WATERFORD, Mich. – David Chavis II played all of last season in the North American Hockey League, a step up from the North American 3 Hockey League, where he currently mans the blue line for the Metro Jets.
That said, Chavis doesn’t see this season as a backward step in his development, but actually, quite the opposite.
“I ended up with the Jets this season after I was released from the Brookings Blizzard in the NAHL (he played last year with the Odessa Jackalopes),” said Chavis. “I was looking for a place to keep playing and had heard from Jets’ alum Kevin Shand about a team in Waterford that had a great coach who was willing to work with me and help me develop more with the possibility of moving up at some point during the season. Coming to the Jets was a great decision for me. I’ve been working closely with Coach ‘Q’ (head coach Justin Quenneville) and Coach Randy (Wilson) and they've been a huge factor in helping me to build confidence and become a better, more well-rounded hockey player.
“If anything, it’s been a step forward for me because there’s no pressure and I can focus on getting better every day with worrying about filling a certain role.”
Two weeks ago, Chavis added a new role to his resume: team captain.
“I found out I was named team captain when ‘Q’ had a team meeting with us a few days after we all voted,” said Chavis, a 19-year-old Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native. “The distinction means a lot to me – it means that our team has trust in me to lead on the ice and off it. I’m not an overly outspoken guy and I like to lead by example mostly, but that doesn’t mean I won’t talk to my teammates and do whatever I can to help them out, too.”
“David brought immediate solidarity to our defense core,” said Quenneville. “When we came across his information, we didn’t hesitate to find an opportunity for him. He has not only grown as a player since his arrival, but as a leader and therefore, is completely deserving of this opportunity to represent the team as captain. He is a first-on, last-off player in practice, a positive role model, punctual and mature. These are all qualities that you look for in captains, coupled with leading through example.”
Growing up, Chavis played travel hockey in the St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe areas before four years on the varsity team at Grosse Pointe North High School, getting all the way to the Division 1 state championship game in 2012 during his junior year.
Once he graduated high school in 2013, it was down to Texas to play for the Jackalopes.
“Last year in Odessa was great,” said Chavis. “Even though the season and our team stats didn’t go the way we wanted them to go, I had a positive experience. I really matured on and off the ice. Being away from my family forced me to take on more responsibility, but at the same time, I had a fantastic billet family and I still remain close friends with them.”
So far with Metro this season, Chavis has played in all 12 games and has tallied three goals and eight points, along with a plus-9 rating. Beyond points, though, is the positive experience he has picked up over the first six weeks of the season.
“There’s a lot I like about the Jets,” Chavis said. “It’s close to home for me, so that’s nice, but more so, I like the organization because the coaches care about my personal development. The team is also very close-knit and there’s a very family-like camaraderie between the players as well as the coaching staff.
“I came in to this team with the attitude that I have to work as hard as I can in order to get better. I guess it was a natural transition with my leadership style because if I can work hard and do things right, that’s leading by example.”
Chavis’ foreseeable future has him setting and hoping to accomplish several goals that he feels are well within reach.
“My short-term goals for hockey are to improve my skills, become a smarter hockey player and hopefully, get another shot in the NAHL,” said Chavis. “My long-term goals are to continue to play the sport I love in college whether it be Division I or Division III, and maybe play after college.”
“Being a hard worker is just not enough nowadays,” added Quenneville. “Every player works hard, they are expected to, but at the next level, accountability on your own development is a necessity. David will have to continue to want to develop his game away from the puck and make consistent good decisions with the puck to maximize that opportunity.
“If he continues on the path he is on right now, David will be another player that will move up from the Metro Jets with flying colors.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets travelled east last weekend and extended their winning streak Saturday night, but then saw that streak end Sunday afternoon.
Saturday night, a 7-1 win over the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks pushed Metro’s winning streak to five games as Cooper McLean scored twice and goalie Jake Stephan stopped 33 shots.
Jacob Gleason, Zach Koonce and Matt Dempsey each had a goal and an assist, while Andrew Sawyer and Kyle Shreve scored one apiece and Max Vance contributed two assists.
The Pittsburgh Vengeance then ended the streak with a 2-1 win over the Jets Sunday afternoon as Jacob Stack made 28 saves in the Vengeance net.
Dempsey scored the Jets’ lone goal and Stephan finished with 29 saves.
“Another strong two-game effort for our club,” Quenneville said. “Naturally, we are disappointed with the questionable timing of the late power-play goal in Pittsburgh to snub us from another perfect weekend, but there are a lot of positive to pull from a two-game road set like that. We played our most consistent games and outplayed both teams both nights. In this game, a big save, a missed opportunity or an uncontrollable call can take away a win in an instant, but if you remain consistent in your execution and your play, you will give yourself a chance to win every night, and that’s all you can ask of your players on game day.”
This weekend, the Jets (7-5-0) play a home-and-home set with the Toledo Cherokee, starting Friday night at Lakeland Arena for a 7:50 p.m. opening faceoff. Saturday’s game in Toledo starts at 7 p.m.
“This is our biggest test of the year so far,” said Quenneville. “We are excited for the contests and are prepared for the battle. We are a different team than the second weekend of the year (when Toledo swept the Jets), so look for two teams playing hard this weekend for the battle of first place (in the East Division).”
Both games this weekend will be available on www.fasthockey.com.
Metro plays just two home games in November (Nov. 8 against Pittsburgh and Nov. 22 against Toledo) and then just one at Lakeland in all of December (Dec. 13 against West Michigan).
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Vincent Pietrangelo, a steady defenseman who was the Jets’ first-round pick in the 2009 Central States Hockey League (now NA3HL) draft, is now the associate head coach at Big Rapids High School in Big Rapids, Mich., after serving as an assistant coach last season.
Pietrangelo, a 23-year-old native of Traverse City, Mich., posted a goal and nine points in 47 games with the Jets during the 2009-2010 season before going to NCAA Division III Finlandia University, where injuries shortened his collegiate career.
Pietrangelo’s third cousin, Alex Pietrangelo, plays for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, while Vincent’s father, Tony, is a third cousin of Alex's uncle, Frank Pietrangelo, himself a former NHL goaltender with Pittsburgh and Hartford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.