WATERFORD, MI – In the month of February, there was no one better in the North American 3 Hockey League than Metro Jets’ forward Mike MacKinnon.
His 19 points led all players and the league rewarded him by naming him its Player of the Month.
That said, MacKinnon has been consistent all season long and is playing his best hockey at the right time.
Ask MacKinnon, though, and he puts all the credit on his teammates.
“Everyone on the team has been playing well as of late and we have a lot of confidence in ourselves,” said MacKinnon, a 19-year-old Troy native drafted by the Jets in the second round (20th overall) last June. “It's really showed as our offense has put up big numbers. Personally, I thought I was going to have a good season, but to be in the hunt for the league scoring title has just been a bonus for me.”
“Mike and his entire line (with Steve Klisz and Trevor Bardallis) were great all month long,” said Jets coach Jason Cirone. “He produces, puts up big numbers and scores the big goals. I think he definitely has the ability to play at the next level. Mike is smart and understands the game. He has goals and is focused on accomplishing them.”
With 67 points heading into this weekend, MacKinnon is tied for second with Klisz. Cleveland’s Cameron Dimmitt has 73 points. The two teams play each other to wrap up the regular season down in Cleveland.
“Winning the scoring title would be great for me or Klisz,” said MacKinnon, who is one of three Jets (Klisz and Doug Andrews) to play in all 46 games this season. “We've been on the same line the whole year and I feel like we’re the two best players in the league and if we play our game, no one can stop us.”
MacKinnon is hoping his strong season will result in North American Hockey League teams taking notice, as some have signed tenders for next season and seen time in the NAHL already this year.
”I'm really happy for all of my teammates signing tenders for next year and of course, I'd like to add my name to that list, but I try not to focus on all that stuff,” MacKinnon said. “If I keep playing the way I can, I know something will open up for me down the line.”
After this weekend, the Jets will venture into the NA3HL Hurster Cup playoffs. Win or lose, MacKinnon feels this year has been a successful one.
”This season has been great for me and has been my most fun year of hockey in my life,” MacKinnon said. “I wouldn't change anything. This team has had a lot of success and we're an extremely confident group. We feel like were the best team in the league and there isn't anyone we can’t beat.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets were blanked in Flint last Wednesday (Feb. 29) by a 7-0 mark and then were idle over last weekend.
This coming weekend, Metro hosts Cleveland for its last two games of the regular season at Lakeland Arena. Game time is 7:50 p.m.Saturday night and then 11:50 a.m.on Sunday.
Metro will see its first playoff action in six years next weekend when the Jets play on the road for a best-of-three series against Cleveland.
Games 1 (March 16) and 2 (March 17) start at 8 p.m., and if a deciding third game is needed, it will be played March 18 at 1:30 p.m.
The NA3HL announced this week that a new expansion team will join the league next year as the Breezy Point (Minn.) North Stars were granted admission into the league.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Two former Jets (defenseman Jacob DeSano and forward Adam Novack) played in the ACHA Division I national championship game Wednesday night for Oakland University, a game the Grizzlies ultimately lost to Delaware, 5-1, in Strongsville, Ohio.
Novack was named to the ACHA D-I All-National Tournament Second Team.
Three other Metro alums in forwards David Merkle and Art Dore and defenseman Mike Corder also skated with OU this year.
Corder (2009-10) and Novack (2008-09) are both former Jets captains.
Current Jets forward Branden Morganroth will play at OU this fall.