WATERFORD, Mich. – Matt Dempsey played his rookie season in the North American 3 Hockey League last year and improved on a daily basis for the Metro Jets.
Once the offseason came around after the Jets were bounced in the first round of the NA3HL playoffs, Dempsey looked at his options, with one of them hanging up the skates.
That’s when Metro coach Justin Quenneville stepped in.
“’Q’ had a lot to do with my decision to come back to the Jets and continue on in hockey,” said Dempsey. “I have a lot of confidence in his opinion and he has encouraged me and really believes in my ability.”
Last season, the 19-year-old New Baltimore, Mich., product posted six goals and 20 points in 47 games. Through 14 games this year, Dempsey is averaging nearly a point per game with four goals and 13 points over 14 games.
Dempsey was also recently named an assistant captain for the Jets, joining fellow assistant Cooper McLean and captain David Chavis II.
“It is a tremendous honor to be wearing the 'A' this year,” Dempsey said. “I am very committed to this responsibility and hope to be a good example of hard work and commitment to my teammates, on and off the ice. Chavis, McLean and myself also mesh very well together.”
“Matt hasn’t been a surprise by my standards whatsoever,” added Quenneville. “We knew his abilities and his potential as a player and leader. It took a little convincing in the offseason for him to apply himself 100 percent in order to make the most of his opportunities, and he has not let me down.”
With the Jets sitting in second place in the East Division, Dempsey attributes that to having a skilled team, as well as a team that works well together.
“The chemistry is really coming together and it is shaping up to be a very successful season,” said Dempsey. “Everyone is working hard and buying in. Coming in from last year, the biggest thing I've learned is if you're willing to put forth the effort, results will come. The mood and vibe among the team right now is really good. The team is working hard and finding success and there is really good energy and momentum.”
Looking ahead to this season and down the line, Dempsey has his head on straight when it comes to his hockey and life aspirations.
“My short-term goals in hockey are to continue to improve my game and play to my potential,” explained Dempsey. “My long-term goal is to have the opportunity to play in the NAHL and hopefully, play college hockey. In life, I am very focused on playing hockey and working for my family's business, wanting to see what opportunities I might have in the near future. My long-term life goals are to find a career path in an area that I enjoy and that provides stability.
“Hopefully, hockey is always part of my life.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets split a road series with the Southern Tier Xpress last weekend in Jamestown, N.Y., winning 8-5 on Saturday and dropping a 7-5 decision Friday.
On Friday night, Kyle Shreve tallied two goals and an assist, Cody Jones added a pair of goals and Alex Holm chipped in a goal and two assists.
McLean tacked on two assists and goaltender Kam Limburg made 37 saves.
Saturday night, Tyler Layle exploded for three goals, Max Vance two goals and an assist, Shreve went for two more goals and McLean registered a goal and two assists in the win.
Andrew Sawyer, Zach Koonce and Devin Kelly each had two assists, while Stephan finished with 23 stops in goal.
“We always want to win out games on the road and we were fully aware of Southern Tier’s success at home and we fell just short on Friday,” Quenneville said. “We are happy about how the guys responded Saturday with a dominant performance and will continue to build on our play. Our power play was the best we have seen all season, so hopefully, that translates to consistent success ahead.”
This weekend, the Jets (10-6-0) host the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks Friday night at Lakeland Arena for a 7:50 p.m. opening faceoff and then travel to Cleveland for a 2:30 p.m. puck drop Sunday.
“Our goal is to take care of business Friday night at home, and in order to do that, we will need to stay disciplined against Cleveland,” said Quenneville. “Naturally, they play a much different game at home on the big sheet, so we will need to utilize our speed and strength up front.”
Stephan is tied for first in the NA3HL with seven victories.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Devin Williams began the 2011-12 season with the Jets and finished the year with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, where he has played ever since.
Williams, a 19-year-old Saginaw, Mich., native, went 9-9-0 with a 3.88 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage in Waterford.
Last year with the Otters, Williams went 23-5-1 with a 2.57 GAA and a .905 save percentage with five shutouts and attended the Nashville Predators’ rookie development camp over the summer.