Showing posts with label playoffs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label playoffs. Show all posts

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jets reflect on positive experiences during 2013-14 season

WATERFORD, Mich. – If one were to ask anyone associated with the Metro Jets back in January if the North American 3 Hockey League playoffs were a possibility, there would have been reluctance, but the answer would have been a resounding ‘yes.’”

As the days went on and games were played, the standings watch started – it appeared the final two games of the regular season for the Jets against the Toledo Cherokee would ultimately decide the team’s playoff hopes.

And with two wins in those games, the Jets, who finished 22-24-2, were in.

The first game in Toledo, Jets’ coach Justin Quenneville pulled goaltender Kam Limburg late and with the game tied (yes, the same move Gordon Bombay pulls in the first “Mighty Ducks” movie) and Brad Hepler scored to win it for the Jets.

In the days leading up to the Toledo contests, again, ask anyone with the team their thoughts on the playoffs and there was no reluctance at all to answer affirmatively.

“Really since Christmas, we were playing playoff hockey,” said Jets’ coach Justin Quenneville, who took over in early October for Jason Cirone, who stepped down to start up the Midland University ACHA Division I college programs in Fremont, Neb. “The guys all bought in and came to the rink everyday to work. I'm proud of the way they responded and they deserved all the opportunities despite the season's distractions, call-ups and adversity.”

It’s been said that adversity breeds character and the Jets had enough of that this season as tragically, both Zack MacKay and Connor McLean lost their fathers during the season.

“We went through many positives this season with a couple being winning a few games many thought we wouldn't,” Limburg said. “But really the biggest thing was making the playoffs. We were able to come together and perform down the stretch and steal some games for crucial points.

”Our team was one of the closest I have ever been a part of. Even from the first weekend together, we all seemed to get along great. And with the loss of family members a couple of my teammates suffered, we all tried to support them as much as we could and came together for them.”

Couple that in with the fact that the Jets had one of the NA3HL’s youngest teams and that their better players advanced to higher levels (not a bad situation by any means, however) and one might see how much of a successful season this actually ended up being for the Jets.

Forwards Kevin Shand (Springfield/NAHL, Cedar Rapids/USHL) and Lucas Linville (Port Huron/NAHL) spent a short time with the Jets, but it only helped to get their confidence ramped up for the upper echelons of junior hockey. Limburg and fellow goalie Trevor Kalinowski had a cup of coffee in the NAHL (Limburg with Springfield, Kalinowski with Port Huron) and defenseman Carter Reid practiced with Springfield for a stretch.

Forward Kyle Shreve, who ended the 2012-13 season with the Jets, began this year with Springfield, along with defenseman James Roznowski, one of Metro’s first-round picks in last year’s draft, but both wound up playing in Waterford.

Roll everything into a ball and MacKay said he wouldn’t trade his time with the Jets for the world.

“The past two years have been a huge learning experience for me and I feel like my game has improved a ton,” said MacKay. “Being captain has given me more responsibility and I felt it made me more mature. The group of guys this season was the best and I love each and every one of them. We were close as a team, more so than I've been with any other team. I built a bond with some of the guys and I know we'll be friends until we’re old.

“My time with the Jets was huge. I went through a lot this season and it showed me that I could overcome whatever was thrown at me.”

MacKay took over as captain when Josh Beleski left to enlist in the Navy in early February.

And MacKay had a knack for drama, too.

Just days after the death of his father, Ron, MacKay decided to play against Cincinnati in the Jets’ home opener. The game was tied in the waning moments of the third period until yep, you guessed it, MacKay scored the game-winner and pointed skyward and then to his mother in the stands at Lakeland Arena in a very touching moment.

McLean scored some emotional goals at the NA3HL Showcase in suburban Chicago back in December after learning of his father Don's death.

So yes, adversity – the Jets’ were the epitome of it this year.

In goal, Limburg seemed to take over between the pipes and played both games in the playoffs against the Flint Jr. Generals – two tight games that didn’t go Metro’s way.

“I will take a lot from this season – the long bus rides, my stint in the NAHL, the early-morning practices, but the thing that I will remember most from this season is the last game of the regular season,” Limburg said. “We clinched the final playoff spot with that game and it was my first shutout of the year. The locker room after the game was electric and everyone was elated.”

Hepler led the team in scoring with 36 points and second-year veteran Alex Holm was the top goal-scorer with 16. Both Hepler and Holm are eligible to return next season, though Quenneville is certain each will get opportunities in the NAHL.

“I believe in building a successful model that finds balance in developing and winning,” said Quenneville. “None of this would be possible without a coaching staff and owner willing to provide that platform. We have that here with Metro. Given the success we had this season moving players, several of our guys will be looked at closely this offseason at NAHL camps. They deserve those looks and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few guys made it. This organization has been around 25 years and has moved on a great deal of players. I see that happening again this summer. With that said, the eligible returners have expressed interest in coming back, which allows us to build off this past year’s success. As a staff, we’ll address our biggest needs at the draft (Tuesday, June 11) and look at some free agents and get our tenders on board.

