FRASER, Mich. – Trevor Kalinowski is proof you can come home again.
After tending the crease for the Metro Jets for two seasons (2012-13, 2013-14), Kalinowski took his talents north of the border last year before deciding to return to the Jets for his last year of junior hockey eligibility.
Kalinowski realizes he made a wise choice.
“I wanted to be a part of a team that shares similar goals to mine and the determination to accomplish those goals,” said Kalinowski, who turns 20 today. “These first few games have been exciting for me. I've felt just as excited as any of the other boys about starting the season.”
So far, the Commerce Township, Mich., native has been in net for two of Metro’s three wins, including last Saturday’s thrilling shootout win over West Michigan in the Fraser Hockeyland home opener.
Kalinowski said he likes all the changes the Jets franchise underwent over the spring and summer months.
“The team has changed significantly in my opinion and much of this change I saw with our movement to Fraser and our first weekend series away in Pittsburgh,” said Kalinowski. “The boys really got close that weekend and it showed up in both games.”
Competing for playing time with fellow 20-year-old Kam Limburg and rookie Austin Kane, Kalinowski is a fan of the internal competition.
“We work to push each other and we all want to play,” Kalinowski said. “Our competitive play in practice only carries over into the weekend where it all counts.”
Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville sees the goalie situation as a good problem to have at this point in the season.
“I naturally knew ‘Kali’ from two years ago when I first came on to the Jets,” Quenneville said. “He is an experienced goalie and great kid. The formula worked well that season between Kam and Kali as we made playoffs, so when the opportunity came up this offseason, I made sure to discuss in full with both of them about the situation. They were more than comfortable and in fact, felt that it would push each other more. As a coach, you always want your players to make decisions hard for you. If they are not, then you don’t have the right kids.”
Moving forward, Kalinowski’s goals for the year are simple – to keep improving and help the Jets get in position to compete for the Silver Cup.
After this season, Kalinowski has eyes on committing to a university to further his education and get started on his long-term goals, which includes becoming an anatomical pathologist.
First things first, though, and Kalinowski has all his focus on the current season with the Jets.
“I'm looking forward to every day this season,” said Kalinowski. “I know it’s my last year of junior hockey and I want to make the most of it.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets went 1-1 last weekend, starting the weekend with a 3-1 loss in Toledo Friday night before coming back to drop West Michigan 2-1 in a shootout on home ice Saturday night.
Toledo goaltender Glen Bates made 50 saves on the night, losing his shutout on a Pearce Vance shorthanded goal 5:19 into the third period.
“This was not the idea we had on how to end this three-game road start, but if we played bad tonight and put up 50-plus shots, credit is due to their goaltender,” Quenneville said. “We are a better hockey team than we showed and the guys know it. It's too early to hit the panic button on our first loss, but we expect more out of ourselves.”
Limburg stopped 25 shots for the Jets.
Saturday night, Matt Dempsey showed why he’s the captain of the Jets, scoring the lone goal in the shootout as the Jets topped the Wolves in front of 476 spectators at Fraser Hockeyland.
Scoreless first and second periods set the stage for an exciting third period.
Kevin Shand tallied for the Jets at 11:06 of the third period, only to see Brendon Block tie the game at 16:35.
“(Michael) Tratar did a pretty good job winning the draw to me and I saw guys coming at me,” said Shand. “I knew the goalie (Sam Woznicki) cheats a little bit to his glove side, so I went top left and was happy it went in.”
Nothing was settled in overtime and then in the shootout, Kalinowski stopped all three West Michigan shooters.
Graham Day was the other Jets shooter in the shootout, only to be foiled by Woznicki.
“I felt just as excited as everyone else was,” Kalinowski said. “Really exciting to come out for the home opener, work hard for each other and get the win and let the fans have a little fun as well. It wasn’t my first shootout and I had faith in the boys – they’d do their part and I’d do my part.”
Kalinowski made 35 saves, while Woznicki finished with 34 stops for the Wolves.
“Home opener, two points, we’ll take it,” said Quenneville. “The guys had some nerves to brush off in the first, but they stuck with it and obviously, our penalty kill was big (in killing off two five-minute majors during the game), Kalinowski was big for us tonight and we got a timely goal. For the fans, it’s always exciting and we’ll take the two points from this game and move on.”
The Jets next play back at Fraser Saturday night at 7 p.m. against West Michigan.
Jets rookie forward Matthias Tellstrom is not only the lone non-Michigan player on the roster (Linkoping, Sweden), but he’s the first player in team history to wear jersey No. 13.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Jason Cirone, who coached the Jets from 2010-2013, is now entering his second season at the helm of the Midland University ACHA Division I program in Fremont, Neb.
Cirone played one game with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as well as more than 1,000 games at the professional level.
When Cirone stepped down to take the Midland job in Sept. 2013, he was replaced by Quenneville.
TICKETS/HOW TO WATCH
Tickets are also available on game day at the Jets box office.
Every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m., $2 tickets are available at the Fraser Hockeyland box office for any future home game.
All Jets games will also continue to be streamed on www.fasthockey.com.
Check out the Jets official website at www.metrojetshockey.com, like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Metro-Jets-471661773006370/timeline/) and follow on Twitter @metrojetshockey.