WATERFORD, Mich. – Matt Stirling won’t be heading to Oakland University this fall on a blind whim.
Already an exceptional student at the Rochester, Mich.-based school, the former Metro Jets’ three-year captain will start his college hockey career for the Grizzlies, an ACHA Division I institution.
Stirling joins ex-Jets’ teammates Doug Andrews, who will also be a freshman on the ice, and sophomore forward Tommy Kilgore, another former Metro captain, and second-year defenseman John Baker.
“There weren’t too many other logical options for me after the season,” explained Stirling, a 21-year-old forward from Dexter, Mich. “I had a couple chances elsewhere, but none of those options were as logical as going to Oakland. Already being involved with the school during my last season at Metro, the transition was an easy one to make.
“(OU coach) Gordie (Schaeffler) met with me during the showcase in Troy last season. We talked over my options and since I was already at the school for academics, it was an easy transition when he asked me to play hockey there as well.”
And getting to re-connect with former Metro teammates is what Stirling calls “one of the most exciting parts of this upcoming season.”
“Doug will be there and after playing with him for two years at Metro, it is exciting,” Stirling said. “The other guys like Baker and Kilgore are just more pieces to a quality team at Oakland. Knowing how these guys play makes the team better off and makes the transition from juniors to college easier.”
Over his three years with the Jets, Stirling skated in 139 games and averaged better than a point per game with 60 goals and 96 assists for 156 points. Last year, he finished fifth in North American 3 Hockey League scoring with 73 points on 22 goals and 51 assists and also served as the Jets’ captain after two years as an alternate.
Now heading to OU to become the prototypical student-athlete, Stirling has all his ducks in a row, so to speak.
“The classroom stuff is mostly decided,” said Stirling. “Being almost a junior at Oakland, I have chosen to major in business and more importantly, finance. The on-ice aspect will be interesting. I plan to be a versatile player for Gordie next season and will do anything he asks to help us win. My role on the team will develop later on, but I plan to give it 100 percent and show the team that I can do multiple things on the ice. My main goal for this next season is to win a championship.”
Ever the classy individual, Stirling acknowledged those people that guided him along his hockey path.
“There are many people I would like to thank for getting me to this point in my career,” Stirling said. “First, I would like to thank my parents. Without their support, I would not be where I am at today in not just my hockey career, but life in general. Secondly, I would like to thank (Metro head coach) Jason Cirone. He developed me as a player and a person from our first year all the way through the end of last season. Without him landing a spot at Metro three years ago, I would have no idea where I would be in my hockey career.
“Lastly, I would like to thank all the teammates from the past three seasons. I have learned a lot about them and in return, they have put me in situations that I have learned from and will take with me to the next level.”
Photo by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images