“I’d like to think this season was one that saw the guys leave everything they had on the ice and that’s how it should be. I’m proud of the way we came together and of the way they never quit. This will help us build for the future.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Captain's Corner - putting the '13-14 season into perspective

Each week for the 2013-14 season, Metro Jets’ captain Zack MacKay will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League season, the 25th for the Jets as a junior franchise. 

-- On the playoff series last weekend against Flint.

The Flint games were probably the best hockey we've played this season. Both games were close until the end. I couldn't have asked more from the guys.

-- On his emotions after the Game 2 loss.

After the game, I just tried to hold composure. Knowing my junior hockey career was over was tough, but at the same time, I was excited to move forward. I'll miss that group of guys a lot, though. My time with the Jets was huge. I went through a lot this season and it showed me that I could overcome whatever was thrown at me. The past two years have been a huge learning experience with me and I feel like my game has improved a ton. Being captain gave me more responsibility and I felt it made me more mature.

-- On what he'll remember most about this season.

The group of guys this season was the best. I love each and every one of them. We were close as a team, more so than I've been with any other team. I built a bond with some guys and I know we'll be friends until we’re old.
 
-- On his plans for the 2014-15 season.

I've been talking to a couple NCAA D-III schools and keeping some other options in mind. I definitely want to continue playing in college.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jets eliminated with 4-1 loss to Flint Saturday afternoon

WATERFORD, Mich. - The Flint Jr. Generals defeated the Metro Jets 4-1 Saturday afternoon at Lakeland Arena, winning their NA3HL playoff series in two straight games.

Brad Hepler scored the lone Jets' goal and goaltender Kam Limburg made 25 saves in suffering the defeat.

Flint had four different goal-scorers and went 2-for-4 on the power play, while Anders Franke finished with 17 saves in goal.

Next up for the Jets is the annual NA3HL draft on Tuesday, June 10.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jr. Generals edge Jets in Game 1 Thursday night in Flint

FLINT, Mich. - The Metro Jets stayed with the Flint Jr. Generals for 60 minutes Thursday night, but ultimately fell to Flint 4-3 in Game 1 of their NA3HL first-round playoff matchup at Iceland Arenas.

Jets' captain Zack MacKay scored twice and Adam Lockner added the other goal for Metro.

Alex Holm and Kyle Shreve each had two assists and Kam Limburg made 27 saves in goal.

Flint's Josh Koepplinger netted the game-winner 6:19 into the third period after MacKay and Lockner had tied the game earlier in the period.

The two teams meet in Game 2 of the best-of-three series Saturday at 3 p.m. at Lakeland Arena.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jets draw Flint to open NA3HL playoffs Thursday night


WATERFORD, Mich. – The North American 3 Hockey League playoffs begin this week for the Metro Jets, but there was a time just a few short weeks ago that playing in the post-season seemed like a pipe dream.

Battling the Toledo Cherokee for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division, the Jets had to sit and watch two weekends ago as the Cherokee lost three straight to Cleveland and Flint, setting up a two-game showdown last weekend.

With wins both nights, the Jets advance to play Flint, one of the top teams in all of the NA3HL, in the first round of the playoffs.

Friday night in Toledo, the two teams were tied late in the third period. With a loss or a tie, the Jets would have been eliminated.

Metro coach Justin Quenneville elected to pull goaltender Kam Limburg in the final minute and the move paid off as Brad Hepler scored to lift the Jets to a 3-2 win.

“It’s been our mentality here from Christmas on that this isn’t a regular season for us down the stretch – these are our playoffs,” Quenneville said. “We have had to play playoff hockey, so everyday we took that approach coming to the rink and how we prepared and it kept building as the season went on and realistically, took the same approach each day about how this was do or die for us each game. The players all bought in and I’m proud of them. They deserve this.”

Then Saturday night at Lakeland Arena, the Jets (22-24-2) were on a mission and dominated Toledo in a 5-0 win that officially clinched the final playoff berth.

Both Metro and Toledo finished the season with 46 points, but the Jets held the tiebreaker with more wins (22) than Toledo (20).

Limburg earned the win Saturday night with 16 saves for the shutout and looks to start Game 1 versus Flint.

“Yeah, not a bad time to get his first shutout of the season,” quipped Quenneville. “My policy all season has been if you win, you’re in. It’s made us more competitive in that area of our depth chart, so Kam deserves that opportunity and you talk about the right time for the first shutout of the year in the most important game, so I’m proud of him, but obviously, we need him to keep playing the same way and bring us the same effort.”

The first round against Flint is a best-of-three series starting Thursday night in Flint at Iceland Arenas (pictured) at 8 p.m., continuing Saturday afternoon at Lakeland at 3 p.m. and, if necessary, Sunday afternoon in Flint at 2 p.m.

