WATERFORD, Mich. – Josh Beleski will soon be serving his country, but for now, he’s enjoying his time serving the Metro Jets as team captain.
Picked to wear the ‘C’ in September, the 20-year-old Southgate native also decided to enlist in the Navy and will be shipping off to boot camp some time next year, perhaps before the Jets’ North American 3 Hockey League season ends.
Until that time comes, Beleski is working to fine-tune his game on the ice and help Metro move up the NA3HL standings.
“I feel like I'm improving everyday,” said Beleski, now in his third season with the Jets. “I'm always trying to learn from my mistakes and stay positive with everything I do and if I do that, then it not only helps me, but shows my teammates that mistakes are going to happen. It's what you do after the mistake that matters. I just need to keep working hard everyday and make sure I'm being the best leader I can be for my team.”
Now two months into his stint as captain, Beleski said he has added pressure, but it’s to be expected.
”I know what I need to do when I come to the rink everyday and I know that my team looks up to me in certain situations,” Beleski said. “To be honest, I like the added pressure. I feel like it makes me step up my game and helps me build leadership skills that I can use the rest of my life.”
Those skills will be put to the test next year at Naval Station Great Lakes, the nation’s only Navy boot camp. Located near Chicago, Beleski is excited to start the next chapter of his life when the time is right.
“I've wanted to join the military for a long time now, but just never really knew what branch I wanted to go into,” said Beleski. “I decided to go with the Navy because they offer the best opportunity for me and I thought it would be nice to follow in my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and become a sailor. I have already been sworn in and after boot camp, I'm going on active duty where I'll be out in the field with the Marines as a combat medic.”
Beleski said the biggest change over his time in Waterford, and this may have something to do with making the choice to join the Navy, has been an improved attitude.
“I feel like I have grown into more of a man and a better leader over the past few years I have been here,” Beleski said. “A lot of that has to do with the coaching staff I've had over the last couple seasons. They have taught me a ton of new things about the game of hockey, but most importantly, they also taught me some valuable life lessons that I will use the rest of my life and I'm thankful for that. I can't really pick out one favorite memory because they are all pretty special, but I will always remember the road trips I took over the years those were probably the best memories.”
As for the Jets, Beleski feels the club is one momentum swing away from going on a run in NA3HL play.
“I'm going to continue to do what I do and that is work hard everyday and be the best leader I can be,” said Beleski. “As a team, I think we are heading in the right direction and by the end of the year, I think we will be one of the top teams in the league competing for the championship.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets were blanked 4-0 by the Flint Jr. Generals last Friday night on the road before rebounding and doubling up the Michigan Mountain Cats by a 4-2 count Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.
The Jr. Generals had a three-goal lead after two periods and cruised the rest of the way Friday night at Iceland Arenas. Jets' goaltender Kameron Limburg recorded 33 saves in the game.
Saturday night, Beleski recorded two goals and an assist, Zach Kopinski and Kevin Shand also scored and Trevor Kalinowski made 24 saves for the win in goal.
The Jets (7-9-1) travel to Cincinnati to play the Swords this weekend (Nov. 9-10) for a two-game set.
Currently in fifth place in the East Division, the Jets are just one point back of fourth-place Toledo and three back of third-place Pittsburgh.
Metro is 4-3-0 on home ice and 3-6-1 away from Lakeland Arena.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
John Burkart, an assistant coach on the 2001-02 Silver Cup-winning Jets’ Junior B national championship team, is now an amateur scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
After the Jets, Burkart was an assistant coach under current Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, the head coach of the ’01-02 Jets, in the North American Hockey League with the Texarkana Bandits and with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, winning championships at each stop.