WATERFORD, Mich. – Justin Quenneville has been behind the Metro Jets’ bench a little more than two months and while the players say they have adjusted to his coaching style, the same can be said for Quenneville in regards to the players.
A former pro player and coach in the North American Hockey League, Quenneville took over Sept. 30 when Jason Cirone stepped down to start up the new ACHA Division I program at Midland College in Fremont, Neb.
Quenneville inherited a group of players that he said show heart, character and a willingness to compete on a daily basis, but haven’t seen results consistently on the scoreboard.
“We have to find a way to compete night in and night out for 60 minutes,” said Quenneville. “We’re doing a better job at that, but it would be nice to get rewarded at the end of the night. We’re just going to keep finding ways to tweak and get those goals where we can find them.”
Getting acclimated to the North American 3 Hockey League level of play has been a smooth transition for Quenneville and he said it all boils down to one simple passion.
“I enjoy the game,” Quenneville said. “It’s so hard to not want to see kids succeed. You not only have to develop them and teach, but a lot of our job is to develop them as young men, too. That’s been the biggest adjustment for me, is that a lot of these kids aren’t that far off (from progressing to higher levels of hockey). There’s a reason these kids are here and everyone’s got their story, but you still have to be able to succeed at the level you’re in and show you don’t deserve to play here.
“The biggest thing for me is that night in and night out during games, not only do you have to compete, but play at the level you want to be at, not at the level you’re at, which will show for good habits. I think the learning curve takes a little longer here, but that’s the rewarding part. We’ve beaten some big teams and had some big games since I’ve been here.”
At the end of the day, Quenneville stresses the old adage of hard work paying off and that couldn’t be more true in Waterford.
“I love the guys and I want to see them get rewarded for their hard work,” said Quenneville. “If we can continue to head in the right direction, we’ll up that learning curve.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets were idle last weekend after going 1-3 at the NA3HL Showcase in Romeoville, Ill., two weekends ago.
This weekend, Metro hosts the Pittsburgh Vengeance for two games at Lakeland Arena that will have an emotional feel to them.
Back on November 16, Vengeance forward Kevin Kenny sustained a severe spinal cord injury in a game against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.
After two surgeries, Kevin remains in the hospital where he’ll continue to be cared for and monitored until enough time passes to allow for a more thorough diagnosis.
With the Vengeance in town this weekend, all gate proceeds from the two games will be directly donated to the Kenny family to help offset the growing medical bills.
Donations will also be taken by the Jets’ staff.
Game times are Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7:50 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8 at 11:50 a.m.
Forward Cooper McLean scored goals in three straight games at the Showcase.
In the finale of the Showcase, Jets’ defenseman Brad Hepler scored in the final minute to tie the game and then Alex Holm netted the overtime winner to lift Metro past the Minnesota Flying Aces 6-5 on Nov. 25.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Devin Williams was named the OHL Goaltender of the Month for November after posting a perfect 9-0-0-0 record, including two shutout victories while earning a goals-against average of 1.95 and save percentage of .925.
Williams made 196 saves last month and helped the Erie Otters climb to first place in the OHL standings where they currently hold a 23-4-1-0 record.
He began the month with a 28-save performance, earning first star honors with his second shutout of the season Nov. 2 in a 6-0 win over the Niagara IceDogs. He also claimed first star honors on Nov. 15 with 18 saves as part of a 3-0 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Williams, an 18-year-old from Saginaw, Mich., is playing in his third OHL season with the Otters.
Eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, Williams is tied for the OHL lead with three shutouts and has an overall record of 11-1-0-0. He ranks fifth in the league with a goals-against average of 2.56 and carries a .905 save percentage in 12 games.
Williams played for the Jets during the 2011-12 season, going 9-9-0 with a 3.88 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage.