FRASER, Mich. – What’s not to like about Griffin Sawyer?
The captain of the Metro Jets, Sawyer has an infectious personality and always has a positive aura about him.
On the ice, the 19-year-old Trenton native always gives better than 100 percent – one of the reasons he earned the ‘C’ this season.
Last season as a rookie, Sawyer popped 17 goals among 42 points in 46 games.
Sawyer didn’t hesitate when presented with the option to come back to the Jets for the 2017-18 season. Through eight games this year, Sawyer has compiled 12 points on five goals and seven assists, averaging better than a point per game.
“I was very excited to be able to come back for another year,” said Sawyer. “To get the chance to play for ‘Q’ and the Metro Jets is something I don’t take for granted. I woke up every day this past offseason looking forward to the first day of camp.”
This season, Sawyer has played on a forward line with Connor Inger and Mathieu LaForest.
“The chemistry with my linemates has been good,” Sawyer said. “Connor and Matty have both played strong with me and have made my job easier on the ice. They help take some of the pressure off of myself and produce in their own ways.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville has seen Sawyer improve both on and off the ice over the past 14 months.
“Once in a while, a coach comes across a special player that encompasses true leadership qualities,” said Quenneville. “Griff is a leader by example, on and off the ice – not only a player with high character, but high hockey IQ and a team-first guy. He brings those characteristics to the rink every day, and our guys feed off it. He has a bright future and I look forward to continue to work with him on achieving his goals.”
During the 2016-17 campaign, Sawyer looked up to the Jets’ captains – Graham Day, Jason Recchia, Dylan Naumovski and Marc Schwartz – and while he has served as captain for many of his youth teams and at Trenton High School, said last year was a learning experience.
“The captains were great guys last year and they each taught me something different about the game,” Sawyer said. “There have been some big footsteps to be filled. I appreciate all their hard work into the team, and I hope I can continue to do so this year.
“I’ve been humbled to have the opportunity to wear the ‘C’ for pretty much every team I’ve ever played for. From youth hockey to high school and now to junior hockey, I’ve been lucky enough to say I’ve been a captain. I think that I can connect with my teammates in a personal way and earn their trust and respect, and that’s why I’ve been able to be a leader for so many times.”
So are there added expectations as captain?
“I mean, of course there’s a little added pressure because there’s so many expectations from everyone on the team and in the stands, but I love it,” said Sawyer. “I strive off of pressure and enjoy the responsibilities that come with it. It pushes me to make sure I’m giving my best, every chance I get.”
Being part of the 2016-17 Jets that went 47-0-0 during the regular season and advanced to their third straight Silver Cup (now Fraser Cup) National Championship was a fantastic introduction to junior hockey, but it only serves as a memory nowadays.
“Last year was special and it was so cool to have my own role to help the team,” said Sawyer. “With that being said, it’s in the past and I couldn’t be more excited to keep things going with the new group of guys. I think everyone is still learning and developing to junior hockey, but there are a lot of positives about the team we have this year.”
Back in 2014-15, Sawyer’s older brother, Andrew, played for the Jets and was another instance where Griffin knew he made the right choice with hockey.
“I started skating when I was two years old and have been in love ever since,” Sawyer said. “The feeling I get when I step onto the ice is something I cannot explain. My brother and I have both been rink rats our entire life. My parents have been nothing but supportive of me and Andy’s hockey career and allowed us to chase our dream. It’s hard to imagine my life without hockey in it.”
Will there be hockey down the line once junior hockey comes to a close?
“I would love to be able to play hockey at the college and professional levels one day,” said Sawyer. “After that, I want to stay involved with the game by coaching and giving back to the sport that has made me who I am, but as of right now, I’m taking it day by day and trying to be the best Griffin Sawyer I can be.
“I’m blessed to be able to wake up every day and play the game I love. I’m thankful for all my opportunities and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.”