FRASER, Mich. – The third time was indeed the charm for Chas Distelrath.
After losing in the high school state finals in 2013 and 2014 with Hartland High School (pictured), Distelrath was part of the Metro Jets 2014-15 NA3HL East Division championship team as a rookie forward.
This season, he wants more hardware – the Silver Cup.
The 19-year-old Distelrath has notched five goals and eight points in 11 games this year after totaling just two goals in 10 games a year ago.
“My main reason for coming back this year is to give me a better opportunity for college,” said Distelrath. “I think the difference between this year and last year is that I've been given more of an opportunity to play and it's been showing on the stat sheet.”
“Chas has come a long way since last year and he's proving to be a key component to the lineup,” said Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “He is a prime example of a player who has put in his time, developed and bought in to the process.”
In high school, Hartland fell to Livonia Stevenson (and current Metro forward Devin Kelly) in 2013 and then lost to Trenton (and former Jets forward Andrew Sawyer) in 2014.
Now having adjusted to junior hockey, Distelrath is elated with the path he chose to develop his game.
“Our team chemistry this year is unbelievable,” said Distelrath. “Everyone has been getting along great and I think you can see that on the ice. We just stay positive and loose before every game and know when we get to the rink we have a job to do that night.”
After junior hockey, Distelrath said a long-term goal of his is to play college hockey “and see where it takes me.”
“When I get older I hope to become a high school teacher,” added Distelrath. “I’m still trying to figure out what subject I'll want to teach.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Metro picked up four points last weekend in completing a home-and-home sweep of the Toledo Cherokee.
The Jets scored a goal in every period and defeated the Cherokee 3-1 Friday night at the Team Toledo Ice House before scoring a 4-2 win back at Fraser Hockeyland on Halloween.
Distelrath tallied in the first period, Jason Recchia’s goal in the second proved to be the game-winner and then Jacob Drinkard sealed the game with an empty-netter in the waning seconds of the third period Friday night.
“We controlled the pace and played a strong possession game tonight,” Quenneville said. “Credit to their goaltender for keeping them in the game, but I am happy how the guys played hard in all three zones."
Toledo netminder Glen Bates finished with 35 saves and Tristin Snyder scored the lone Cherokee goal, which actually opened the scoring early in the first period.
Michael Latorella made his debut in the Jets net and stopped 22 shots for his first NA3HL win.
“I thought that we played really good,” said Recchia. “Knowing Toledo hadn't lost at home gave us extra motivation to give it our all and come out with the win.”
Marc Schwartz’s power-play goal at 17:45 of the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and the Jets went on to down Toledo Saturday night to finish off the sweep.
With the two wins, the first-place Jets now lead second-place Toledo by seven points in the NA3HL East Division standings.
“I liked how we competed and that was another full, 60-minute effort tonight,” Quenneville said. “Can’t ask for more – the kids really wanted it and did the little things to earn it. We need wins like that, the wins where you have to fight down to the wire to get. To get a goal like that on the PP and to grind it out, it’s just huge for us.”
After a scoreless first period, Kevin Shand and Jason Newel scored 31 seconds apart early in the second period, only to have Toledo answer with two before the end of the period.
A tight third period set the stage for Schwartz.
“At first, we had pressure right to the net and the puck went off to the corner,” explained Schwartz. “I got the pass and I just walked hard to the middle and got in on net.”
Metro captain Matt Dempsey added an empty-netter at 18:42 to ice the game.
Kam Limburg picked up the win in goal with a 23-save effort.
“We didn’t let Toledo get the momentum after the second period and we just came out hard and played our game,” said Limburg. “I thought I played well today. I thought I was soft with the puck, lot of whistles, and made the saves I had to make when we needed them.”
Bates finished with 38 saves and Tyler Zalecki notched a goal and an assist for Toledo.
The Jets (12-2-0-1) now get set to host the Southern Tier Xpress this coming weekend back at Fraser. Game time Saturday night is 7:30 p.m., followed by a 12:30 p.m. puck drop Sunday.
“We can’t let off the pedal and we need to keep pushing,” Quenneville said. “We have to get ready and refocused because Southern Tier is in the bottom of the standings, but they’re still going to come out and push. We can’t afford to take any breaks here and we’ll keep going.”
Tickets for all Jets home games are available at the ticket office on game day starting at 6 p.m. for $5 or by emailing Nancy Krajewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come to the ticket office on Tuesday nights from 6-8 p.m. and get tickets for any home game for just $2.
After not scoring a goal Oct. 21 against West Michigan, Shand’s goal Oct. 31 against Toledo gave him at least one goal in six of seven Metro home games this season.
Forward Carter Woolley, who played three games for the Jets this season after starting the year with the NAHL’s Aston Rebels, has been recalled by Aston and will be with the Rebels for their games this coming weekend.
Woolley posted one goal for the Jets and finished plus-1 with four penalty minutes.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Former Jets defenseman Vinnie Pietrangelo, who played for the Jets in 2009-10 after being their first-round pick in the 2009 CSHL draft, is now a volunteer assistant coach with NCAA Division I Ferris State University of the WCHA.
Pietrangelo tallied a goal and nine points in 47 games with the Jets during the 2009-2010 season and went on to play two seasons at NCAA Division III Finlandia University.
Pietrangelo’s third cousin, Alex Pietrangelo, is an alternate captain with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and Vinnie’s father, Tony, is third cousins with Alex's uncle, Frank Pietrangelo, himself a former NHL goaltender with Pittsburgh and Hartford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.