FRASER, Mich. – Heading into last weekend’s home-and-home series with the West Michigan Wolves, Jacob Drinkard had 12 points over 17 games for the Metro Jets.
He left the weekend averaging better than a point per game after a four-goal, four-assist performance as the Jets swept the Wolves.
On Tuesday, he was subsequently named the NA3HL’s East Division Star of the Week.
Ask Drinkard what the secret has been to his recent success, though, and he credits his linemates, Graham Day and Metro captain Matt Dempsey.
“Playing with Day and Dempsey is great,” said Drinkard, a 19-year-old product of Lapeer, Mich. “We always just seem to find and read off each other while we are out there. All three of us are similar players. We all like to grind and I think that has been to part of our success, being able to work pucks down low in the dirty areas.”
“’Drinks’ had a big weekend for our club,” added Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “He is a player who does all the little things, is extremely coachable and has a great head on his shoulders. Our leadership group overall has been playing great of late and he is one of them who got rewarded in a big way finally.”
Drinkard is one of the Jets’ three captains this season (Day is the other alternate) and said wearing a letter is a privilege.
“Being named a captain this year was a huge honor,” Drinkard said. “We have an amazing group of guys here and it truly was an amazing feeling that they thought of me as one of the leaders.”
Starting the 2014-15 season with the NA3HL’s La Crosse Freeze after playing 2013-14 with the NA3HL’s Flint Jr. Generals (who were sold and relocated to La Crosse, Wis.), Drinkard had an opportunity this season to move up and play for the Aston Rebels of the North American Hockey League, but said “after training camp, it just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
So he chose to come back and fine-tune his game with the Jets with an eye on playing college hockey next season.
“My game has developed a lot with my puck management skills and my shooting thanks to the coaching staff,” Drinkard said. “They have been a huge help in me being able to evolve my game.”
Drinkard also noted that he’s aiming for a Silver Cup run next spring and once he gets to college, a law degree is next on the agenda.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
It was another weekend sweep for the Jets in a home-and-home series last weekend with the Wolves.
The Jets led from start to finish and a four-goal third period put the game out of reach in an 8-3 win Friday night in Kalamazoo at Wings West.
Drinkard had two goals and three assists for the Jets and Dempsey added a goal and four assists as goaltender Kam Limburg made 40 saves for the win.
“We got some production from guys that I have been hard on here lately, so I am happy they stepped up,” said Quenneville. “Overall, we played well and did a good job pushing the pace consistently.”
Pearce Vance scored the game’s first two goals for the Jets, while Day, Mathias Tellstrom and Stefan Boskovic added single goals.
“This win was big as we were coming off a tough weekend (against Southern Tier) and it good to get our confidence back and get rolling again,” said Vance. “It felt great to get on the board early and get ahead right out of the gate.”
T.J. Krajewski, traded last Thursday by the Jets to the Wolves, recorded a pair of assists in his first game with West Michigan. He added another helper on Saturday night.
Drinkard continued his torrid pace with three more points (two goals, assist) Saturday night as the Jets earned a 4-3 win at Fraser Hockeyland.
“These wins are huge and create some separation in the standings,” said Drinkard. “My linemates are clicking here and on the ice, we’re finding each other more and more and we’ve been able to put a couple pucks in the net.”
Kevin Shand, who has scored in eight of the Jets’ 10 home games so far, had a goal and an assist and Day also scored for the Jets. Limburg stopped 23 shots in goal for his 10th win of the season, which has him in a three-way tie atop the NA3HL leader board.
Jason Recchia tacked on two assists for the Jets.
“I liked how we competed,” Quenneville said. “I think we really dictated the pace early, controlled the play, and we wanted to get that fifth one to really spread it open, but credit to West Michigan for not giving up and coming back.”
The Jets led 2-1 after 20 minutes and 4-1 through two periods.
Metro (15-3-1, first place in the East Division, eight points ahead of Pittsburgh) now gets set for a home-and-home series with the Wooster Oilers, starting Friday night in Ohio at 7:45 p.m. before wrapping up at Fraser Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday night is also another Education Awareness Night where any fan that brings a donation of school supplies will get one free voucher for a future Jets game.
Tickets are available for $5 at the Fraser Hockeyland box office starting at 6 p.m. Saturday night or by emailing Nancy Krajewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The games this weekend will also be streamed live on www.fasthockey.com.
Drinkard, Dempsey and forward Michael Tratar are the only three Jets to play in all 19 games this season.
Goaltender Michael Latorella, signed a month ago to back up Limburg after Trevor Kalinowski and Austin Kane were injured, was released this week. The 17-year-old from Macomb, Mich., played just one game, making 22 saves in a 3-1 win at Toledo on Oct. 30.
Players from the Jets and Jr. Jets youth teams will be walking in the Mount Clemens Santa Claus Parade this Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
Upcoming promotions – Dec. 5 will be a Toys For Tots event where a donation gets each fan in free of charge. Teddy bears will also be available for purchase at the game to throw on the ice during the Teddy Bear Toss. Then on Jan. 23, the Jets will host Heroes & Military Night. All those with military credentials will be admitted free and recognized during the game.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Former Jets’ forward Dwight Parrish, who played on the first-ever team back in 1989-90, enjoyed a college and pro career that spanned more than 700 games from 1992-2008.
Parrish, a 43-year-old Southfield, Mich., native, skated at Ferris State University from 1992-96 and then in the American Hockey League, International Hockey League and East Coast Hockey Leagues before jaunting off to play pro hockey in Great Britain from 2000-08.
On Dec. 23, 2008, Parrish announced he was retiring from hockey to accept a job offer outside of hockey back in Michigan.
For his hockey career in England with both the Manchester Storm and Manchester Phoenix organizations, Parrish's No. 17 was the first to be retired by the Phoenix, a decision that was announced at Parrish's last game, a 3-2 home win against the Newcastle Vipers.