WATERFORD, Mich. – Jacob Gleason comes from a hockey family and has cousins playing at all levels of the game.
Tim Gleason is a veteran NHL defenseman, currently with the Carolina Hurricanes, while Ben Gleason is enjoying his rookie season with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights and James Gleason is a former NA3HL player now playing ACHA hockey at Central Michigan University.
For Jacob, though, he’s hoping his time in the NA3HL, which started last season with the Michigan Mountain Cats and has continued this year with the Metro Jets, leads to opportunities at higher rungs of the hockey development ladder.
“This season, I feel like I'm getting better every day,” Gleason said. “I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to play with and a great coaching staff. The boys just buy into the system that ‘Q’ (head coach Justin Quenneville) and (assistant coach) Randy (Wilson) have for us.”
Gleason, a forward and 18-year-old out of Madison Heights, Mich., tallied two goals and seven points last year with the Mountain Cats (now Southern Tier Xpress) and this year with Metro, has gone for 10 points on a goal and nine helpers.
Quenneville said that while Gleason may not be a big point producer, his value to the Jets is beyond seeing his name on the scoresheet.
“He’s got very few deficiencies in terms of his overall game,” said Quenneville. “He’s very good at a lot of little things and he’s a tough player. Not only is he tough mentally, but he’s got a hidden skill set where he keeps things simple and is always on the right side of the puck. He’s got a great release, but he doesn’t always put himself in the most offensive opportunities to capitalize. His numbers may be deceiving, but he’s done a lot more for this team than the numbers show because Jake’s a great two-way player for us.”
Gleason is in agreement with his coach’s assessment.
“Having more experience always helps with having more confidence,” said Gleason, a former Belle Tire and Little Caesars youth player. “I try to help the team in any way I can and I try to be a player that is hard to play against. I just want to keep improving in all aspects of my game right now and want to try and become a smarter player away from the puck so I can get more scoring opportunities.”
Training in the offseason with his high-profile family members is also an asset not many have, but one Gleason takes full advantage of every chance he can.
“Just seeing them succeed is great and helps me want to become better,” Gleason said.
And as Gleason’s team expectations the rest of the way are to get to the USA Hockey Tier III National Tournament, his long-term personal aspirations are just as simple.
“I’m just trying to play hockey as long as I can,” said Gleason.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Metro played a staggered home-and-home with the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks last weekend, winning 6-0 Friday night on the road and then getting the sweep with a 6-3 victory Sunday afternoon back at Lakeland Arena.
The two wins put the Jets in sole position of third place in the East Division, just one point behind second-place Toledo, the team Metro plays two games against this weekend.
Last Friday night, Jake Stephan stopped all 30 shots in the shutout, while Cooper McLean, Max Vance, Devin Kelly and Matt Dempsey all recorded a goal and an assist. Zach Koonce and Chas Distelrath also scored and Alex Holm chipped in a pair of assists.
Then on Sunday, Kyle Shreve put up two goals and an assist, Tyler Layle, Jake Sealy and Graham Day each had a goal and an assist and Holm and Jacob Drinkard contributed two assists apiece.
McLean added another goal and Kam Limburg finished with 14 saves.
“Another solid and consistent weekend for our guys overall,” said Quenneville. “We limited chances against and controlled the pace for both games. This team is really playing at another level right now offensively and as long as they continue to play disciplined hockey, I will bet on them every night.”
This weekend, the Jets (22-12-1) play in Toledo Friday night at 7 p.m. and then host the Cherokee Saturday night for a 7:50 p.m. opening faceoff.
“This is a big test for our club,” added Quenneville. “Toledo is playing strong hockey of late and our games are always competitive. We will need to be on our game against the veteran-filled lineup and the No. 1-ranked power play in the league.”
Sergey Golov, a 17-year-old Russian defenseman, joined the Jets last weekend and played Sunday afternoon in the win over Cleveland.
“Sergey played well and as a ’97 (birthdate), I felt he showed good poise with the puck and decision making,” Quenneville said. “He should benefit from our environment and will need to continue to develop in order to get an opportunity to gain more experience and potentially move up to the NAHL.”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Former Metro forward Cam Bazin is now enjoying a successful lacrosse career at Olivet College.
In 2010-11, the Troy, Mich., native tallied three goals and 10 points in 36 games and then in 2011-12, he rang up seven goals and 20 points in 32 games.
Now a junior at Olivet, Bazin earned second-team All-MIAA honors as a freshman and helped Olivet post a 10-7 record in its inaugural season of men’s lacrosse. He led the 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 holds single-game school records for points (11), goals (9), shots (19) and groundballs (15). 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).
Last season, he earned second-team All-MIAA honors again and led the team in scoring with 62 points, 45 goals, 162 shots, 91 shots on goal and 108 ground balls. Bazin was also second on the team with 17 assists and 22 caused turnovers.