WATERFORD, Mich. – It’s not often a defenseman leads his team in scoring, but that’s what Brad Hepler is doing this year for the Metro Jets.
A second-year vet, Hepler has recorded 18 points going into this weekend, but said he is just playing a simple game and the luck is going his way.
“I have been working hard on my passing and getting the puck to the open guy,” said the 19-year-old from Chelsea. “The forwards have been doing a good job at what they do.”
Acquired last year from the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks for forward Jeff Monfils, Hepler attended several main tryout camps for North American Hockey League teams this past summer, but came up just a bit short.
He said it was a no-lose situation as coming back to Waterford can only help his game.
“So far this season, I believe that I have been steady, but there is still room for improvement,” Hepler said. “As far as the team goes, we need to keep working hard and improve our overall game as a team. Coach Justin (Quenneville) has been doing a great job at taking over and making us a better team and all the players, including myself, like Coach Justin and his systems.”
On the ice, it’s hard not to notice Hepler as his 6-foot-4 frame immediately is on display.
“I think on the offensive side, my size limits other players from getting to the puck,” explained Hepler. “On the defensive side, my size becomes a factor in blocking shots and clearing the zone.”
Already armed with the knowledge needed to crack an NAHL team this year or next, Hepler wants to keep contributing for Metro with an eye on his future.
“My goals are to hopefully get called up to an NAHL team this year or next year and then playing for a good college program,” said Hepler. “Our team goal is to finish up the second half of the year strong and make the playoffs.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets split on the road last weekend with the Cincinnati Swords, losing Saturday night, but coming back and winning in a big way Sunday afternoon.
Nick Haase registered two goals and two assists as the Swords defeated the Jets 6-2 Saturday night at SportsPlus Cincinnati.
Alex Holm and Matt Dempsey scored for the Jets, while Trevor Kalinowski and Kameron Limburg combined to stop 22 shots in goal.
Kevin Shand then scored twice and added three assists as the Jets took a 6-1 win Sunday afternoon.
Jets' captain Josh Beleski tacked on a goal and two assists, while James Roznowski added a goal and a helper.
Adam Lockner and Hepler also scored for Metro and Limburg stopped 32 shots in goal.
The Jets (8-10-1) next host the Flint Jr. Generals tonight at 7:50 p.m. at Lakeland Arena before going to Flint to play the Jr. Generals Sunday afternoon at Iceland Arenas for a 2:30 p.m. puck drop.
Shand was recalled by the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues earlier this week, re-joining the team he began the season with before being reassigned to the Jets a month ago.
With the Jets, Shand tallied eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in just nine games.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Kyle Shreve, a forward that skated with the Jets last year, is currently on the Springfield roster.
The 18-year-old Walled Lake native has registered three goals and eight points so far in 16 games with the Jr. Blues.
During the 2012-13 campaign with the Jets, Shreve averaged a point per game with 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points in 24 games.
Shreve signed a tender agreement last season with Springfield.