Monday, June 17, 2013

Former Jets' forward Monfils commits to ACHA D-I Niagara

WATERFORD, Mich. – Jeff Monfils only played with the Metro Jets for the first half of the 2012-13 North American 3 Hockey League season, but grabbed enough attention from college hockey scouts during that time and with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks that he’s off to play for Niagara University’s ACHA Division I team this fall.

Monfils, a 20-year forward from Washington, came to the Jets in a trade with Cleveland last August before going back to the Jr. Lumberjacks this past January in a deal for forward Brad Hepler.

With the Jets, Monfils tallied nine goals and 24 points in 27 games before adding another nine points in 16 games in Cleveland.

In committing to Niagara, located in the Buffalo, N.Y., suburb of Lewiston, Monfils is doing what both the Metro and Cleveland organizations stress to their players – play well enough and perform well in the classroom and opportunities will present themselves.

“My first season with Cleveland in 2011-12, NU had contacted me and I became very interested in the school and the hockey program,” said Monfils. “This past season was huge for me because I still was unsure of where I was going to be attending college. It was my No. 1 priority this past season to get a college opportunity."

Monfils said that his 27-game stint in his home state helped push his game to a new level and he has Metro coach Jason Cirone to thank.

“Jason did a lot for my development,” Monfils explained. “He taught me that every time I step on the ice, I'm working for a college scholarship. He said that every time you step on the ice there is $80,000 on the line, referring to how much college is for four years.”

Now that he’s off to Niagara to play for the Purple Eagles, Monfils has done his research to see what he’s getting into and could not be more excited.

”Niagara is a very great business school and its education, business, hospitality and science departments are among national leaders," said Monfils. "The hockey program is pretty big there, too (with an NCAA Division I program that was nationally-ranked last season). They have a multimillion-dollar ice rink that is located on campus which is nice and they have a rigorous off-ice program.

“I think the part of my game that is college-ready is my work ethic. I’ve had to work for everything – nothing was ever handed to me. I never quit. I’m not afraid to muck it up in the corners as well as rip a shot from anywhere on the ice. I like to shoot, as well as finding the open man. I love passing and making plays. I also feel that my play in the faceoff circle is college-ready with winning draws. The parts that need to be improved are my speed and I have to work on hitting the net. I tend to go high and hard a little too much. I am going to improve this by working on running and speed and agility, working hard on my legs and exploding from a standstill position. I have been working on hitting the net a lot more by just shooting down in my basement.”

And in advancing up the hockey ladder, Monfils shows a humble side with a long list of people to thank.

“I would thank first my dad and mom because without them, I wouldn't be where I’m at today,” said Monfils. “They taught me that nothing is handed to you in life and you have to work for what you want. Also, I would like to thank my high school coach, Dave Koons. I played under him for three years at Dakota High School and he really taught me a lot of things about the game. He was one of the best coaches I have had and he takes a huge part in getting me to where I am at today. I would also like to thank Jason as well as the Cleveland coaching staff, Bob Jacobson and Jason Dickey. They helped develop me at the junior level and what it takes to play day in and day out.”

At Niagara, Monfils’ outlook is simple.

“I expect nothing less than a national championship next year at Niagara,” said Monfils. “I believe we will have the talent to make the goal possible.”

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