Jets’ captain Zack MacKay said his team has confidence going into Flint.

“We’re ready for Flint – we’ve been playing playoff hockey the past six games or so,” MacKay said. “We’re going to be prepared. We’ve had good games there (Iceland) and the last game there, it was 1-1 until the third period and we’ve played some close games there.”

Flint, which won the East outright and posted a 42-4-2 record (second in all of the NA3HL to North Iowa), won all eight meetings this season against the Jets.

"Everyone starts at zeroes in the playoffs," Quenneville said. "We're excited about the opportunity to play them. We know it is going to be difficult, but that's how it should be. We are no longer playing for points or standings, just wins, plain and simple.

“Flint is a skilled and experienced team. They are well-coached and have had a lot of success during the season for a reason. We are excited about the matchup, but the key for us will be to stay focused and disciplined more than anything.”

All playoff games will be on www.fasthockey.com

Monday, March 10, 2014

Captain's Corner - Toledo, NA3HL playoffs, Kam Limburg

Each week for the rest of the 2013-14 season, Metro Jets’ captain Zack MacKay will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League season, the 25th for the Jets as a junior franchise. 

-- On what Saturday's win over Toledo to make the playoffs meant to him.

It meant a lot – could have meant the end to my junior career. Stuff like that really makes you motivated to play and everybody brought it. If we play like this against Flint, there’s no way we’re not going to win.

-- On vibes he had before and during the game.

I actually thought we had a really bad warmup, but (for the game), we brought it and that’s all that really matters. As long as we’re playing the game we’re supposed to, it doesn’t really matter how we warmed up.

-- On his thoughts after the Jets scored first and Kam Limburg's shutout.

I got a little worried, actually. We’re usually not too good with first-goal leads, but we brought it. Limburg has been playing great lately. I drove with him (Friday night) and (Saturday’s game) was nothing out of the ordinary for him. He usually brings it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Jets blank Toledo Saturday, clinch NA3HL playoff berth

WATERFORD, Mich. - The Metro Jets have been in playoff mode the better part of the last two weeks and it paid off Saturday night as the Jets clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division with a 5-0 shutout of the Toledo Cherokee at Lakeland Arena.

The Jets and Cherokee tied with 46 points, but Metro gains the playoff spot by virtue of more wins (22) than Toledo (20).

"Top to bottom, I feel like that was our best 60-minute effort of the year," said Jets' coach Justin Quenneville. "Like I tell the guys everyday, we have to look at this season as a progressive chart moving upward and not only did they work hard, but they bought in, kept it simple and were rewarded for their decisions."

Cooper McLean scored twice with an assist for the Jets, while Brad Hepler, Kyle Shreve and Cody Jones all tallied a goal and an assist in the win.

Jets' goaltender Kam Limburg stopped all 16 shots between the pipes.

"Not a bad time to get his first shutout of the season," quipped Quenneville.

Aaron Callan made 26 saves for the Cherokee.

The Jets (22-24-2) move on to play the Flint Jr. Generals in the first round of the playoffs. A schedule will be released early next week.

 "Everyone starts at zeroes in the playoffs," Quenneville said. "We're excited about the opportunity to play them - you want to play against the best and you want to beat the best."

Flint won all eight meetings this season against the Jets.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Jets beat Toledo in dramatic fashion, maintain hope for playoffs

TOLEDO, Ohio - Brad Hepler scored in the final with the goalie pulled and the score tied to lift the Metro Jets to a thrilling 3-2 win over the Toledo Cherokee Friday night at the Team Toledo Ice House.

The stakes get even bigger as the winner of Saturday night's regular-season finale at Lakeland Arena in Waterford between Metro and Toledo gets the final playoff berth in the East Division.

Cooper McLean scored in the first period and Cam Bruff tallied his first of the season in the second for the Jets, while Kam Limburg stopped 29 shots between the pipes.

Both teams have played 47 games and Toledo has 46 points to Metro's 44, but if the Jets win, they would get the tie-breaker based on more overall wins during the regular season. Toledo is 20-21-6 and the Jets are 21-24-2.

 Game time Saturday night is set for 7:50 p.m.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Captain's Corner - Toledo this weekend, NA3HL playoffs, pressure

Each week for the rest of the 2013-14 season, Metro Jets’ captain Zack MacKay will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League season, the 25th for the Jets as a junior franchise. 

-- On checking Toledo's three games last weekend and seeing the Cherokee lose all three.

Last weekend was very stressful, but we were all thankful the cards fell into place and allowed us a chance to really put everything out on the ice this weekend and make our playoff push.

-- On what the message has been this week around the team.

The message of the week was just that we all know what's at stake and we know what needs to be done. We can't let them (Toledo) even take us to overtime or else it's all over. If we can come out with a regulation win on Friday, there's no doubt we won't make playoffs.

-- On the pressure of this weekend.

