WATERFORD, Mich. – It’s a fair assessment to say Kyle Shreve has struggled offensively this season.
Shreve himself will admit it and so will Metro Jets’ coach Justin Quenneville.
What comes in handy is the fact hockey is a team sport and as Shreve has sputtered, his teammates have more than supplied enough offense to complement Shreve’s 13 goals this season.
That’s not to say the 20-year-old Walled Lake, Mich., native isn’t having an off year – far from it.
“I personally feel he has struggled this season to find consistency, but he constantly puts himself in scoring positions,” said Quenneville. “At the end of the day, scoring 13 goals in just over 35 games is not struggling for most players."
Shreve played for the Jets in 2012-13, going at a point-per-game pace with 13 goals and 24 points in 24 games. He signed a tender agreement with the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues and made the team out of 2013 training camp, scoring three goals among nine points in 27 games before returning to Metro and tallying 13 goals in 18 games.
This season, Shreve has 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points in 36 games.
"After playoffs last season, Kyle had expressed interest to return to the team for his last season,” explained Quenneville. “Any time you can return an impact player of his caliber, you elevate your core offense. He competes hard and can shoot the puck like a pro."
“I decided to come back because I felt that ‘Q’ and (assistant coach) Randy (Wilson) put us in a great situation at the beginning of the year to go deep in the playoffs and I wanted to contribute and be a part of that,” Shreve said. “I would say I have improved defensively and of course, ‘Q’ has been a big part of that. I feel that both playing the game at a faster pace and picking up on small details gives me extra confidence. I just have to not let my emotions take control and do what I can to help the team win. We have a great group of guys and I think we're all ready for a long playoff run.”
Last spring, Shreve also played for Team East in the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, further proving he has a career in hockey well past this season.
“I just have to keep working hard and right now, I’m keeping all my options open,” said Shreve.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Metro played a staggered home-and-home series with the West Michigan Wolves last week, downing the Wolves 1-0 on Wednesday night in Battle Creek and then falling 5-4 Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.
The Jets are now tied for second place in the East Division with the Toledo Cherokee, but own the tiebreaker based on more wins than Toledo.
Wednesday, Max Vance scored the lone goal and Kam Limburg pitched a 31-save shutout.
Then Saturday, Cody Jones scored twice and Devin Kelly and newcomer Ryan Bloom added single goals. Cooper McLean chipped in two assists and Limburg and Jake Stephan combined to make 21 saves.
“Earning a split wasn't the end of the world for our club, but we feel we let one slip on Saturday,” Quenneville said. “The Wolves hung on for dear life in that game and we simply couldn't convert in the third. We ran into penalty troubles in the second that cost us and clearly didn't play to our potential. However, I am proud of the way they responded in the third and played so hard during this two-month streak.
“Now, we have the opportunity to start a new one."
The Jets (26-13-2) host the East Division’s first-place team, the Pittsburgh Vengeance, at home this Saturday night at 7:50 p.m. and then Sunday at 11:50 a.m.
After this weekend, the Jets have just four more games on the regular season schedule and just one at home – Friday, Feb. 27 against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks. Metro is in Jamestown, N.Y., for two with the Southern Tier Xpress Feb. 20-21 and then closes out the regular season Sunday, March 1 in Cleveland.
The Jets start the NA3HL playoffs the following weekend.
Just prior to last weekend, the Jets made a handful of transactions to solidify their roster ahead of the NA3HL roster freeze and trade deadline last night.
First, Bloom was acquired through a league transfer from the NAHL’s Michigan Warriors where the 19-year-old forward and Northville, Mich., native was held without a point in 15 games.
Then veteran defenseman Chris Williams was traded to the Dells Ducks of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League and backup goaltender Stephen Wroe was dealt to the NA3HL’s Gillette Wild.
“We wanted to give Wroe and ‘Willy’ a chance to play more down the stretch and they were not going to get that opportunity with us, unfortunately,” said Quenneville. “This was the best decision to make for them individually and at the end of the day, that's what this is about. In addition, we signed Bloom in the offseason, so when he made the Warriors, we knew there was always that possibility of him returning to us. He is excited to be part of a playoff team now and we are excited to add his abilities to
Williams, a 20-year-old Davison, Mich., native who was in his fifth season in the NA3HL, recorded two goals and five points in 24 games this year. Wroe, a 19-year-old Ferndale, Mich., product, was 4-1-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average, a .890 save percentage and one shutout in six games this season.
The Jets also activated defenseman Evan Wilson off of injured reserve.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Two former Jets – forward Steve Klisz and defenseman Chad Frost – are nearing the end of their freshman seasons with ACHA Division I Indiana Tech University.
Klisz has six goal and 10 points in 27 games, while Frost, an alternate captain with the Warriors, has played 23 games with one assist and a team-leading 51 penalty minutes.
A Livonia, Mich., native, Klisz led the Jets in scoring in 2011-12 with 30 goals and 67 points.
Frost played parts of two years with Metro (2011-12, 2012-13), amassing two assists in 41 games over those two stints.