It’s the old adage that if one were to look up the word “captain” in the dictionary, a picture of Matt Stirling would be on that page.
Then again, in today’s age of technology, simply Google the word “captain” and up comes photos and stories about Stirling.
What else can be said of a player who plays every position but goalie and leads the North American 3 Hockey League in scoring?
“I don’t know what I’ve asked Matt to do that he hasn’t done because he does everything,” said Metro coach Jason Cirone. “He plays up front, he plays defense and he does it with no fanfare or complaints. He just does it. I don’t know what more I can say about the kid other than he’s been outstanding for us.”
Now in his third year with the Jets, Stirling was an alternate captain his first two seasons with the club and was the obvious choice this season to assume the captaincy.
“The ‘C’ didn’t change a whole lot of things from the previous games I have played at this level and as a player, I think it is more what you do on and off the ice than what is on your jersey,” said Stirling.
After winning their first two games of the season against Battle Creek, the Jets have dropped their past four going into this weekend’s home-and-home series with Toledo.
During a losing skid is where a player’s character and maturity can shine and Stirling has stepped up to show why he is the Jets’ ultimate role model.
“To an extent, I think frustration is starting to set in because we know what we are capable of and how good we can be, but we have come up short the past two weekends one way or another,” said Stirling, a 20-year-old Dexter native. “As far as keeping the team focused, the veteran guys assist me and try to keep everyone level-headed. The highs can’t be too high and the lows can’t be too low. The only way to really get out of this skid we are in is to keep working hard in practice and continue to improve as a team.”
This week, Stirling, who is tied for the NA3HL scoring lead with 12 points (three goals, nine assists), was named the league’s top forward for the month of September.
Stirling scored in all but one of the games during the month, which included four multi-point games. He had a six-point weekend during the Jets’ first two games of the year and last weekend, Stirling recorded five points in the weekend series against Three Rivers.
“At this point, Matt has been our MVP,” said Cirone. “That is largely because we have used him in every type of situation imaginable. He has tremendous work ethic, determination and now in his third season with us, is a great leader. He is not a loud, outspoken guy, but he definitely leads by example.”
With Toledo on tap, Stirling wants to rejuvenate the Jets and get back to .500.
“Toledo is another tough team to play, especially in Toledo,” Stirling said. “These types of games are the ones that you need to help establish yourself in your division. Giving up eight points in the last two weekends is not good and we need to win this weekend.”
After this season, Stirling is hoping to find a college that will be able to offer a top-notch academic program and a high level of hockey.
“Matt is a kid that exemplifies what a student-athlete should be,” added Cirone. “He’s a kid that is an exemplary student and not much more can be said as to what he can do on the ice. Matt has a bright future and it will be fun to track his progress.”