WATERFORD, Mich. – The Metro Jets tempted superstition not once, but twice in their pursuit of Tyler Layle.
First, the Jets selected the rangy defenseman in the first round with the 13th overall pick of the 2013 North American 3 Hockey League draft.
After not reporting to Metro, the Jets drafted Layle again this past June.
In the first round.
Only difference was this year, Layle decided the Jets and the NA3HL were best for his development after spending a year playing ACHA hockey at Davenport University.
“Last year at Davenport, I had a lot of fun I met a lot of new people,” said Layle, a 19-year-old from Grandville, Mich. “The hockey was fun and the atmosphere was great. I left because I was still unaware of what I wanted to study there and I thought a year or two of juniors would give me a lot of time to think about my future. A majority of my teammates played junior hockey and recommended I should step away and play until I age out of the league. I left Davenport looking for time to think about my future and possibly looking for an opportunity to play at higher levels of the sport.”
Now a steady presence on the Jets’ back end, the 6-foot, 220-pound Layle has potted five goals and six assists for 11 points while playing in all 20 games this season. He scored three power-play goals in an 8-5 win against Southern Tier back on Oct. 25.
“My role this year, I believe, is to help make our defensive core stronger and deeper,” Layle said. “I came onto the team with only two league veteran defensemen and everyone else on the defensive side are new to the league. I think with the help of our coaches and veteran defensemen, our ‘D’ core has gotten a lot stronger and will continue to do so.”
“(Jets’ assistant coach) Randy (Wilson) and I had the opportunity to bring Tyler out for skates in the summer and his skill set was evident,” said Jets’ head coach Justin Quenneville. “He has one of the hardest shots in junior hockey. His release point is impressive for his age and of late, he is finding success on the stat sheet. Tyler had a lot of work to do to get into game shape and he is continuing on that path to be a more complete defenseman.”
Layle said that the mood around the team is very positive and with the Jets (12-8-0, third place) being in contention all season long in the always-tough East Division, team chemistry keeps getting better and better.
“I look forward to getting to the rink every morning for practice and games because the atmosphere on and off the ice is one of the best,” said Layle. “We have a lot of fun and jokes that go around the room.”
In the future, Layle is looking at more options to return to college hockey, but in the meantime, he wants to see Metro move up the East standings and get every win possible.
“I think with the talent we have from the front to back of our team, we can easily win our division and the league,” Layle boasted. “We have guys that can put the puck in the net and guys who can keep the puck out of our net.
“Personally, my long term goal is to play as long as possible. That's another reason why I came to play junior hockey, to make my career longer and I would love to play anywhere for as long as I can. The game is something that will always be a part of my life.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets sat idle last weekend, but play the Toledo Cherokee in a home-and-home series this weekend, starting Friday night at the Team Toledo Ice House at 7 p.m. and finishing up at Lakeland Arena Saturday night for a 7:50 p.m. puck drop.
Toledo, one point ahead of Metro in the East standings, handed the Jets their lone home loss of the season in a 4-1 decision back on Sept. 12.
The weekend series will also mark the return of forward Kyle Downey, who was dealt to Toledo on Oct. 31 for future considerations.
“These are our last two division games before the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine, Minn. (on Dec. 7-9),” Quenneville said. “Toledo has been playing some strong hockey of late and we will need to bring our ‘A’ game to compete for points this weekend. We are not looking past Friday night in Toledo, and in order for us to find success on the road, we will need to have strong puck management and be disciplined.”
Metro captain David Chavis II, called up last week to the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness, was held without a point in two games last weekend against the Minot Minotauros.
Chavis saw increased ice time over the weekend and remains with the Wilderness.
Jets’ forward Matt Dempsey, who also earned a call-up, to the NAHL’s Keystone Ice Miners, did not see game action in two games versus the Soo Eagles and has been returned to the Jets.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Dave Hague, a defenseman who played for the Jets during the 1998-99 season, was the head coach at Oxford High School for 10 seasons before stepping down after the 2012-13 season.
After playing for the Jets, the 34-year-old Lake Orion, Mich., native skated a season in the NAHL for the St. Louis Sting, putting up five assists in 26 games in 1999-2000.
Hague had several colleges after him, but concussion issues forced him to retire at the age of 20.