WATERFORD, Mich. – Luke Thom has had a whirlwind first few weeks with the Metro Jets.
First, he was traded to the Jets before even playing a game for the North Iowa Bulls, but in getting set to leave home in Faribault, Minn., to arrive in Waterford, Thom missed his bus.
He then hopped a plane and arrived in the early-morning hours on Sept. 15 and made his Metro debut later that afternoon as the Jets lost in a shootout to the Cincinnati Swords.
“Yeah, those first 24 hours were pretty stressful, but thanks to the greatest people, it worked out,” said Thom. “Plus, it was my first time flying, so it was cool.”
Now three games into his stint with the Jets, Thom, 18, is quickly learning the team’s systems and getting acclimated to living in Macomb with fellow defenseman T.J. Krajewski and his family, along with blueliners Kenny Forton and Carter Reid.
“I haven't been around Waterford a whole lot, but Macomb is sort of similar to Faribault, but there is more driving between places here,” Thom said. “On the ice, I want to be a leader and do anything else I can do to get our team the ‘W.’ The first game went alright, but the second and third weren't pretty.”
“I think Luke is going to be a great fit this year,” said Jets’ captain Josh Beleski. “He's a great guy on and off the ice. I think he did pretty good his first three games, but I know he can do better and I think he knows that, too. In the end, I think he will be one of our top defensemen.”
And as if Thom’s time in the North American 3 Hockey League hasn’t been crazy enough, perhaps the reason he’s adjusted so well is due to what he went through at Faribault High School (pictured, Thom is on the left) the past three seasons.
”Well, I had a rough couple years in high school hockey,” Thom said. “My sophomore year, I got mononucleosis and was out most of the season. Then my junior year, I broke my ankle a few practices in and was out most of the season again. Senior year, we got a new coach and I had a lot of work to do to make up two seasons. It taught me to always make the best of any situation, like getting traded.”
After his senior year, Thom earned Big 9 All-Conference honorable mention honors and also said beating Providence Academy last season was a big highlight of his high school career.
”One way to compare hockey in Minnesota to hockey here is that at the high school level, hockey is more popular and important in Minnesota,” noted Thom.
As for his future, Thom’s goals are simple.
“In the short term, I want to see our team make the playoffs,” said Thom. “Long term, I want to play in the NAHL and then in college. My dream would obviously be play in ‘the show.’”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets saw their record fall to 3-2-1 with two losses to the Flint Jr. Generals in a home-and-home series last weekend that started at Lakeland Arena last Saturday night.
Metro trailed 2-0 early and never quite got untracked, falling 6-2 Saturday night for its first regulation loss of the young 2013-14 season.
“No positives (Saturday night),” said Metro coach Jason Cirone. “We got beat all over the ice and (Flint) took it to us. They were the better team tonight, plain and simple.”
Beleski and Nick Schultz scored in the loss, while Davide Mantovani finished with 23 saves between the pipes.
Nick Gnagni scored three goals with an assist for Flint, while Conor Durgan added a pair of goals and goaltender Nathan Klebe needed to make just 11 saves for the win.
Sunday afternoon at Iceland Arenas in Flint, Gnagni and Justin Fisher each scored two goals to pace the Jr. Generals past the Jets by a 7-1 count.
Alex Holm netted the lone goal for the Jets and goaltender Kameron Limburg made 34 saves.
Durgan added a goal and three assists for Flint and Klebe stopped 21 shots between the pipes.
The Jets host the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks for a pair this weekend at Lakeland. Puck drop is 7:50 p.m. Saturday night and 11:50 a.m. on Sunday.
“To be completely honest, I don’t think anything went right in the two games (against Flint),” Beleski said. “We were bad all around and embarrassed ourselves last weekend, but we will be better this weekend against Cleveland.”
Reid, who made his Jets’ debut in the Flint series, is the younger brother of former Metro defenseman Adam Reid, who skated in Waterford during the 2011-12 season … Mantovani had to wait until the fifth game of the season to play due to his transfer papers from the Italian Ice Hockey Federation being approved by USA Hockey.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Brian Skulley, who played for the Jets during the 1991-92 season, was at Lakeland Arena last weekend for a youth hockey tournament.
Skulley is now a head coach with the Kensington Valley Hockey Association, guiding the Bantam AA Rebels’ team this season.