FRASER, Mich. – The goal all season long for the Metro Jets was to still be playing meaningful hockey in April.
That time has come.
This week, the Jets travel to suburban Chicago to participate in the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville.
Metro earned an automatic berth as the East Division champions, but would have been at the event regardless after finishing second overall in the regular season with a 40-5-2 record. In the playoffs, the Jets swept the Wooster Oilers in the semifinals and the West Michigan Wolves last weekend in the finals.
Last season, the Jets qualified for the Silver Cup after winning the East crown, but did not advance past pool play.
“I am proud of the players’ accomplishment this season and meeting our goal of returning to the Silver Cup, but I would be lying if I said we haven't looked ahead slightly at our potential competition heading into playoffs,” said Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “We’ll prepare accordingly and we’ll take it one game at a time – just like we’ve been doing all year.”
In Pool B play, the Jets play the Texas Jr. Brahmas (first wild card) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST, the Twin City Steel (West Division champions) Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and then the St. Louis Jr. Blues (Midwest Division champions) on Friday at 5 p.m.
Pool A has the North Iowa Bulls, who finished first overall during the regular season and won the Central Division, Point Mallard Ducks (South Division champions), Yellowstone Quake (second wild card) and the Great Falls Americans (Frontier Division champs).
North Iowa, Great Falls and the Jets all return to the Silver Cup event this season.
Great Falls also boasts goaltender Jake Stephan, who played for the Jets in 2014-15 before being traded in the offseason.
The semifinals run Saturday with the championship game set for Sunday.
The Granite City Lumberjacks won the 2015 Silver Cup.
All Silver Cup games will be available on www.fasthockey.com.
POOL B OPPONENTS
ST. LOUIS JR. BLUES
Coach: Chris Flaugher
Regular season: 35-8-4, 1st in Midwest Division
Playoffs: Won Midwest Division championship
Key players: F Frankie Melton (37 goals), F Alex Klaesner (33 goals, 56 points), F Tomas Loeffelman (24 goals, 56 points), D Joe Nolan (40 points), G Zach Young (21-5-1-2, 2.56 GAA, .911 SV%, five shutouts)
TEXAS JR. BRAHMAS
North Richland Hills, Tex.
Coach: Al Rooney
Regular season: 35-9-3, 2nd in South Division
Playoffs: Lost in South Division championship, earned first wild card
Key players: F Ryan Dunner (35 goals, 77 points), F Kyle Galloway (28 goals, 63 points), F Bryan Whelan (27 goals, 57 points), D George Hansen (42 points), G Brandon Perrone (19-4-1-1, 1.73 GAA, .916 SV%, six shutouts), G Tyler Myers (16-5-1-0, 1.94 GAA, .914 SV%, five shutouts)
TWIN CITY STEEL
White Bear Lake, Minn.
Coach: Jay Witta
Regular season: 30-13-4, 2nd in West Division
Playoffs: Won West Division championship
Key players: F Joe Costello (33 goals), F Luc Kreuser (24 goals, 54 points), F Jared Erickson (15 goals, 49 points), D Bennett Witta (27 points), G Nathan Siclovan (10-5-0-1, 3.02 GAA, .898 SV%, two shutouts)
Michigan natives: D Nick McKeeby (Brighton) and Costello (Rochester)