FRASER, Mich. – Kristian Alafriz is the epitome of what it means to be a team player.
A rookie forward with the Metro Jets, Alafriz came into this season with simple expectations – to get better.
“Last summer, I started to train at the MAT, on and off the ice and from there, I was able to meet ‘Q’ (Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville), (assistant coach) Jamie Lovell and a handful of the Jets players,” explained Alafriz. “’Q’ had invited me to main camp in August and I was fortunate enough to sign a tender with the Jets. Graham Day, Jacob Drinkard and Dom Procopio (a local talent playing in the NAHL) had a big influence on my decision to play here.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this organization.”
So far, the 19-year-old Macomb, Mich., native (he turns 20 on Feb. 6) has compiled three goals and 18 points through 26 games.
That said, his game is more than points.
“The season is going great, to say the least,” Alafriz said. “Personally, things are going well, but it could always be better. For it being my rookie season, I’m eager to learn more about the game and working on to develop myself better as a player. On a team level, things are great. It’s great to see a few of the guys get called up to the NAHL and commit to colleges. Every day, we arrive at the rink wanting to get better, individually and as a team.
“The commitment, dedication and work ethic from each player is what leads to the team’s success. We set goals as a team and we’re hoping to accomplish them.”
Alafriz noted his role on the team is to “do the little things.”
“Whether it’s making simple plays, chipping pucks deep, battling in corners, or occasionally getting a few points here and there,” said Alafriz.
“Flow’s opportunity with Jets was a unique one last offseason,” said Quenneville. “He was being recruited in different directions and wasn’t 100 percent committed knowing where he wanted to play. Fortunately for us he was surrounded by players, staff and the facilities throughout the summer and built relationships. He earned every opportunity to sign with Jets and has come a long way since the summer. He has an infectious personality and works extremely hard. I think like any young talent, he had some hurdles in the transition from U18, but he is a committed kid who wants to get better every day. He’s a big part of this team and we hope he sees it, too.”
Around the team, unless you know Alafriz personally, his full name will never be used.
Instead, players, coaches, friends and even family refer to Alafriz by his nickname Quenneville alluded to – “Flow.”
“The story behind the nickname came about in my sophomore year of high school (at L’Anse Creuse North),” said Alafriz. “During that year is when I started to grow the flow. Back then, long hair wasn’t as popular as it is now, if it even is. There was only a handful of students at my high school that had flow, but I’d say I was one of the only ones to actually have a great head of hair. A few of my buddies started to refer me to as ‘Flow’ and one thing led to another and now it’s a nickname.”
And while many players leave home to play junior hockey, that’s not the case with Alafriz and the Jets.
“Living at home is great,” said Alafriz. “The drive to the rink from my house is roughly 15 minutes. It’s definitely nice to enjoy my mother’s home-cooked chicken parm on game days.”
Going forward, Alafriz has his goals set on a positive scale.
“Personally, my expectation is to just contribute as much as I can in order for the team to have the greatest success,” Alafriz said. “For the team, our expectations are to keep the streak going, win the East Division and win the Silver Cup.”
Alafriz also wants to earn a call-up to the NAHL during his junior days and play NCAA Division III hockey down the line. Off the ice, his aspirations include studying business and marketing and owning his business after college graduation.
The Jets get back on the road this Friday to play the Southern Tier Xpress and then Saturday to play the Pittsburgh Vengeance.
Jets rookie forward Louis Boudon, called up last week to the NAHL’s Northeast Generals, played two games last weekend for the Generals, netting a goal in each game.
Boudon signed a tender agreement with Northeast for the 2017-18 season and has since been sent back to Fraser. He is expected to be in the lineup this weekend against Southern Tier and Pittsburgh.