WATERFORD, MI – Chris Mayer wanted a change.
He wanted better hockey.
So his family uprooted from Santa Fe, N.M., a little more than three years ago and moved to West Bloomfield, where Mayer currently lives while playing for the Metro Jets.
Mayer, one of two out-of-state natives on the roster along with Las Vegas' Thomas Evans, landed in Michigan in the summer of 2009, just prior to his freshman year at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School, where he played the past three years before winding up with the Jets this season.
Last year, Mayer was teammates with current Jets’ goalie Austin Julvezan as OLSM advanced all the way to the Division I high school state semifinals before going out to Brighton High School in a double-overtime thriller.
“I felt like I needed a change from high school hockey and since I heard a lot of good things about (Jets’ head coach) Jason Cirone, that helped a lot with the choice,” said Mayer. “I was also influenced to try out by Tom Evans, who is my best friend. I really didn't know that much about the team, but I knew that the league does a good job of developing its players.”
When Mayer initially moved to Michigan, the adjustments to the hockey landscape and the geographical landscape were equally tough at the start.
“Besides the want for better hockey, my mom grew up in Ferndale and pretty much her whole family lives here, plus my parents wanted me to go to St. Mary's,” explained Mayer. “The hockey atmosphere from Santa Fe to Michigan is 100 percent different. There are only seven teams in the whole state of New Mexico and at first, it was a little overwhelming at how much hockey there is in Michigan, but I feel I made the adjustment fairly quickly.”
This season with Metro, Mayer has one assist in 30 games, but believes his game is more than goals and assists.
“I believe my role on the team is to be a high-energy guy and to always be that hard-working guy,” said Mayer. “I think playing at St. Mary’s helped me prepare mentally and physically for junior hockey. My short-term goals are to play in the NAHL next year and I have always wanted to play Division I college hockey, so that is my long-term goal.”
And as the Jets make one final push to gain an NA3HL playoff berth, though just a rookie, Mayer knows what needs to be done and what’s at stake each time the team hits the ice.
“We know that we have to be serious if we want to improve our record, but we do that while also trying to keep a positive attitude,” said Mayer. “The veterans know how to maintain order in the room and are very good about keeping our heads on right.
“Personally, I think if we really focus on winning as many games as possible the rest of the way, we will be able to do it. The team feels the same way, too.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets took home one point last weekend after an overtime loss to Cleveland on Saturday night at home, but then lost Sunday afternoon to the Toledo Cherokee.
Waterford native Scott Cuthrell did in the Jets in on Saturday night, scoring the game-tying goal in the final second of the third period and then the overtime winner as the Jr. Lumberjacks defeated the Jets 6-5.
Brad Hepler scored two goals for the Jets and Metro captain Matt Stirling drew four assists.
Jeff Monfils, traded to Cleveland two weeks ago for Hepler, was held without a point in his first game against his old teammates.
Doug Andrews and Kyle Shreve each contributed a goal and an assist for the Jets, while Josh Hosking netted the other goal.
Julvezan made 40 saves between the pipes.
The Cherokee used five different goal-scorers to defeat the Jets 5-2 on Sunday.
Andrew Palushaj and Shreve scored in a 2:30 span in the middle of the second period, but that was all the offense the Jets could muster.
In goal, Riley Corbin finished with 27 saves in suffering the loss.
The Jets (12-19-2-0) play a pair Friday and Saturday at the Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser against the Michigan Mountain Cats.
When the Jets and Mountain Cats play this weekend, the two head coaches involved (Cirone and Michigan’s Chad Grills) have extensive playing careers in pro hockey. Cirone and Grills together played more than 1,600 games at the pro level, with Cirone playing his 1,000th games in 2008. Cirone also played three games with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets during the 1991-92 season.
The Jets released 20-year-old defenseman Brodie Wilson (Clinton Township) on Thursday. Wilson had one assist in five games with Metro.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Defenseman Ian Cosgrove, who played for the Jets during the 2006-07 season, is currently in his senior season at Fredonia State University, a Division III school in Fredonia, N.Y.
After graduating from the Jets, the Rochester native played two seasons in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Soo Thunderbirds before going to Fredonia, where he has been on the dean’s list the majority of his time at the school.
During his season in Waterford, Cosgrove, who turns 24 in June, recorded three goals and eight points in 13 games.