FRASER, Mich. – Joining the Metro Jets as a rookie forward last season, Graham Day wasn’t sure what to expect during his first go-round with the North American 3 Hockey League franchise.
As the season went on, he gradually saw his weaknesses change to strengths and his prior strengths improve and progress.
So what’s one more year to play and develop with one of the NA3HL’s flagship franchises, right?
“Playing for ‘Q’ (coach-GM Justin Quenneville) and (assistant coach) Randy (Wilson) was a great experience last year,” said Day. “They made it so I was able to strongly work on my weaknesses while still developing my strengths. They also helped give me a very big confidence boost in my game that has helped me mature as a player. This season, I see myself working towards being a player who can help make plays in key moments of the game to help the team out, whether that be helping shut down defensively or trying to create some offensive chances.”
And with a slew of returning players back in Jets colors, that also played a major role in the 19-year-old Rochester, Mich., native committing to skate another year in the NA3HL and look to build on his five-goal, 13-assist campaign of 2014-15.
“The decision was really easy to make,” Day said. “They are a great group of guys and make the experience that much better. Also after a really strong season last year for the Jets, I wanted to help continue that into this season.”
Quenneville said when he started to assemble this year’s squad, he made signing Day a priority.
“Graham is a hockey player – he’s a coachable player and showed tremendous upside last season on both sides of the puck,” said Quenneville. “It’s hard to find players that ‘get it,’ and if he continues to develop at the pace he is, he will continue to see increased opportunities this year and beyond. We wanted to add increased leadership and depth to our lineup this upcoming season and it is great to have a player the caliber of Graham back.”
The move from Waterford’s Lakeland Arena to Fraser Hockeyland is also a situation that has Day amped to get the season going.
“Through all of my years growing up with the sport of hockey, I always traveled to Fraser a few times a season and it was always fun,” said Day. “I always thought the ‘Big Rink’ was a cool setup and now we get to call that rink our home. The thing I'm looking forward to the most at Fraser is having the Jr. Jets youth program. It gives us the ability to play for others and lets us be idols to kids who are just starting out in the sport.”
If the Jets can give the youth players something to cheer about, even better.
“I expect us to be a very hard team to play against,” Day said. “I see us having a very strong season like last year when we won the East. It will be a mix of a clean slate and carrying what we did last year into this year. We can't think that since we won the division last year that it will be an easy task to do it again.”
Down the line, Day hopes a successful season in Fraser will translate into a North American Hockey League opportunity or even a shot at college hockey.
“I'd like to try and become the best player I can be to help with the success of the Jets,” Day said.
The Jets open defense of their East Division title on Sept. 12-13 with a two-game series in Pittsburgh – also the team Metro upended in the East finals last spring. After a game in Toledo on Sept. 18, the Jets open Fraser on Saturday, Sept. 19 with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop against the West Michigan Wolves.
Early bird season ticket plans are just $80, but the promotion only runs through Labor Day. More information at www.metrojetshockey.com.