These two games are huge and I don't think I've ever played games that had more at stake than Friday. My last season of my junior career is at the hands of two games, whether it continues or not is up to me and the rest of the Jets and I think it will.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dempsey enjoying rookie season with Jets, exposure from NA3HL

WATERFORD, Mich. – Matt Dempsey is the perfect example of what the North American Hockey League’s advancement model is all about.

Playing last season in the North American Prospects Hockey League for the Detroit Falcons, the Chesterfield, Mich., native joined the Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League this year and hopes to complete the trifecta next year in the NAHL.

For now, though, the 18-year-old forward is focused on fine-tuning his skill set with the Jets.

“Last year in the NAPHL, the thing that prepared me most for juniors was the pace and the physicality of that league,” Dempsey said. “I knew the NA3 was good. I had watched the games at some of the showcases and was impressed by the level of play.

“I feel that I have become faster overall this season and I’ve also become smarter and more patient with the puck. I’ve had opportunities this year to play on a line with good players (Josh Beleski and Alex Holm mostly) that I have learned a lot from.”

This season, Dempsey has potted six goals and 14 assists for 20 points in 45 games and praised the Metro coaching staff of head coach Justin Quenneville and assistants Tom Krajewski and Randy Wilson.

“The coaching staff has been great,” said Dempsey. “Overall, they have provided me a lot of direction and tweaked my game so that I continue to improve personally and so that we grow as a team.”

Going into this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Toledo Cherokee with the fourth and final East Division playoff spot on the line, Dempsey’s outlook is succinct.

”The team is very focused,” Dempsey said. “We all know what we need to do in order to get the big wins this weekend.”

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD 

After sitting idle last weekend, the Jets saw Toledo lose all three games (one to Cleveland, two to Flint) to set up the two-game showdown this weekend.

If the Jets win both games against Toledo in regulation time, they get fourth place in the NA3HL East and the last playoff berth by virtue of more victories than the Cherokee.

Game time is 7 p.m. Friday night in Toledo and then 7:50 p.m. Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

JET STREAKS 

Four players – defensemen Brad Hepler and Adam Lockner and forwards Holm and Kyle Downey – have played in all 46 games this season for the Jets.

Every Jets’ player has recorded at least one point this season, save for forward Cam Bruff, defenseman Anthony Catalina and goaltenders Kam Limburg and Davide Mantovani. Goalie Trevor Kalinowski has two assists this year.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Wylie Rogers, a goaltender on the Jets’ 2002 Silver Cup-winning Junior B national championship team, has hung up the skates and is now in his second season as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Rogers, a 28-year-old Fairbanks native, played four years at the school from 2004-08 before playing three years with the Central Hockey League’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and one year in the Netherlands.

In addition to the Jets, where he went 22-5-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage, Rogers also played junior hockey with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (then with the America West Hockey League), Victoria Salsa of the British Columbia Hockey League and seven games with the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Second-year Jets' defenseman Krajewski improving overall game

WATERFORD, Mich. – T.J. Krajewski is literally immersed in hockey 24/7.

A second-year defenseman with the Metro Jets, Krajewski works each day to progress his game and make strides, all while taking instruction from the Jets’ coaching staff.

One of the Jets’ assistant coaches is Krajewski’s father, Tom, a longtime youth hockey coach in Michigan.

According to the younger Krajewski, playing for his dad has never been a problem and in fact, is quite a privilege.

“It has been fairly easy,” said the 19-year-old from Macomb, Mich. “He doesn't really say much to me on the bench, but when he does, it's usually helpful and he explains what I could have done. He is just ‘Coach’ to me all the time – I rarely call him dad. When the boys come over, he is still just Coach. He is friends with everyone on the team and everybody loves him.”

Last year as a rookie with the Jets, Krajewski tallied two goals and 11 points in 35 games and this year, has recorded four goals and 12 points over 39 games.

Last offseason, Krajewski attempted to crack a North American Hockey League lineup, but when that fell through, it was a win-win situation to come back and skate in Waterford.

“I feel like I have gotten a lot faster in the last two seasons and have been able to make decisions faster on the ice,” Krajewski said. “Coach Q (Jets’ head coach Justin Quenneville) has his own gym (Michigan Athletic Training in Fraser) that me and fellow teammates Davide Mantovani and Carter Reid work out at three times a week. (Quenneville) has helped me out with my first three steps, which are now more explosive. Q is also a great coach that wants to see everyone move up to the NAHL. He really has helped me with my defensive and offensive abilities.”

Krajewski also talked of the numerous opportunities to get noticed by playing in the NA3HL.

“There are always some scouts at our games every time we play,” explained Krajewski. “When we went to the showcase in Chicago (last November), there were scouts everywhere and even though we struggled in the showcase a bit, there were still scouts at our games and Q always tries to sell us to the scouts that come.”

Those scouts will also have a say where Krajewski plays for the 2014-15 season, but for now, the priorities lie in getting Metro into the post-season.

