Top pick Gambino has winning pedigree

WATERFORD, MI – The Metro Jets had the 11th overall pick in the North American 3 Hockey League draft back on June 5, but couldn’t wait 10 picks to make their first selection.

Instead, the Jets made a draft day trade with the Quad City Jr. Flames to move up to No. 5 and with that pick, Metro grabbed Livonia Churchill High School forward Mike Gambino.

“We didn’t think Gambino would be there when we picked at No. 11 and he was the player we wanted,” said Jets’ coach Jason Cirone. “He’s highly-skilled and came from the same high school program (Metro top scorer from 2011-12) Steve Klisz came from a year ago. I saw him play a couple times and I think he could play in the North American Hockey League next season, but if not, he’ll have options with us and we’ll certainly do all we can to move him, as well as the rest of our players, to the next level.”

“It is a great honor to be drafted fifth by the Metro Jets,” said a humble Gambino, a Second Team All-State pick in 2011-12. “I was really surprised when I saw I went that early. To be honest, I don’t know much about the league itself, but I have heard that the Metro Jets is a great organization and has an awesome coach in Jason Cirone. Before the draft, my dad and I talked to Steve Klisz’s dad about the league and he helped us out in giving us some information.”

In minor hockey, Gambino twice went to the state tournament (Livonia Knights Pee Wee and Livonia Flyers Bantam) and won back-to-back regional titles at Churchill in 2011 and 2012. He also played in the prestigious State Games in 2011, winning gold. This past spring, Gambino skated with Team Michigan where he was part of the championship-winning team at the CCM NIT in Minnesota.

Admittedly, Gambino has his sights on playing in the NAHL this fall and as Cirone said, the talent level is certainly there.

”I would describe myself as a two-way forward,” Gambino said. “I know how to put up points, but I love to hit and play a very physical game. My main goal is to play in the NAHL, so that’s what I am focusing on right now. I haven’t really thought about what I would do if I didn’t make an NAHL team, so we’ll see how everything works out.

“Wherever I wind up, I would like to be a first- or second-line player with some special teams’ opportunities.”