Sunday, August 11, 2013

Former Jets' captain Stirling joins former teammates at Oakland

WATERFORD, Mich. – Matt Stirling won’t be heading to Oakland University this fall on a blind whim.

Already an exceptional student at the Rochester, Mich.-based school, the former Metro Jets’ three-year captain will start his college hockey career for the Grizzlies, an ACHA Division I institution.

Stirling joins ex-Jets’ teammates Doug Andrews, who will also be a freshman on the ice, and sophomore forward Tommy Kilgore, another former Metro captain, and second-year defenseman John Baker.

“There weren’t too many other logical options for me after the season,” explained Stirling, a 21-year-old forward from Dexter, Mich. “I had a couple chances elsewhere, but none of those options were as logical as going to Oakland. Already being involved with the school during my last season at Metro, the transition was an easy one to make. “(OU coach) Gordie (Schaeffler) met with me during the showcase in Troy last season. We talked over my options and since I was already at the school for academics, it was an easy transition when he asked me to play hockey there as well.”

And getting to re-connect with former Metro teammates is what Stirling calls “one of the most exciting parts of this upcoming season.”

“Doug will be there and after playing with him for two years at Metro, it is exciting,” Stirling said. “The other guys like Baker and Kilgore are just more pieces to a quality team at Oakland. Knowing how these guys play makes the team better off and makes the transition from juniors to college easier.”

Over his three years with the Jets, Stirling skated in 139 games and averaged better than a point per game with 60 goals and 96 assists for 156 points. Last year, he finished fifth in North American 3 Hockey League scoring with 73 points on 22 goals and 51 assists and also served as the Jets’ captain after two years as an alternate.

Now heading to OU to become the prototypical student-athlete, Stirling has all his ducks in a row, so to speak.

“The classroom stuff is mostly decided,” said Stirling. “Being almost a junior at Oakland, I have chosen to major in business and more importantly, finance. The on-ice aspect will be interesting. I plan to be a versatile player for Gordie next season and will do anything he asks to help us win. My role on the team will develop later on, but I plan to give it 100 percent and show the team that I can do multiple things on the ice. My main goal for this next season is to win a championship.”

Ever the classy individual, Stirling acknowledged those people that guided him along his hockey path.

“There are many people I would like to thank for getting me to this point in my career,” Stirling said. “First, I would like to thank my parents. Without their support, I would not be where I am at today in not just my hockey career, but life in general. Secondly, I would like to thank (Metro head coach) Jason Cirone. He developed me as a player and a person from our first year all the way through the end of last season. Without him landing a spot at Metro three years ago, I would have no idea where I would be in my hockey career.

“Lastly, I would like to thank all the teammates from the past three seasons. I have learned a lot about them and in return, they have put me in situations that I have learned from and will take with me to the next level.”

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jets' veteran forward to continue career at Oakland

WATERFORD, Mich. – Doug Andrews has parlayed two strong seasons with the Metro Jets into an opportunity to play college hockey.

The 21-year-old Macomb native recently committed to play for the Oakland University ACHA Division I team and will join the Grizzlies with Matt Stirling, a teammate the past two seasons with the Jets.

“The opportunity to play for OU came up during the (NA3HL) showcase in Troy last year,” explained Andrews, who served as an alternate captain during the 2012-13 season. “Coach (Jason) Cirone told me (OU coach) Gordie Schaeffler was interested in me and he came out to watch some games. We were in contact after that, so I attended their summer camps to find out more about the team. Oakland just seemed to be a good fit for me. It is close to home and I can continue with my education, work, workouts and hockey. This combination will work out for me.”

Last season with Metro, Andrews finished second in team scoring with 21 goals and 33 assists for 54 points in 46 games. He also registered a plus-6 rating and was second on the team with five power-play goals and tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals. Andrews had a monster game on Feb. 10 at Quad City with a five-goal, three-assist performance and wound up being the NA3HL Third Star of the Week for his efforts.

During the 2011-12 campaign, Andrews struck for 17 goals and 50 points while playing in all 48 regular-season games.

Along with Stirling, Andrews will be reunited at OU with ex-Jets’ teammates John Baker and Tommy Kilgore, both of whom skated in Waterford during Andrews’ rookie season.

“I am extremely happy about the opportunity to play with some of my former teammates again,” Andrews said. “It'll be fun to reunite with them on the ice. We all have similar goals and all want to win. I just can’t wait to get back on the ice.”

Andrews said he has goals and expectations for his first season at Oakland and they lean heavily on improving and rounding out his game, while finding his niche in the classroom.

“Next season, I really want to prove myself to be one of the best players on the team,” said Andrews. “I fully expect to produce every game. I will give 100 percent effort and be ready to play in every situation Coach Schaeffler puts me in. I've really been focused on working out this summer with Joe Neal and Matt Hendricks at 2SP. We've concentrated our efforts on strength-training. I feel confident that my game will improve because of this commitment. I am determined to keep pushing myself.

“As for my education, I will continue taking classes and pursue a degree in business. This will provide opportunities for my future. Education is one of my No. 1 priorities now.”

When players earn the chance to advance their careers, most times they take a step back and focus on who and what helped push them to this point in their careers.

Andrews is no different.

“Several people have influenced my hockey career,” Andrews said. “Most recently has been Andy Oleksy and Fred Costello (with the Troy Sting) who were extremely instrumental in getting me to play for Metro. These coaches played a valuable role in getting me where I am today. Also, I am thankful to (Jets’ GM) Butch (Wolfe) for giving me the opportunity to play for the Metro Jets. Most significantly, I appreciate Jason for putting me in situations to succeed. He taught so many little things that really helped me be the player that I am. He knows so much about the game through his past experiences that whenever he has something to say, you definitely listen and take it in.

“Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for their support throughout all these years. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”