”My short-term goals as of right now are to make playoffs and play for the Silver Cup,” said Krajewski. “Long-term is to play college hockey and move on from there.”

JET STREAKS 

The Jets have won 10 games at Lakeland Arena and 10 games on the road this season.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Jack McCoy played with the Jets during the team’s early years and has worked his way up to be an on-ice official at the American Hockey League level.

McCoy, a Livonia, Mich., native who played NCAA Division III college hockey at Oswego State in the SUNYAC, has also worked as an on-ice official in the Ontario Hockey League, ECHL, International Hockey League and United Hockey League.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Captain's Corner - Pittsburgh shootout, time off, watching Toledo

Each week for the rest of the 2013-14 season, Metro Jets’ captain Zack MacKay will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League season, the 25th for the Jets as a junior franchise. 

-- On losing Saturday in Pittsburgh, then winning in a shootout Sunday.

The win was big and we needed it – the points, the confidence. Just a step closer to a playoff spot.

-- On having the upcoming weekend off.

Having a weekend off will be a much-needed break for the guys, especially those who played in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament – seven games in nine days took a lot out of us. Watching the scores of the Toledo games this weekend will be tough, but we'll all be hoping for the best to help our situation. We're all hoping the cards fall into place for all situations out of our hands.

-- On practice this week.

Practice will be good and it should have us more than ready for our last games against Toledo. The rest is up to us – nobody's going to hand it to us.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Metro keeps playoff hopes alive, beats Pittsburgh in shootout

PITTSBURGH - Sunday's game between the Metro Jets and Pittsburgh Vengeance couldn't be solved in 60 minutes of regulation or a five-minute overtime.

Dramatically, the Jets came away with a 2-1 shootout win as goaltender Kam Limburg stopped all four Vengeance shooters in the shootout.

Cooper McLean scored the regulation goal for the Jets and Limburg stopped 27 shots in his 65 minutes of work.

Pittsburgh goalie Jason Kumpfmiller made 34 saves at the other end.

The Jets (20-24-2) are still battling the Toledo Cherokee for the fourth and final East Division playoff spot. Metro is idle next weekend, but Toledo plays three games - one against Cleveland and two against Flint.

After next weekend, the Jets and Cherokee will each have played 46 games before playing one another March 7-8 in a home-and-home series that could decide the final playoff berth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Metro rookie Baranoski playing season with heavy heart


WATERFORD, Mich. – You might say Travis Baranoski went on a roller coaster ride last summer without ever traveling to Cedar Point.

First, he graduated from East Grand Rapids High School after playing on the school’s varsity hockey team all four years.

Then he was drafted by the Metro Jets in the ninth round (152nd overall) of the North American 3 Hockey League draft.

Baranoski looked to have everything going for him – until the fateful morning of Aug. 18, the day he was supposed to be moving away from home to play for the Jets.

Keeland Johns, Baranoski’s best friend, was tragically killed by a drunk driver that morning, leaving a void in Baranoski’s life, but giving him motivation to get to Waterford and make an impact with the Jets.

“This season is dedicated to Keeland,” said a still-emotional Baranoski. “He was No. 25 in high school and I wear that number in honor of him.

”He came to East Grand Rapids when he was a freshman and we were always friends, but then our senior year, we became really close and we probably didn't go more than 2-3 days at a time without seeing each other last summer.”

Earlier this season, Keeland’s mother, Kriste Johns-Weber, took in a Jets’ game and put a smile on Baranoski’s face in the process (pictured above).

”My friends and I go over to their house a lot and talk to her as often as possible,” explained Baranoski. “And I know she goes to a lot of East hockey games. We just try and keep her social and make sure she knows she's not alone.”

With the Jets, Baranoski has tallied four goals and four assists in 43 games this season and the 18-year-old Walker, Mich., native attributes his development and adjustment to the NA3HL level to a number of different aspects.

“I think the area my game has improved the most is my speed,” Baranoski said. “I'm way faster than I was last year and I credit that to our gym memberships at Fitness 19. We've put in a lot of work there and it's showing in my game. The coaches have helped me a lot in my development. They've pointed out a lot of small habits that hurt me as a player that prior coaches had not and it has helped me become a smarter hockey player and has really simplified the game for me.”

During the spring of 2013, Baranoski was introduced to Metro assistant coach Randy Wilson by Todd Bell, a Grand Rapids-area youth hockey coach and Baranoski went down to Waterford for a handful of spring conditioning skates with the club and was subsequently drafted in June.

“I think playing at East Grand Rapids helped me out a lot in preparing for this season,” said Baranoski, who lives with extended family in Rochester, Mich. “I played all four years and that's where I really learned to focus on playing the defensive zone and focusing on the details. It really made me the player I am today.

