from there.

-- On consistency within the team.

The most consistent part of the team this season is the development of some of the younger guys. The way some of the rookies play now compared to the beginning of the season is much improved and that can only help us down the road. Guys like Myles Burrough, Thomas Evans, Brad Hepler, Zack MacKay and Brian Ziola have made great strides in their play that has helped the team down the road here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hepler scores lone goal as Jets swept by Mountain Cats

WATERFORD, MI - The Michigan Mountain Cats swept the Metro Jets in their weekend series with a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon at Lakeland Arena.

Brad Hepler (pictured) scored Metro's lone goal at 13:48 of the third period and Riley Corbin stopped 23 of 27 shots in goal before being lifted for Austin Julvezan 9:50 into the third after Michigan's fourth goal. Julvezan stopped the only shot he faced.

Mountain Cats' goalie Spencer Craig made 21 saves for his second straight win over the Jets.

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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Craig's 44 saves, Morrison's hat trick lift Cats over Jets

WATERFORD, MI - Spencer Craig made 44 saves to lead the Michigan Mountain Cats past the Metro Jets 3-1 Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

Kade Morrison scored all three goals for the Mountain Cats and Austin Sartorius picked up a pair of assists.

Metro forward Doug Andrews (pictured) broke up Craig's shutout bid at 19:26 of the third period.

Riley Corbin made 33 saves in the Metro net.

The two teams complete their weekend series Sunday afternoon at 2:50 p.m.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jets' rookie D'Angelo working to find his game, overcome slump

WATERFORD, MI – 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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Captain's Corner - Battle Creek, Monfils and Frost trades

Each week during the 2012-13 season, Metro Jets’ captain Matt Stirling will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League grind.

-- On last weekend's shootout win in Battle Creek.

Yeah, it was good feeling to get back in to the win column. Even though it was in a shootout, the points were what mattered in the end. Battle Creek is an improved team that we knew would give us a game coming in and they did just that. Either way, it was great to win again.

-- On new defenseman Brad Hepler, acquired from Cleveland for forward Jeff Monfils.

Hepler looked good on defense. He is a big body that can help any team out and played well for us in the game against Battle Creek.

-- On the trades of Monfils to Cleveland and defenseman Chad Frost to Quad City.

It was tough to see Jeff go. He was a good buddy of mine from this year, but sometimes things have to change if you’re not winning. I wish him the best of luck as he joins Cleveland for his second stint. Frost was another good player that I was also close with on the team. I wish him the best of luck as he is going to play with our old teammate Aksel Campbell.

-- On new goalie Riley Corbin, playing for the Jets on loan from the OHL's Plymouth Whalers.

Corbin played well for us in the game against Battle Creek. He stopped all four shooters in the shootout and helped get us the win. It was his first game with us and I only expect him to get better from here.

-- On this weekend's home series with the Michigan Mountain Cats.

Michigan is a team that has given us some trouble in the past. We need the four points this weekend and anything shy of that won’t work for us. We need all the points we can get as we are 10 points out of fourth place in our division.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Andrews scores late, Jets top Battle Creek in a shootout

BATTLE CREEK, MI - Doug Andrews' power-play goal at 13:38 of the third period tied the game at 4-4 and the Metro Jets went on to defeat the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution 5-4 in a shootout Saturday night at Revolution Arena.

Kyle Shreve scored twice for the Jets and Andrew Palushaj added a goal as well.

New goaltender Riley Corbin, on loan from the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers, made 24 saves in regulation and overtime and then stopped all four shooters in the shootout.

Battle Creek goaltender Matt Hughes stopped 46 shots.

The Jets (12-16-1-0) are idle until next weekend when they return home to Lakeland Arena for a two-game set with the Michigan Mountain Cats.

TRANSACTION: Earlier Saturday, the Jets dealt forward Jeff Monfils back to the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks for 18-year-old defenseman Brad Hepler, a Chelsea native. Monfils was acquired from Cleveland last summer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Young goaltender Nedeljkovic happy to help out in Jets' net

WATERFORD, MI – 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).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Three Rivers completes sweep of Jets Sunday afternoon

PITTSBURGH - The Three Rivers Vengeance completed a weekend sweep of the visiting Metro Jets with a 6-4 win Sunday afternoon at Blade Runners USA.

Andrew Palushaj and Metro captain Matt Stirling each had a goal and two assists, while goaltender Austin Julvezan finished with 38 saves.

Travis Hargett and Brian Ziola also scored for the Jets.

For the Vengeance, Nico Vecchio had three goals and an assist and Tom Diffendal added a goal and three assists.

The Jets (11-16-1-0) stay on the road next weekend with a single game on Saturday (Jan. 12) against the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jets downed in Pittsburgh Saturday night

PITTSBURGH - The Three Rivers Vengeance scored three goals in a three-minute span in the first period and held on to beat the Metro Jets 4-1 Saturday night at Blade Runners USA.

Newly-signed forward Anthony Saleh scored the Jets' lone goal on a pwer play 12:43 into the third period.

Austin Julvezan made 27 saves in 50:23 of work after starter Trevor Kalinowski allowed the first three Vengeance goals (on their first three shots) in the first 7:56 of the game.

The two teams wrap up their two-game set Sunday afternoon at noon.