When the Metro Jets made a trade with Cleveland to obtain forward Jeff Monfils at the end of August, it didn’t garner much attention.
Now 10 games into the season, the NA3HL is paying attention.
Monfils, a 20-year-old from Washington who played from 2010-12 in Cleveland, has quietly averaged a point per game with the Jets with his confident play and veteran leadership on and off the ice.
And to think that after the 2011-12 season with the Jr. Lumberjacks, Monfils wasn’t sure he wanted to come back to the NA3HL.
“To be honest, I wasn't planning on playing juniors again, but things didn't work out so I decided real late to play again and Metro was a better fit for me, so I knew the trade was coming,” said Monfils. “I feel I fit in really well with the other guys. The minute I came in the locker room, I felt like I was there all year. We're all pretty close.
“I also stayed in the league again because I have one year left of juniors and I feel like it would get me more exposure to colleges so I can move up and hopefully play college hockey some place next season.”
Being a leader on what is one of the youngest Jets’ teams in recent memory can be a challenge, but one that Metro captain Matt Stirling said Monfils has met with no complaints.
“Monfils has fit in well,” said Stirling. “He’s an older guy who knows what it takes to play in this league. He brings his leadership over from Cleveland last year and fits well with the guys up front as he puts up solid numbers for us every weekend. Monfils has also been a big help in assisting me lead the team this year.”
This past week, Monfils was named the NA3HL 2nd Star of the Week for his four-point weekend against Quad City last weekend. The two wins at Lakeland Arena snapped a six-game losing streak for the Jets and got them back into the win column for the first time since opening weekend when the Jets took both games from Battle Creek.
In the first game against Quad City, Monfils netted the game-winner and then on Sunday afternoon, he assisted on Travis Hargett’s game-winner late in the third period.
“When we traded for Jeff in the offseason from Cleveland, we knew we needed a team leader and he showed why this weekend,” said Jets’ coach Jason Cirone. “He is playing on a line with two of the younger players (Alex Holm and 2012 first-round pick Mike Gambino) and has really helped them along.”
Spoken in true leader form, Monfils said this season isn’t about individual stats for himself.
”From a personal standpoint, my goal for this year is to do whatever I can to help my team win,” said Monfils. “From a team standpoint, the goal is obviously to win the league.”
Even in the midst of the six-game skid, Monfils showed why he is an alternate captain for the Jets this season.
”Everyone each day would work harder and harder at practice during our losing streak,” explained Monfils. “Everyone wanted to push each other harder so we could turn that around. The veterans of the team are looked up upon by the younger guys, so we all have to set good examples and keep reminding them that it's just a game.”
And the Jets are happy he’s on their side.