Steady d-man Lockner making strides

WATERFORD, Mich. – And to think that Adam Lockner didn’t play competitive hockey at all last season.

After playing for Farmington High School and graduating in 2012, Lockner suffered an injury in the offseason and sat out the 2012-13 season and focused on school.

Then came the summer of 2013.

“I wasn't playing anywhere and really just wanted to skate,” said the 19-year-old defenseman from Farmington Hills, Mich. “Cooper (McLean) was telling me that the (Metro Jets) were short guys and needed defensemen, so I came to a practice a couple weeks before the season started and was offered a spot.”

McLean, a close friend of Lockner’s, had signed a tender agreement with the Jets during the 2012-13 season at Farmington High and is also a rookie this year with Metro.

”I didn't know much about the Jets, but as the North American 3 Hockey League, I had a few friends that played for other teams and told me it's competitive and they had a lot of fun in the NA3,” said Lockner. “Not playing last year made it tough to just start back up, but I think I have come a long way. I would say my confidence has really improved, helping me play more aggressive.

“All of the coaches (with the Jets) have really helped me a lot. As I said, it was tough not playing last year, but they've done a great job helping me get my legs back and gaining confidence.”

Lockner has proven to be a durable skater this season, playing in all 40 games and scoring one goal with six assists for seven points.

With one more year of junior hockey eligibility remaining after this year, Lockner is hoping for a chance to move up next season and his play as of late when paired with James Roznowski insists he would be ready.

“Quite a few guys from our team alone have had a chance to go to North American Hockey League practices and a couple have moved on and played in games,” Lockner said. “The NA3 is a lot better than people think. More and more players from the NA3 are getting opportunities at higher levels.”

From a team standpoint, it’s crunch time with the Jets clinging to slim hopes of making the league playoffs.

Lockner wants to do all he can to extend the season and in the long run, extend his career.

”With eight games left and just barely out of playoffs, we know we have to get these wins,” said Lockner. “We are all excited for these next eight games. We just need to keep working hard and hope it pays off here in the end. I just want to keep playing hard and do my part to help the team get to playoffs and also to continue to go to school. My long-term goals are to continue to develop my game to move on to the next level and ultimately, play college hockey.

“No matter what happens, hockey will always be a part of my life.”

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

The Jets and Michigan Mountain Cats split their home-and-home series last weekend with each team winning on home ice.

Metro jumped out to a 2-0 lead and held on for a 2-1 win Saturday night at Lakeland Arena.

Alex Holm and Cody Jones scored for the Jets.

Jets’ goalie Kam Limburg stopped 20 shots to earn the win in goal.

Zach Collins scored four goals and added a pair of assists as the Mountain Cats defeated the Jets 9-5 Sunday afternoon at Fraser Hockeyland.

Kade Morrison added a goal and three assists and netminder Joe Lopez stopped 44 shots for the Mountain Cats.

For the Jets, Kyle Shreve scored two goals, while Kyle Downey had a goal and an assist and McLean and T.J. Krajewski scored one apiece.

Limburg and Trevor Kalinowski combined to make 22 saves between the pipes.

Next action for the Jets (17-21-2) is this weekend on the road against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks. Game time Saturday is 5:30 p.m. and then Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

JET STREAKS

Metro defenseman and leading scorer Brad Hepler started the 2012-13 season in Cleveland before being acquired in January 2013 for forward Jeff Monfils.

Last week, the NA3HL announced the rosters for the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament that will be held from Feb. 17-19 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Mich.

The Jets will be represented on Team East by forward and captain Zack MacKay and defensemen Carter Reid and Hepler, while forwards Shreve and Holm will play for Team South.

Just two more Jets’ regular-season games at home remain this season – Saturday, Feb. 15 against the Toledo Cherokee and Saturday, March 8, also against Toledo.  

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Monfils, who came to the Jets from Cleveland in a summer 2012 trade, is now in his freshman season at ACHA Division I Niagara University.

A 21-year-old native of Washington, Mich., Monfils has tallied three goals in 22 games this season for the Purple Eagles.

Last season between the Jets and Cleveland, Monfils recorded 13 goals and 20 assists (nine goals and 24 points with the Jets) for 33 points in 43 games.