FRASER, Mich. – When you get used to playing in a positive environment, it’s tough to leave.
Just ask Graham Day.
Now in his third and final season with the Metro Jets, the 20-year-old Day has improved each year he has skated with the club and this season, takes on added responsibility as captain of the North American 3 Hockey League team.
“Deciding to come back was an easy decision to make after two great seasons with the Jets,” said Day, a native of Rochester, Mich. “I felt that I should play hockey while I can before going to school, so I wanted to play juniors for as long as I could. I also knew that if I wanted to play at a higher level of hockey later on, playing another year with the Jets will help me out. We also have a great facility, staff and group of players that showed it would be another enjoyable season.”
After posting five goals and 18 points in 2014-15, Day tallied 11 goals and 36 points a year ago while also serving as an alternate captain.
“I feel the area of my game that has improved the most over the last two years with the Jets is my decision making with the puck in tight areas,” explained Day. “During my first year, it took me a while to get used to the difference in speed between juniors and high school, and last year it started to improve even more. This is an area I still want to vastly improve on if I want to progress my game.”
As for being voted captain, that is a “huge honor,” according to Day.
“It’s a great feeling to know that the guys see me as someone who can help lead them through the year,” Day said. “I want to be the type of leader that others can view as a role model on and off the ice. I want to be there to help the guys out if they need anything during the season.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville has seen Day’s game and leadership develop in the two-plus years he’s been with the program.
“’Dayzer’ has been the model player for development,” said Quenneville. “He has improved his game in all areas every year and been a consistent player for as long as he has worn a Jets jersey. Players of his versatility and abilities don’t come around often, but what makes him such a model player is his work ethic, character and passion he holds for the game. He has a bright future no matter what path is ahead of him, but right now, he is the leader of this team and deserves every opportunity ahead of him.”
Metro’s three alternate captains are defensemen Dylan Naumovski, Jason Recchia and Marc Schwartz.
Just seven games into the season, the Jets are winning games, but Day knows the season is far from over and the grind has only begun.
“The feeling early on in the year is the same vibe we had at the end of the year of last season,” said Day. “Everyone is excited to be playing again, and everyone is already best friends with every other player.”
This past summer, Day also experienced firsthand the NHL Draft in Buffalo as his younger brother, Sean, was selected in the third round by the New York Rangers. Sean is now in his fourth season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads.
“It was a surreal feeling being able to experience the NHL Draft,” Day said. “It was once in a lifetime to see my brother get drafted and I couldn’t be any more proud of him and how he’s achieving his dream one step at a time.”
In Fraser, though, Day is all business as the Jets look to find more success in the 2016-17 season.
“Personally, my goals are to try and help this team out as much as possible on and off the ice this season, and to try and develop myself and work on the small areas of my game to try and improve,” Day said. “As a team, I want us to not let the foot off the gas pedal. We’ve had a strong start to the year and I want us to continue this good run of games throughout the entire season.”
Hopefully this time next year, Day said he hopes to be playing hockey and going to school full time at a university.
Metro and Fraser Hockeyland are hosting “Jets Hockey Fights Cancer” on Saturday, Oct. 29 when the Jets play the Toledo Cherokee at 7 p.m.
The players will wear special pink jerseys and will be auctioned during the game.
Vendor tables are available and can be reserved by emailing Nancy Krajewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.