“As for the NA3, I think it provides a lot more exposure than most people give it credit for. I've personally been talked to by a few schools and I know my teammates have been talked to by more. I've also watched a lot of my teammates get opportunities at higher level such as Kevin Shand (NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues, USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) and Lucas Linville (NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons), which is really cool to see.”

And on that note, Baranoski has his eye on moving up next season, but those opportunities will come.

Right now, his priorities are right where they should be.

”My short-term goals are to finish the season strong and do anything I can to help my teammates and the team overall to succeed,” said Baranoski. “Personally in the long term, my goal is to move up, but at this time I'm trying to focus on this team and this season.”

All while knowing that the name on the front of the jersey matters most, the number on the back is just as special.

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD 

Last weekend, the Jets were looking for four points to gain ground in their hunt for a playoff spot, but came up with only two points.

T.J. Krajewski's goal at 13:36 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and the Jets held on to defeat the Toledo Cherokee 2-1 Friday night at the Team Toledo Ice House.

Kyle Shreve also scored for Metro and captain Zack MacKay assisted on both goals.

Jets' goaltender Kam Limburg made 38 saves between the pipes.

Metro jumped out to a 3-0 advantage, but lost the lead and the game in a 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Cherokee at Lakeland Arena.

Dominic Antonelli's goal at 1:12 of the third period broke the 3-3 tie and put the Cherokee ahead to stay.

Alex Holm, James Roznowski and MacKay scored for the Jets, while Limburg stopped 23 shots between the pipes.

With the loss, the Jets are six points behind Toledo for the fourth and final playoff berth in the East Division. Metro has four games remaining, while Toledo has six.

“The mood is still loose and fun like it has been all year, but it sort of goes unsaid that there is a big, heightened sense of urgency,” said Baranoski. “We don't necessarily talk about it. We just understand what the task is and what it calls for us to do. We want to make the playoffs and we know we need to play urgently, but we also know we can't play nervous and up-tight, so we keep it loose as much as we can.”

The Jets (19-23-2) next travel to Pittsburgh for two with the Vengeance this weekend at Blade Runners USA. Game time is 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and then a noon start on Sunday.

“With the final road trip coming up, I'm hoping it helps bring everyone closer and really get everyone on the same page,” MacKay said. “A sweep on the road would be huge for us and I'm sure we can do it if we can play two games for the full 60 minutes.”

JET STREAKS 

Five Jets took part in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament this week at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Mich.

The Jets were represented on Team East by MacKay and defensemen Brad Hepler and Carter Reid, while Holm and Shreve played for Team South.

Monday, MacKay had two assists in Team East's 6-3 win over Team South and Shreve scored for Team South, on a secondary assist from Holm.

Then on Tuesday, Reid had an assist on the East’s lone goal in a 9-1 loss to Team West, while Shreve scored again in Team South’s 6-4 loss to Team Central.

Finishing up on Wednesday, Reid scored and MacKay picked up an assist as Team Central downed Team East 6-4. Shreve then scored for the third game in a row, but Team South was routed 8-1 by Team West.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Cam Bazin, who was a forward with the Jets during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, hung up the skates in 2012 to play college lacrosse at Olivet College, located some 30 miles south of Lansing and 125 miles west of Detroit in Olivet, Mich.

Last season, the 21-year-old Troy, Mich., native had a record-setting season for the Comets.

In 2012-13, Bazin earned second-team All-MIAA honors and helped Olivet post a 10-7 record in its inaugural season of men’s lacrosse. He led team in virtually every statistical category – goals (69), points (99), shots (208), shots on-goal (127), man-up goals (10) and groundballs (144).

Bazin also now holds single-game school records for points (11), goals (9), shots (19) and groundballs (15), while his 69 goals tied for the lead among all NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse players and was second in goals per game (4.06) and fourth in points per game (5.82).

In 2010-11, Bazin tallied three goals and 10 points in 36 games with the Jets and the following year, rang up seven goals and 20 points in 32 games.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Captain's Corner - Toledo, NA3HL Top Prospects, Pittsburgh

Each week for the rest of the 2013-14 season, Metro Jets’ captain Zack MacKay will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League season, the 25th for the Jets as a junior franchise. 

-- On splitting with Toledo, the team they are chasing for the final East Division playoff berth, this past weekend.

Friday’s win was much needed, while the loss Saturday won't make or break us getting a playoff spot – it was still a huge disappointment.

-- On the chances of still making the NA3HL playoffs.

The team knows what's needed from here on out and at this point, it's do or die. We could possibly get away with one loss, but that would put a lot of weight on our shoulders from there on out.

-- On his role as captain at this stage of the season.

As captain, I really need to keep the team focused and motivated on and off the ice. I try to lead by example – a big hit, a solid penalty kill, a shorthanded goal, anything I can do.

-- On playing in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament this week with teammates Kyle Shreve, Alex Holm, Carter Reid and Brad Hepler.

This week at Top Prospects, we all hope to play well and play our game, keeping it simple and sticking to our strengths. Each one of us would like to get noticed at the showcase, but I'm sure so would everyone else. Keeping it simple would likely help us stick out.

