WATERFORD, MI – Andrew Shalawylo knows his role is as a defensive defenseman with the Metro Jets and by doing that, he doesn’t get noticed a whole lot during games.
And that’s just fine with the 19-year-old from Clinton Township.
“I've never been a very flashy player,” admitted Shalawylo, a second-year skater with the Jets. “My goal isn't to put up a lot of points because I know that's not my skill set. I'm not a guy that's going to produce a lot of offense directly, but I try to be as solid defensively as I can and initiate that first play that develops into something someone else turns into a scoring opportunity.”
In 30 games this year, Shalawylo has posted three assists. Last year, he went pointless in 32 contests. Personal stats aside, Shalawylo would rather turn his attention to the turnaround season the Jets have had this year.
”I just want to win,” Shalawylo said. “We have a team that can do it and I want to do everything I possibly can to make sure it keeps happening. The atmosphere in the locker room is great. We have so much confidence that we can go far. I know it's a cliché, but we really are a family.”
Coming to the Jets out of Midget AA hockey was a big jump for Shalawylo, but it’s one he has embraced and dealt with the ups and downs that come with accepting such a challenge.
”I've obviously learned a ton playing for (head coach) Jason (Cirone) and the Jets,” said Shalawylo. “The coaches have done a great job of teaching a lot of the intricacies of the game and I've learned a lot about how to practice and play from teammates. The biggest thing I've gotten out of the Jets, though, is just being able to enjoy playing junior hockey.”
Shalawylo added that confidence and enjoying the game can go a long ways, especially this time of year.
“I think having a year of improvement last year set us up for success this year,” explained Shalawylo. “We showed that with the right attitude and leadership in place, this is a team people should want to be a part of. I think that helped attract a lot of really talented players to the team. The amount of talent we have this year is incredible, and everyone has the right attitude.
“We're all working towards the same goal and know we can get there.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets played five games over the past six days and earned seven of ten points. Metro has just five games left on the schedule, including four at Lakeland Arena.
Metro used three different goal-scorers and 40 saves from Eric Trunick to take a 3-2 win over the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution last Friday night at The Rink.
Jake Schlacht, in his first game since a lower body injury shelved him in November, Justin Shureb and Matt Stirling tallied for the Jets.
The next four games were part of the NA3HL East Showcase at the Troy Sports Center.
Troy native Mike MacKinnon had a hand in each goal as he scored two shorthanded goals and added four assists as the Jets opened the showcase with a 6-3 win over the Michigan Mountain Cats Sunday night.
The Mountain Cats had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, but then the Jets exploded for four goals in the second period – MacKinnon's two and singles from Matt Stemkoski and Schlacht.
Steve Klisz scored the Jets' first goal in the first period and Shureb added a goal in the third period.
Dillon Kelley finished with 36 saves in goal for the Jets and Will Shier chipped in two assists from the blue line.
On Monday, the Jets erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to send the game to overtime, but Joe Skrzynski scored 45 seconds into the extra session to give the Toledo Cherokee a 4-3 win.
Doug Andrews scored in the second period for the Jets, while Stirling (at 14:44) and Stemkoski (on a power play at 17:02) tied the game late in the third.
Kelley finished with 38 saves.
Andrews and Trevor Bardallis each had three-point games to lead the Jets over Battle Creek 8-3 Tuesday morning.
Bardallis scored twice with an assist, while Andrews had a goal and two helpers.
Metro captain Tommy Kilgore tallied a goal and an assist and Adam Reid, Klisz, Josh Beleski and Stemkoski scored one apiece.
MacKinnon, Stirling and John Baker each added two assists, while Kelley made 30 saves for the win.
Former Metro forward Tim Wlodkowski registered a goal and an assist for Battle Creek.
The Queen City Steam scored three goals in a 3:07 span early in the second period and held on the rest of the way to beat the Jets 4-2 Wednesday afternoon in the final game of the showcase.
Cameron Mackey and Stirling scored in the loss and Baker assisted on both.
Kelley made 24 saves between the pipes.
The Jets (26-15-1-1) now get set to host the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins this weekend at Lakeland Arena. Game time is 7:50 p.m.Saturday night and then 11:50 a.m.on Sunday. Metro then heads to Flint next Wednesday before closing out the season March 3-4 at home against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.
Prior to being held without a point against Queen City, MacKinnon had 10 points in his previous four games … Klisz is tied with Minnesota’s Parker Tomczyk for second in the NA3HL with 29 goals. Michigan’s James Koonce leads with 30 … Klisz and MacKinnon are tied for second in NA3HL scoring with 61 points apiece … Defenseman Jordan Jones was released this week. Jones had two goals in 15 games this season.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Austin Brown, a defenseman who played in Waterford during the 2005-06 season, was recently named to the All-NCHA Team as a senior at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minn.
The 24-year-old from Lathrup Village leads all NCHA defensemen with 19 points and has the Saints in the NCHA tournament semi-finals. St. Scholastica will host Wisconsin-Stevens Point (and another Jets’ alum Nick Kenney) on Saturday night.
Photo/Andy Grossman/Detailed Images