WATERFORD, MI – Dave Ross may just be the Metro Jets’ MVP this season.
And he hasn’t set one foot on the ice all year.
As the team’s athletic trainer, much of what Ross does goes unnoticed, but then again, if he didn’t do his job, the team wouldn’t be able to stick together – literally.
“Yeah, I guess you could say I keep each player in one piece,” said Ross, who has been a physical therapist for 25 years and has a clinic in Clarkston. “It’s a long season and these kids get banged up, so I see a lot of shoulder and knee injuries that require immediate attention. The thing about this season that is so different about past years is that the kids are responding to what I ask them to do and by doing that, they heal quicker and can get back on the ice.
“All I can do is treat them and give them exercises to do, so after I see them, it’s on them. These are all good kids and they all have a different attitude this year. It’s very refreshing to see.”
Ross is on the bench for all Jets’ home games and is almost always on the move.
“Knee and shoulder injuries are the most common and dealing with knees is probably the hardest and one that requires a lot of therapy,” Ross said. “You can skate with a bad shoulder; you can’t skate with a bad knee.”
With the onus these days on safety and hockey and concussion prevention, Ross is on board with all the new safety measures, but cautions that no equipment is 100 percent going to prevent injuries.
“Hockey is a tough sport and guys are crashing and banging into each other all game long,” said Ross. No helmet will protect you from a hit. Look at Sidney Crosby. He was out almost a year and then when he comes back, he gets hit by his own player and is out again. You have to take your time with concussions.”
Now in his fifth season with the Jets, Ross likes what he sees on the ice this year and can’t help but be a fan of the marked improvement this season.
“These kids want to win and they want to get better,” said Ross. “(Metro coach) Jason (Cirone) has done a fantastic job with these kids and it shows. I think we’re in for a great finish this season.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Cameron Mackey, just signed earlier in the day, scored a power-play goal at 13:45of the third period to snap a 5-5 tie and the Jets held on for a 6-5 win last Saturday night over the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks at Lakeland Arena.
The teams traded goals in the third period after the game was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes.
"I told the kids right from day one when we won 8-7 inovertime against Flint that if we're going to run and gun, make sure you got the bigger gun and you come out on top," said Cirone. "I was talking with the ref before the game and he asked what kind of game we should expect and I told him there would be a lot of goals. Both teams are offensively-gifted and the game was what it was."
Steve Kliszscored twice to up his team-best total to 27 and Justin Shureb also added a pair with an assist for the Jets (21-14-0-1). Cameron Bruff scored the other Metro goal.
Another player making his Jets' debut, Trevor Bardallis, chipped in two assists, as did Cameron Bazin and Mike MacKinnon.
Dillon Kelleyearned the win in goal with a 29-save outing.
"I thought both goalies struggled a bit and maybe stopped the shots that should have been goals and allowed goals they could have stopped," said Cirone. "You'll have games like that and tonight was one of those games."
L.J. Dvorak stopped 29 shots for Cleveland, who got goals from five different skaters.
The Jets have now won six straight at home, but don't return to Lakelanduntil Feb. 25-26 for a two-game set with the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins. Next weekend, Metro plays a pair on the road against the Michigan Mountain Cats and the following weekend will play four games in four days as part of the NA3HL East Showcase at the TroySportsCenter.
"No game is ever easy in this league," added Cirone. "We haven't had an easy game all year. I think our kids work and earn everything they get. What's considered an easy game nowadays?"
Mackey and Bardallis suited up last week at practice and debuted against Cleveland.
Both are local forwards (Mackey is from Commerce, Bardallis from Waterford) and both made an immediate impact last weekend. Bardallis turned 19 at the beginning of December and Mackey is 20.
“Mackey just kind of showed up one day at practice and he asked if he could skate and we went from there,” explained Cirone. “I worked with Bardallis last summer at Puckmasters helping him get in shape and stuff like that. He was out in the EJHL, but had some family issues and wanted to come home and be closer to his family. He sent me an email, I told him to come out to practice that night and here we are.”
Bardallis was tendered last season by the NAHL’s New Mexico Mustangs, but didn’t make the team this year and wound up skating with the EJHL’s Bay State Breakers and Capital District Selects.
Forward Chris Hellebuyck has re-joined the Jets after a stint in the NAHL with the Odessa Jackalopes.
Hellebuyck went without a point in five games with Odessa. He’s currently third in Jets’ scoring with 40 points and his 21 goals are second on the team behind Klisz.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Seth Giersdorf, a forward on the Jets’ 1999-2000 team, is still in the area, living in Canton and working as a regional director for Sterling Management, overseeing real estate properties in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Giersdorf has been married to his wife, Meghan, the niece of his host family when he played for the Jets, for 7 ½ years.
Giersdorf came to the Jets from Coral Springs, Fla., but is originally from Beulah, N.D.