FRASER, Mich. – The Metro Jets continue to emerge as a developmental factory for higher levels of the game as this week, goaltender Jacob Gwillim will join the Brookings Blizzard of the North American Hockey League.
Gwillim, who played all of 2014-15 with the NAHL’s Johnstown Tomahawks (pictured) and the start of this season in Johnstown before joining the Jets in December, is elated at getting another opportunity in the NAHL.
“I'm very thankful for Brookings for giving me this opportunity and my job coming in is to give the team the best possible chance to win every night,” said the 18-year-old native of Swartz Creek, Mich. “If I can do this and keep having fun, it should be a good ride. I'm very excited to be a part of their program. I think being a veteran player will help me out when I'm there. I've been in the league before and played my share of games, so I know what to expect and what I need to do every day.”
Originally drafted by the Jets in 2014 out of the Lansing Capitals AAA organization, Gwillim went 2-0-0 with two shutouts in three appearances with the Jets. He also fashioned a .944 save percentage and a 1.60 goals-against average.
“My time with the Jets will be something I'll never forget,” added Gwillim. “I was able to come here, get quality coaching, practice and game time and really work on my game with coach (Randy) Wilson. He really made an impact in such a short amount of time. The team is one of the best group of guys I've been a part of and going to the rink every day, I knew I was going to have fun, which I think is the most important thing. If you aren't having fun it isn't worth it. Every coach here provided me the tools and advice I needed to further my game every day.
“The organization as a whole is first-class and one of, if not the best I've played for.”
Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville said seeing Gwillim move to the NAHL is exactly what the Jets organization is all about.
“We have known Jake for a couple years dating back to the draft two summers ago when he was playing for Lansing,” said Quenneville. “He is a character kid who has the abilities to play at the highest of levels. At the end of the day, this was an opportunity for Jake and us when he reported. This call-up to the NAHL is just another example of why our league is the premier advancement level in the country. We are excited for him as much as he is for us moving forward.”
Gwillim joins forwards Mathias Tellstrom (Kenai River Brown Bears) and Carter Woolley (Aston Rebels) and defensemen Stefan Boskovic (Aston), David Chavis II (Aston) and Marc Schwartz (Aston) as call-ups to NAHL clubs this season.
Last summer, forward Ryan Bloom was the lone NA3HL player selected in the NAHL Entry Draft and he’s been with the Minnesota Wilderness all season.
In addition, Metro also moved forwards Alex Holm (NCAA Division III Finlandia University), Cody Jones (ACHA Adrian College) and Cooper McLean (ACHA Adrian College) and defensemen Tyler Layle (ACHA Aquinas College) to college programs for the 2015-16 season.
Two other players – forwards Pearce Vance (Aston) and Devin Kelly (Topeka RoadRunners) – signed NAHL tender agreements last offseason.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
After running the table at the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., three weeks ago with wins over the Alexandria Blizzard, Rochester Ice Hawks and Billings Bulls, the Jets (22-3-2) play on the road against the Pittsburgh Vengeance this weekend.
Game time Saturday night is 6:30 p.m., followed by an 11:40 a.m. start Sunday.
Metro’s next home game isn’t until Saturday, Jan. 23, against the Wooster Oilers for Heroes and Military Night. Military personnel and first responders will be admitted free to the game with valid ID and will be recognized in a pre-game presentation.
The Fraser Department of Public Safety will also take part in pre-game ceremonies.
The Jets players will also don special camouflage-style jerseys for the game and the Richards Middle School choir will also sing the national anthem.
Boskovic will travel to his home country of Serbia this week to play in the Division 2B IIHF World Junior Championship from Jan. 17-23.
“This is a great opportunity for Stefan and we are proud of him,” said Quenneville. “He will join us later in the month and we will be rooting for him during his absence. He will have to use his feet and size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) to contribute at that level and I know he will represent the Jets proudly.”
In 10 games this season with the Jets, the 19-year-old Boskovic has one goal and nine points, in addition to a plus-6 rating.
“I am looking forward to going home to see family and play for my country,” noted Boskovic. “I am grateful for what I am learning with Metro and can't wait to get back at the end of the month.”
Former Jets goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, now with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara Ice Dogs and a signed Carolina Hurricanes prospect, won bronze Tuesday with the U.S. National Junior Team at the World Junior Championship in Helsinki.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Check out the Jets extensive list of alumni at all levels of hockey at THIS LINK.