FRASER, Mich. – The third time is proving to be the charm for Kevin Shand.
This season is Shand’s third stint with the Metro Jets after skating for the club in short spurts during each of the previous two seasons between action in the United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League.
The 20-year-old from Saline, Mich., has been with the Jets all season long and all he’s done is compile 31 goals and 61 points to not only sit in a tie in team scoring with linemate Michael Tratar, but also be tied with Tratar for third in NA3HL scoring.
“I decided to come back to Metro this season because I believed it was the best opportunity to help improve myself as a hockey player and a person after some rough times throughout my first two years of my junior career,” said Shand, who has also played for the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues (twice), Brookings Blizzard and Coulee Region Chill, as well as in the USHL for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
During his last two occasions in Jets colors, Shand averaged a goal per game and nearly two points per game, with 13 goals and 24 points in 13 contests.
With the Jets this season, Shand found instant chemistry with Tratar and Mathias Tellstrom.
Tellstrom’s 56 points have him seventh in league scoring.
“I think we click for multiple reasons,” Shand said. “First off, we are all really close off the ice. Always together and talking and joking around with each other and that helps build chemistry. Secondly, just the type of players we are helps us click. ‘Trots’ is a playmaker, ‘Telly’ has an amazing skill set and has great speed and shot, and I'm just a guy who can put a puck in the net.”
Ever so humble, Shand also has respect in the locker room. Younger players not only look up to Shand, but he’s happy to pass along nuggets of knowledge he’s picked up along the way.
“I'd like to consider myself a leader in the dressing room and my experience in the USHL and NAHL helps with that of course,” explained Shand. “I'm a very fun, easy-going locker room guy and I love to give the first-year players advice on or off the ice. This team is special because we have so many crazy characters, yet we all mesh well together. Everyone gets along and everyone looks forward to coming to the rink every day. Definitely the closest team I've been on.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville has been impressed with Shand since Day 1.
“I have been fortunate to coach at this and the NAHL level for years and every once in a while, you get a player that as we refer to as one who ‘gets it,’” said Quenneville. “Kevin is one of those players who understands the game and holds a high hockey IQ. Naturally, everyone notices his skill set, but the way he carries himself around his teammates and peers is special. He loves and respects the game, and was brought up the right way by working for his opportunities and not expecting them. He is first at the rink every day and as early as I get here, he sometimes beats me. I can't say that too many players get the amount of collegiate attention he has been receiving, and he is taking his time to educate himself on those opportunities.
“One thing that stands out more than anything is that Kevin gave up his Top Prospects spot for another teammate to benefit from the exposure. That type of selfless act is why he will be a successful player at every level he reaches.”
Shand’s father, Dave Shand, played in the NHL for the Atlanta Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, and was also an assistant coach at the University of Michigan from 1990-92.
“My dad has always been a great help to me growing up,” Shand said. “He started coaching me very young and always pushed me to be the best I could be. He's got tons of advice and stories in the old mind of his.”
Quenneville has also been a positive influence on the younger Shand, who won a Division 3 high school state championship in 2013 with Cranbrook-Kingswood.
“’Q’ has been the biggest influence on me in my junior career,” said Shand. “He will do anything for his players. He's a great hockey mind and a great mentor. I can't thank him enough for what he has done for me over the past three years.”
After this season, Shand will age out of junior hockey. He said he’s been in contact with “lots of schools” and his goal is “to find a great education and a great hockey program combined at the NCAA Division III level.”
If that happens, he’ll be the next Shand to play at the collegiate level. His twin sister, Mackenzie, who is two hours older, is a two-time All-American volleyball player at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.
Still, college is in the future and the present is the priority.
“The way the team is going now, winning a Silver Cup is all that is on our minds,” said Shand.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets journeyed to Jamestown, N.Y., last weekend and outscored the Southern Tier Xpress 17-1 in gaining a weekend sweep at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena and clinching a playoff berth in the process.
Metro scored one in the first period and one in the third, but a four-goal second period put away the Xpress and the Jets took a 6-1 victory Saturday night.
Shand posted two goals and an assist, Tellstrom and Chas Distelrath a goal and an assist each and Jason Recchia and Chase Sereno also scored for Metro.
“Good job of our guys keeping the momentum in the offensive zone tonight,” said Quenneville. “We had all kinds of goals tonight, which was nice. Also, ‘Kaner’ did what he needed to do when Southern Tier had a little push back in the second period, but overall, a pretty consistent game from everyone.
“I'm more proud of the focus our guys have right now and the drive to continue to put up wins. Hopefully, we continue this ride and get stronger as we push towards playoffs.”
Tratar added three assists, Pearce Vance two assists and Austin Kane made 23 saves in goal, only allowing a power-play goal midway through the second period to Jacob St. Andre.
“I thought we played well after we got our legs going,” said Recchia. “We played our game and we finished how we should.”
For the first time in at least the past 10 years, the Jets registered eight goals in a period, scoring that many in the third Sunday afternoon to pull away from Southern Tier and sweep the weekend series with an 11-0 win.
Shand and Vance (with an assist) each posted hat tricks, Tellstrom contributed two goals and three assists and Tratar added four assists to back Kam Limburg’s 18-save shutout, his third of the season and his second in consecutive starts.
The Jets outshot the Xpress 72-18.
“That was a good way to finish off the weekend,” Quenneville said. “I have to say that is a first for me in my coaching career, to see the guys put up eight in a period the way they did and distribute the puck that well was fun to watch. Another shutout for Kam was nice and of the few chances we gave up, he made the saves needed. Moving forward, we need to continue to play 60 minutes and this week we will focus on getting ready for Pittsburgh.”
Sereno scored a goal with two assists, David Chavis and Jacob Gleason added a goal and an assist apiece and Distelrath, Devin Kelly and Cam Schwartz chipped in with a pair of assists.
“I thought we played great Jets hockey and we moved the puck well,” said Vance. “My line (with Sereno and Distelrath) is heating up and rolling. We just need to carry this momentum into next weekend.”
Metro (31-3-2, first place in East Division) plays two at home this weekend against the Pittsburgh Vengeance. Game times at Fraser Hockeyland are 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, followed by a 12:45 p.m. start on Sunday.
Tickets are available at the arena ticket office one hour before game time or by emailing Nancy Krajewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well, tickets for all remaining home games can be purchased for $2 each (a savings of $3) by coming to the ticket office Tuesday night from 6-8 p.m.
Tratar is the lone Metro player this season to skate in all 36 games.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Check out the Jets extensive list of alumni at all levels of hockey at THIS LINK.