ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – This was the matchup the Metro Jets wanted all season – meeting the North Iowa Bulls in the finals of the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament.
It just wasn’t the ending the Jets wanted.
The Bulls downed the Jets 4-1 Sunday afternoon to claim the Silver Cup at a packed Canlan Ice Sports.
“We have been prepping and planning for this opportunity all year,” said Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “Only two teams are awarded this chance to play for a championship and it was only fitting that the two best teams all season faced off. Our guys were banged up and found a way to continue to play through it. In the end, North Iowa capitalized on a few of their chances and got a few more bounces then we did, but I feel like we did a good job containing their speed and put pressure on them throughout the game.
“Watching them receive the national championship trophy was tough, but at least we did what we needed to do to at least get that shot.”
David Chavis opened the scoring for the Jets three seconds into a power play at 6:42 of the first period, but then Kohei Sato answered for North Iowa and NA3HL scoring champion Brett Gravelle tallied the next three, including an empty-net tally, to seal the game for the Bulls.
“We had such a great group of guys and their unity played such a key role in the success this program had this year,” added Quenneville. “Our goal from the start was not just to return to the Silver Cup championship, but to win it. I'm proud of these guys on so many levels and we will come home with our heads held high."
Jets goalie Kam Limburg made 23 saves and the Jets actually outshot North Iowa 32-27.
David Johnson finished with 31 saves for the Bulls.
"I would like to thank the players, parents and staff for all their hard work, but most importantly, our owner, Pete Cammick, who helped make all this happen,” said Quenneville.
Cammick, in turn, gave credit to Quenneville.
“There is no debating the quality of the players and the coaching team of Justin, Jamie (Lovell) and Randy (Wilson),” added Cammick. “Frankly, one of the biggest accomplishments was recruiting 'Q' as head coach and GM. Without him, there would be no Metro Jets hockey in Fraser and probably not in Michigan. All I did was enable Justin and the volunteers like Tom and Nancy Krajewski and Jeff Grebe and everyone else to do what they knew was best to support our team and community.
“I don't deserve the credit – I am just smart enough to recognize great people and then get the heck out of the way.”