FRASER, Mich. – Dylan Naumovski knew joining the Metro Jets this season that it would be a battle to stay in the lineup on a nightly basis and it would be a battle on the ice against NA3HL opponents.
He was right.
After getting a phone call over the summer from Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville inviting him to main camp, Naumovski accepted the invite, put in the work and cracked the opening night lineup.
In eight games so far this season, the 19-year-old Macomb, Mich., native has posted a goal and three assists for four points.
“Our team is a great group of guys willing to put it all on the line to get the win night in and night out,” said Naumovski. “The league has a high pace and physical style of play, which has its perks. I played in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League last year (with the LaSalle Vipers, pictured) and it prepared me mentally and physically to take on big challenges and to play a bigger role in the closing minutes of games.”
Quenneville has seen Naumovski adjust quickly from Canadian juniors to the NA3HL.
“I spoke to ‘Nemo’ this summer about an opportunity here and how this might be a good fit for him,” Quenneville said. “He has a strong hockey resume, but in talking to him and knowing his family, it sounded like he wasn't given a clear path in preparation for juniors. He deserves those opportunities to advance and we can provide that platform here. If he continues to develop and buy in to the little things, we can see him getting an opportunity in the NAHL.
“At the end of the day, that's what it’s about.”
Naumovski added that the way Quenneville teaches the game is right in his wheel house.
“I'd like to say I'm an offensive-minded defenseman and Q's style of play allows me to fit right into it, which is great,” Naumovski said.
Knowing the Jets are a breeding ground for higher-level junior and college-level teams, Naumovski is hoping his play this season can lead to one or both of those options.
“Long term, I want to win a Silver Cup here with the amazing team we have,” Naumovski said. “Outside of hockey, I want to graduate college with a major in mechanical engineering and a minor in finance and become a successful engineer in the growing world.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Last weekend, the Jets and Wooster Oilers split a home-and-home series with the visiting team winning each game.
The Jets used five different goal-scorers Friday night in defeating the Oilers 5-1.
Jason Newel, Michael Tratar, Chase Sereno, Kevin Shand and Metro captain Matt Dempsey all scored in the win, while Jacob Rutkoske was steady on the back end, finishing with a plus-3 rating.
"Solid road win for the guys,” said Quenneville. “We got complacent a little in the second when Wooster pushed back, but we answered with a couple timely saves and a big goal in the third. We had a few players under the weather tonight, but our guys stepped up and played decent on the road."
Jets goalie Trevor Kalinowski earned the win between the pipes with a 31-save effort.
“We came out hard to set the tone early,” Kalinowski said. “We got a little lax in the second, but we bounced back in the third.”
It just wasn’t one of those nights for the Jets Saturday evening back at Fraser Hockeyland.
After spotting the Oilers an early 2-0 lead, Jets starting goalie Kam Limburg was lifted for Austin Kane, but after Metro roared back to tie the game, Wooster’s go-ahead goal saw Kane’s catching glove fall off and a skate nick his left hand.
Limburg went back in, but after a valiant effort, the Jets dropped a 5-3 decision to Wooster.
The loss was also Metro’s first this season at Fraser Hockeyland.
“You give credit where credit is due and their goaltender (Joe Morgan) made 40-plus saves and we just couldn’t buy one tonight,” Quenneville said. “We put ourselves behind the 8-ball early with some bad bounces and you live and learn. We’ll be fine. It is what it is.”
Shand scored and had an assist for Metro (7-2-0), while Nick Papandrea and Pearce Vance also scored.
Limburg and Kane combined on a 30-save effort in goal.
Metro now heads on the road this weekend to play the Southern Tier Xpress in Jamestown, N.Y. Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s is set for a 5 p.m. start.
Both games will be available on www.fasthockey.com.
Tickets for all Jets home games are available at the ticket office on game day starting at 6 p.m. for $5 or by emailing Nancy Krajewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come to the ticket office on Tuesday nights from 6-8 p.m. and get tickets for any home game for just $2.
Rookie forward Mathias Tellstrom, who was promoted to the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears two weeks ago, was sent back to the Jets on Tuesday.
Tellstrom, a native of Linkoping, Sweden who turns 19 on Friday, played four games for the Alaska-based Brown Bears, notching a goal and an assist. With the Jets, Tellstrom has recorded a goal and a trio of helpers in five games.
Quenneville expects Tellstrom in the Metro lineup this weekend.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Alex Holm, a forward who skated for the Jets from 2012-15, is now entering his freshman season at NCAA Division III Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich.
Holm, a West Bloomfield, Mich., native, rang up 36 goals and 53 assists for 89 points over 130 games with the Jets.