-- On next weekend's road trip to Pittsburgh.

With the final road trip coming up, I'm hoping it helps bring everyone closer and really get everyone on the same page. A sweep on the road would be huge for us and I'm sure we can do it if we can play two games for the full 60 minutes.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jets' playoff hopes take step back, lose Saturday to Cherokee

WATERFORD, Mich. - The Metro Jets jumped out to a 3-0 advantage, but lost the lead and the game in a 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Toledo Cherokee at Lakeland Arena.

Dominic Antonelli's goal at 1:12 of the third period snapped the 3-3 tie and put the Cherokee ahead to stay.

Alex Holm, James Roznowski and captain Zack MacKay scored for the Jets, while Kam Limburg stopped 23 shots between the pipes.

With the loss, the Jets are six points behind Toledo for the fourth and final playoff berth in the East Division. Metro has four games remaining, while Toledo has six.

The Jets (19-23-2) next travel to Pittsburgh for two with the Vengeance Feb. 22-23 at Blade Runners USA. Game time is 7:30 p.m. next Saturday and then noon Sunday.

Prior to that, five Jets will participate in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament from Feb. 17-19 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Mich.

The Jets will be represented on Team East by MacKay and defensemen Brad Hepler and Carter Reid, while Holm and fellow forward Kyle Shreve will play for Team South.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Krajewski, Limburg lift Jets past Cherokee Friday night

TOLEDO, Ohio - T.J. Krajewski's goal at 13:36 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and the Metro Jets held on to defeat the Toledo Cherokee 2-1 Friday night at the Team Toledo Ice House.

With the win, the Jets move to within four points of fourth-place Toledo for the final East Division playoff berth.

Kyle Shreve also scored for Metro and captain Zack MacKay assisted on both goals.

Jets' goaltender Kam Limburg made 38 saves between the pipes.

The two teams play again Saturday night back at Lakeland Arena. Game time is set for 7:50 p.m.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jets' rookie forward Downey continuing to make progress

WATERFORD, Mich. – Kyle Downey found out about life-changing events the way most people do nowadays – through social media.

Last summer, the 2013 Plymouth Salem High School graduate was drafted by the Metro Jets in the fifth round (75th overall) of the North American 3 Hockey League draft that is conducted online.

According to Downey, he suspected that may happen.

“The Jets’ Twitter account (@MetroJetsHockey) tweeted that I got drafted here,” remembered Downey, a 19-year-old native of Canton, Mich. “I was in contact with (Jets’ assistant coach) Randy Wilson and knew there was a good chance I was going to end up here with Metro. I knew very little about the Jets coming into the year. As for the league, my high school coach, Ryan Ossenmacher, educated me about the NA3 a decent amount.”

Downey has proven to be a very durable player for the Jets as he’s just a handful of players to have seen the ice in all 42 games. He has tallied six goals and six assists for 12 points so far.

“I believe my overall game has improved, especially from a mental aspect,” said Downey. “Recently, I've been focusing more on the little things and keeping the game simple. The coaching staff we have here is pretty great and they all know a lot about the game. They've taught me some little things about the game that may not seem like much, but it really makes a big difference.”

Having a solid coaching staff is nothing new for Downey, who praised his coaches at Salem.

“Playing for Salem gave me a good foundation of the player I am today,” beamed Downey, who captained Salem in 2012-13. “The coaching staff at Salem is one of the best in the state in my opinion and I believe I wouldn't be the player I am today without them.”

Downey is hoping for a career in hockey long after his days in Waterford have ended.

“My short-term and long-term goals are pretty similar,” explained Downey. “I want to continue to get better and play the game I love. I'm very lucky to have an opportunity to do what I love everyday and I want to continue to for as long as possible.”

He also wants to extend the current season. The Jets are in a dogfight for the final playoff spot in the East Division with the Toledo Cherokee.

”We want to win and if we win, we go to the playoffs,” said Downey. “Like Coach Q (Justin Quenneville) always says, ‘It's not how you start, it's how you finish.’ I don't think anyone is willing to pack it in and throw in the towel on this season.”

JET STREAKS 

The Jets signed defenseman Anthony Catalina prior to last weekend and released defenseman Nate Phillips to clear a roster spot.

Catalina is a 19-year-old native of Chelsea, Mich. He hadn’t played competitive hockey since graduating from Chelsea High School in 2012, where he was teammates with current Jets’ leading scorer and fellow defenseman Brad Hepler.

Last weekend, Catalina skated a few shifts on defense with Hepler and also saw time at forward.

After his senior season of 2011-12, Catalina garnered First Team All-State honors from the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches' Association.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Former Jets’ forward Kevin Shand, who played eight games with the team earlier this season, is now playing for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League.

