FRASER, Mich. – The NA3HL regular season is complete and the Metro Jets once again have qualified for the postseason.
The Fraser Cup Playoffs begin this week and the Jets, as the top seed in the East Division, have drawn the fourth-seeded Southern Tier Xpress, a team that only earned a playoff berth on Sunday, in the East Division semifinals
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville realizes that although his club went 5-1-0 against Southern Tier this season, the playoffs are a different beast altogether.
“This is the most exciting time of year and what all these guys work for as a group,” Quenneville said. “I am truly impressed with the accomplishments this year’s team has reached given the difficult schedule and challenges our program faces night in and night out. In the end, we always bring focus to the situation ahead and this week, it’s Southern Tier. They are playing tough of late and will be a challenge for us. We will need to remove our season hats and bring our playoff hard hats moving forward.
“This is a whole new season, and nobody cares about our accomplishments this season, including ourselves. I expect a physical series between two teams that don’t want their seasons to end this week. We have been here before numerous times, but we all know that this is a difficult road ahead, and our goals do not change now that we are here.”
During the regular season, Southern Tier was led offensively by Stuart Pearson (28 goals) and Joey Gerace (52 points), while Brian Grant is steady on the back end and Brandon Heacock and Ryan Pascarella are a capable 1-2 combo in net. Heacock was in goal back on Feb. 16 when the Xpress downed the Jets 4-3 at Northwest Arena in Jamestown, N.Y.
JETS VS. SOUTHERN TIER – 2017-18 REGULAR SEASON
Nov. 3 @ Southern Tier – W, 8-2
Nov. 4 @ Southern Tier – W, 8-0
Dec. 9 @ Fraser – W, 9-1
Feb. 16 @ Southern Tier – L, 4-3
March 3 @ Fraser – W, 7-0
March 4 @ Fraser – W, 2-1
Metro and Southern Tier open up their best-of-three series Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Jamestown. The series then shifts to Fraser Hockeyland for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop Saturday night. If a deciding Game 3 is needed, that will be played Sunday at 12:45 p.m., also in Fraser.
“I have to credit Southern Tier for making that late playoff push to put themselves in this position,” Jets captain Griffin Sawyer said. “With that being said, though, I think we focus on our game more than anything. We can watch film and take notes all we want, but at the end of the day, we control our own fate and I like to worry about what’s going on in our locker room.
“Playoffs is what we work towards all year. Regular-season awards are nice, but playoffs are what really matters. Everyone’s looking forward to this time and we’re ready to go. We try to act like it’s just another game, but at the same time in the back of our minds, we know it’s do or die. We use the extra energy and intensity as a positive only. I know what our team is capable of and think we’re going to be a dangerous team to play against in these next three weeks. Everybody is always out to beat us, but I know we’re not going down without a fight.”
Over the course of the six-game series during the regular season, the Jets outscored the Xpress 37-8. Suffice to say, veteran Robby Flannery and the rest of the Metro defense corps will need to continue that trend this week.
“We’re going to do what we do every week, which is prepare and take it one game at a time,” Flannery said. “I think defensively, we keep doing the same thing. Tighten up a little bit more, block more shots and be stronger on pucks in the ‘D’ zone.”
In the other East semifinal, the Lansing Wolves play the Pittsburgh Vengeance.
All playoff games will be streamed on www.hockeytv.com.