FRASER, Mich. – In recent memory, the Metro Jets have seemed to be the mecca of player advancements.
And that trend has continued into the offseason as defenseman Tyler Layle, who piled up 12 goals and 33 points last year, has committed to attend and play hockey at ACHA Division III Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The school is just a mere 12-minute drive from Layle’s Grandville home.
And it’s a school that Layle, who played for Davenport University two seasons ago before being the Jets’ first-round pick in the 2014 NA3HL Entry Draft, had been eyeing for quite some time.
“The opportunity came about when the (assistant) coach (Jordan Permoda) came to a few of our games last season,” said the 20-year-old Layle. “I had mentioned to a buddy of mine that plays there, Corey Giffel, that I would like to go school at Aquinas because of their majors they offer. I talked to their coach briefly through him and throughout the season and more towards the end of the season.”
Layle will enter Aquinas as a freshman as not all his credits from Davenport will transfer.
“I've heard nothing but good things about Aquinas and they have a lot to offer,” added Layle. “I went to their recruit skate at the end of April and it was well-organized. I met a majority of the returning players and they were very welcoming and a great group of kids. On top of that, they offer great academic programs, it's close to home, they are moving their team to a new rink starting this fall, with a new locker room, they have a great coaching staff and on top of majoring in kinesiology, I get to continue my hockey career.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville saw Layle’s game gradually develop and progress this past season and he’s elated to see Layle get the opportunity to further his career and education at Aquinas.
"We wish Tyler the best of luck,” Quenneville said. “He was instrumental in the success we had as an organization. Aquinas will be acquiring a great character player with strong offensive abilities.”
Last year, Layle led all Metro blueliners in scoring and finished in the top 10 in NA3HL defensemen scoring. He also posted a plus-19 rating and totaled four power-play goals and one game-winner.
“The past season with the Jets helped my development greatly and I think I played more defensive than I have in my past seasons,” Layle said. “I got better at the important things, like walking the blue line and keeping my shots lower from the point. The coaching staff at Metro was outstanding to the say the least. There was never a negative influence from them. They were always there if you needed help, always there to answer questions, and always more the happy to be at the rink everyday making us better.
“Overall, I would say I got better at decision-making, from the first pass out of the zone or knowing if I should shoot or make the pass. I think as the season went on, I got the hang of the speed and how much time I had in each situation and I became more patient with my decisions.”
A member of the 2015 East Division champions, Layle said he’ll take last season to Aquinas and use that winning mindset to hopefully taste the same success in college.
“Last year, we had this whole mentality of buying in,” explained Layle. “I would tell the incoming guys to buy in right away. You have a great coaching staff and great opportunities starting fresh at a new rink and new locker room and buying into Coach Q's system will win you games and eventually more than that. Being under this coaching staff, they have a lot of connections on moving you up to a higher level.
“We had many players last season who were called up and I hope there will be many more.”
Photo (l-r) – Jordan Permoda, Tyler Layle, Chris Layle