Shand, an 18-year-old native of Saline, Mich., tallied eight goals and 17 points for the Jets in between stints with the North American Hockey League’s Springfield Jr. Blues.

In four games with the RoughRiders, Shand has recorded one assist. With Springfield, Shand registered eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points in 21 games.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lockner making strides with Jets after taking '12-13 off

WATERFORD, Mich. – And to think that Adam Lockner didn’t play competitive hockey at all last season.

After playing for Farmington High School and graduating in 2012, Lockner suffered an injury in the offseason and sat out the 2012-13 season and focused on school.

Then came the summer of 2013.

“I wasn't playing anywhere and really just wanted to skate,” said the 19-year-old defenseman from Farmington Hills, Mich. “Cooper (McLean) was telling me that the (Metro Jets) were short guys and needed defensemen, so I came to a practice a couple weeks before the season started and was offered a spot.”

McLean, a close friend of Lockner’s, had signed a tender agreement with the Jets during the 2012-13 season at Farmington High and is also a rookie this year with Metro.

”I didn't know much about the Jets, but as the North American 3 Hockey League, I had a few friends that played for other teams and told me it's competitive and they had a lot of fun in the NA3,” said Lockner. “Not playing last year made it tough to just start back up, but I think I have come a long way. I would say my confidence has really improved, helping me play more aggressive.

“All of the coaches (with the Jets) have really helped me a lot. As I said, it was tough not playing last year, but they've done a great job helping me get my legs back and gaining confidence.”

Lockner has proven to be a durable skater this season, playing in all 40 games and scoring one goal with six assists for seven points.

With one more year of junior hockey eligibility remaining after this year, Lockner is hoping for a chance to move up next season and his play as of late when paired with James Roznowski insists he would be ready.

“Quite a few guys from our team alone have had a chance to go to North American Hockey League practices and a couple have moved on and played in games,” Lockner said. “The NA3 is a lot better than people think. More and more players from the NA3 are getting opportunities at higher levels.”

From a team standpoint, it’s crunch time with the Jets clinging to slim hopes of making the league playoffs. Lockner wants to do all he can to extend the season and in the long run, extend his career.

”With eight games left and just barely out of playoffs, we know we have to get these wins,” said Lockner. “We are all excited for these next eight games. We just need to keep working hard and hope it pays off here in the end. I just want to keep playing hard and do my part to help the team get to playoffs and also to continue to go to school. My long-term goals are to continue to develop my game to move on to the next level and ultimately, play college hockey.

“No matter what happens, hockey will always be a part of my life.”

JET STREAKS 

Metro defenseman and leading scorer Brad Hepler started the 2012-13 season in Cleveland before being acquired in January 2013 for forward Jeff Monfils.

Last week, the NA3HL announced the rosters for the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament that will be held from Feb. 17-19 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Mich. The Jets will be represented on Team East by forward and captain Zack MacKay and defensemen Carter Reid and Hepler, while forwards Kyle Shreve and Alex Holm will play for Team South.

Just two more Jets’ regular-season games at home remain this season – Saturday, Feb. 15 against the Toledo Cherokee and Saturday, March 8, also against Toledo.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 

Monfils, who came to the Jets from Cleveland in a summer 2012 trade, is now in his freshman season at ACHA Division I Niagara University.

A 21-year-old native of Washington, Mich., Monfils has tallied three goals in 22 games this season for the Purple Eagles.

Last season between the Jets and Cleveland, Monfils recorded 13 goals and 20 assists (nine goals and 24 points with the Jets) for 33 points in 43 games.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Captain's Corner - Times Square, Toledo, trade, Flint weekend

Each week during the 2013-14 season, Metro Jets’ captain Josh Beleski will give his thoughts on topics surrounding the team as it makes its way through the North American 3 Hockey League season, the 25th for the Jets as a junior franchise. 

-- On how he spent the holidays.

I spent a lot of time with the family. I also went and saw the ball drop in Times Square this year. That was crazy - way too many people there for me. I'm happy with just watching it on TV.

-- On splitting with Toledo last weekend.

The last two games actually went really good. The only problem we had was in the first game in the last minute of the game. Other than that, we played our game and really kept the pressure on them. If we keep playing like this the rest of the season, then we have a really great chance of making the playoffs.

-- On the Kenny Forton-Nate Phillips trade and getting back Kyle Shreve.

Forton is a great guy and the team definitely misses him. I know he did not want to leave this team, but for other reasons, he had no choice but to leave. Phillips is a great guy, too, and he gets along with all the guys and is definitely a big help to our defense. Having Shreve back really helps out the team. He is an incredibly skilled hockey player and we can always use a player like him on the team.

-- On this weekend's home-and-home series with Flint.

The upcoming weekend is going to be very tough, but I know the boys and I can beat Flint. We have been up and down all year, but I believe everything from here on out is going to be all uphill for us. This is the last time we play Flint this season, so we will definitely be coming out hard because we need the points and we don't want to be swept by Flint on the season.