FRASER, Mich. – Last summer, things pretty much fell into place for Jason Recchia.
A three-year defenseman for the Troy Sting youth program, Recchia found out that the Metro Jets were uprooting from Waterford’s Lakeland Arena to Fraser Hockeyland, mere miles from his home in Shelby Township.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to see if I had what it takes to play at the next level, so I tried out,” said Recchia.
Now more than midway through the NA3HL season, the 19-year-old Recchia is playing valuable minutes on the Metro blue line and in 25 games, has a goal and 12 points with a plus-33 plus-minus rating.
“I came into the season with high expectations to be a strong team all year and so far, we have proved that we are one of the best in the league, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Recchia said. “I come to the rink every day and work as hard as I can so I can help this team keep winning games.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said Recchia came to the summer skates and tryouts with a willingness to learn the junior style of game and he’s been impressed with how Recchia has developed this season.
"Jason was a player that we had known about through a local friend and head coach of the Sting, Brian Godbout,” explained Quenneville. “It's a reputable program and you know players get good coaching. He really impressed our staff at camp and has continued to do so very week. He plays with an edge at his smaller size (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) and sees the ice extremely well. It's been fun watching him progress throughout the season and continues to bring consistency to our lineup every night. He leads our team in plus-minus for a reason and is on pace with leaders in the league."
With the Sting and other area travel hockey programs, Recchia won two state championships and has been to nationals on three occasions, taking third once. He also played for Henry Ford II High School’s varsity team as a freshman.
With the Jets, Recchia said this year’s team has a certain vibe about it.
“We are definitely brothers,” said Recchia. “There is never a stale moment in the locker room or during practice. There is no doubt that this is one of the closest group of guys I've ever played with.”
Like the rest of the Jets, Recchia wants to win the Silver Cup in April and after that, see what options he has.
Off the ice, Recchia said he hasn’t thought about a future career, but “something in business or a cop” are possibilities.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
In their first games since the NA3HL Showcase in late December, the Jets traveled to Pittsburgh last weekend and won two close games over the Vengeance, both by 6-5 scores.
Then last night, Metro routed the West Michigan Wolves 11-1 in Battle Creek.
Saturday night, Pittsburgh scored three goals late in the third, but the Jets held off the late push and escaped with the win.
Mathias Tellstrom recorded a goal and three assists, Michael Tratar and Kevin Shand posted a goal and two assists apiece and Dylan Naumovski, David Chavis II and Pearce Vance also scored.
“It was great to finally play a game again after the holiday break,” said Tellstrom. “I think we played solid for 55 minutes with a lot of shots, goals and we played good defensively, but we lost our heads the last five minutes and we conceded three goals, but we were able to still get two points in regulation time, which is all that matters in the end.”
Kam Limburg made 18 saves in the Metro cage.
“Disappointing finish to a well-executed game,” added Quenneville. “We just played immature the last few minutes and they got a lucky bounce to make it a three-goal game. From there, we just needed our group to make a good play or get a good save, and we didn't it. At the end of the day, we took valuable points on the road. We have quite a streak of wins here, so some of those won't always go your way.”
Then Sunday afternoon, Pittsburgh had a 5-3 lead late in the third period, but Jacob Rutkoske (11:31), Naumovski (12:41) and Tellstrom (15:14) completed the comeback for the Jets.
Tellstrom added another goal and three helpers for a five-point game and Shand scored two goals with two assists. Tratar pitched in with three assists.
“Big sweep coming off of break,” said Jets goalie Austin Kane, who finished with 26 saves. “Sunday's win was a huge comeback win. We aren’t usually down going into the third period, so it was a challenge for us and we pulled through. There were a couple mistakes through the weekend, but the important thing is we got the wins. A win is a win.”
"We played a strange game Sunday where we controlled and outplayed them throughout, but made a few mistakes where they capitalized,” noted Quenneville. “It wasn't the cleanest win, but it was a character third period to score three big goals and hold them off. No wins are easy wins in our division.”
The Jets jumped out to a 3-0 lead just over seven minutes into the first period and never looked back, defeating the Wolves 11-1 Wednesday night at The Rink.
Metro’s top line did most of the damage as Tellstrom recorded three goals and three assists, Shand two goals and three assists and Tratar a goal and four helpers.
Limburg finished with 32 saves between the pipes for the Jets.
“Not your typical East Division game tonight, but we got contributions from everyone, which is always good to see,” said Quenneville. “Kam did a good job making saves when he was tested and ‘Trats,’ Shand and ‘Telly’ were big again tonight. You expect the Wolves to be better Saturday, so we will take the two points and get ready for Saturday."
Chavis, Chase Sereno and Chas Distelrath each posted a goal and an assist, while Cam Schwartz and Devin Kelly scored one apiece as Metro went 3-for-9 on the power play.
“Overall, it was a great night,” Schwartz said. “All lines were playing great. We all saw the ice pretty well and had some great passing out there. Kam played great when we needed him to. This win felt great and the boys were happy the way this game turned out. We can't expect to get a win like this Saturday, though. Being focused during practice is going to be our No. 1 priority and coming out strong Saturday is another thing we're trying to accomplish.”
Naumovski and Jacob Drinkard added two assists each.
The Jets (25-3-2, first place in the East Division) now get set to return to The Rink on Saturday night at 7 p.m. for another game with the Wolves.
On Saturday, Jan. 23 for the Jets’ game against the Wooster Oilers at 7:30 p.m., the team will honor all military and first responders for Heroes Night at Fraser Hockeyland.
The night will feature the Fraser DPS, Jets own and former captain Josh Beleski (Navy), Jets hockey mom Misty Martin (Army), Rob McLean (Air Force and a Michigan State Trooper) and Josh Dewitt (Marines), plus a World War II veterans group.
There will be two ceremonial puck drops, one for Fraser with Mayor Doug Hagerty and one for the military representatives.
Richards Middle School will be performing the national anthem and more tunes over the course of the evening.
Fans will also get to see the Star Warrior piece that honors all military with a star cut from a decommissioned American flag.
Tickets are just $5. Order online at www.metrojetshockeytickets.com or purchase at the gate starting at 6:30 p.m.
The night is sponsored by KOZ Heating and Cooling and Adams Complete Cleaning.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Check out the Jets extensive list of alumni at all levels of hockey at THIS LINK.