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 (pictured above). “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.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets and Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks split their two-game set last weekend in Cleveland.
Saturday night, Metro took a 4-3 shootout win as T.J. Krajewski's goal was the difference.
Zach Kopinski scored twice in regulation for the Jets, while Kyle Shreve added a goal and an assist.
Trevor Kalinowski finished with 32 saves for the win between the pipes.
Then on Sunday afternoon, the Jr. Lumberjacks beat the Jets 4-2.
Shreve and Downey scored for the Jets and Kalinowski made 24 saves.
The Jets (18-22-2) next play a home-and-home series with the Toledo Cherokee, starting Friday night in Toledo and concluding Saturday night at Lakeland Arena for a 7:50 p.m. puck drop.
Metro is just six points behind the Cherokee for the final playoff spot in the East Division, but Toledo has three games in-hand.
“(Quenneville) has been telling us that we need to understand how important the games are,” said Metro captain Zack MacKay. “If we don’t figure it out soon, it’ll be too late.”
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.