FRASER, Mich. – Pearce Vance started this season slowly putting his offense together, taking nearly six weeks to get to the 10-point mark.
But the last-year forward from Berkley, Mich., has turned it on as of late, compiling eight points in his last four games to now sit fifth in Metro Jets team scoring with 16 goals and 37 points in 36 games – better than a point-per-game average.
“My linemates (Chas Distelrath and Chase Sereno) make it easy to be offensive,” said Vance, who turns 21 on Feb. 22. “We are starting to really click as a unit.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said all three forwards complement each other extremely well and form a dangerous trio on the ice.
“Vance and his linemates found chemistry early in the season and haven't looked back,” said Quenneville. “They all play at high pace and find a way to break through traffic together with ease. Vance brings the experience and hunger to that line. You can see why he's been a point-per-game player the last two seasons and when this line is clicking, they add another element of offense to our lineup.”
Prior to the season, Vance signed a tender agreement with the NAHL’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, a team that later relocated to Aston, Pa., to become the Aston Rebels. Vance went to training camp in Aston, but didn’t make the cut.
In all honesty, that was perfectly OK with Vance.
“I knew that if I didn't make Aston that I was coming back to the Jets,” Vance said. “I am very happy it worked out this way. Playing for ‘Q’ was one of the best things that could have happened and I don't think I could have gotten the opportunities that I had without him.”
Vance is now in his third season in the NA3HL, having scored 17 goals and 50 points with the Jets last season and recording 13 goals and 33 points in 2013-14 with the Michigan Mountain Cats, a franchise that was sold and moved to Jamestown, N.Y., and now plays as the Southern Tier Xpress.
This year, the Jets have been on a roll and currently lead the East Division by a wide margin while fighting for the first-overall spot in the league standings.
“We just had a reality check this past weekend with our loss to Pittsburgh, so we are pretty excited to get back to playing Jets hockey and prove why we are the No. 1 team in the East,” said Vance. “We need to keep playing the way we have been these past couple of months and focusing on our goal of winning the Silver Cup.”
And with this season his last shot at junior hockey glory, Vance has started to scope out his possible future plans.
“Next year, I plan on playing college hockey, but my dream is play for as long as I possibly can,” said Vance. “With school, I want to major in the science field. I haven't narrowed it down from there yet, though.”
From now until the end of the playoffs, if his science is finding the back of the net, he’s already on his way to finding that happy medium.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
For the first time since Nov. 7, the Jets tasted a regulation defeat.
With a 4-3 win over the Jets Sunday afternoon at Fraser Hockeyland, the Pittsburgh Vengeance snapped Metro’s 17-game winning streak in the process.
“It was a tough weekend for us,” said Quenneville. “We weren’t firing on all cylinders, we didn’t finish our chances when we needed to and we just didn’t have a clean, full 60-minute game either night (Metro beat Pittsburgh 5-3 Saturday). If anything, to have this happen at this point in the year, it’s definitely a check in the mirror moment and it’s good for us. We’ll be able to use this moving forward.
“Credit to Pittsburgh. They’re fighting for a playoff spot and we knew they wouldn’t lay back. We had our chances, can’t complain, but (Jacob) Stack did a great job in their net and gave them a chance to win.”
Stack finished with 42 saves for the Vengeance.
Brian Dee’s goal at 13:53 of the third period stood as the game winner for Pittsburgh.
Sereno and Jacob Drinkard, just back from a two-week stint with the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears, scored in the first period to stake Metro to a 2-0 lead, but Dominick Glavach and Gavin Cummings scored two late goals 30 seconds apart to send the game into the first intermission tied 2-2.
After a scoreless second period, Glavach gave Pittsburgh the lead at 1:54 of the third before Kevin Shand’s team-best 33rd goal of the season tied it for the Jets at 7:37.
Austin Kane stopped 17 shots in the Metro net.
Even in beating the Vengeance 5-3 Saturday night at Fraser Hockeyland, Quenneville said “most guys played average.”
Jets forward Jacob Gleason also admitted as much, saying “we didn’t play a 60-minute game tonight.”
Still, two points is two points in the standings and for the Jets, their 17th straight win. Not counting Metro’s shootout loss in Wooster on Nov. 20, the team’s last regulation loss was Nov. 7 at home to Southern Tier.
Saturday night, Vance, Distelrath, Mathias Tellstrom and Shand all compiled a goal and an assist and Gleason added the other goal.
Jets goalie Kam Limburg made 27 saves to pick up his NA3HL-best 21st win on the season.
“Not our cleanest game and not the finish we wanted, but our guys picked it up after a slow start to get ahead on the scoreboard,” said Quenneville. “Chas had a good game tonight, as did ‘Gleas’ and Vance."
“Last 17 games, everything has been going our way,” added Gleason. “But we started out tonight a little bumpy in the first, came into the locker room and regrouped, then came out stronger in the second and third. Going forward into playoffs, we're going to have to play Jets hockey from start to finish.
“We got the job done and got the two points.”
Metro (32-4-2) travels to play the second-place Toledo Cherokee (24-11-2) tonight at the Team Toledo Ice House at 7 p.m.
“We’re back at zeroes and that’s the way we focus every week,” said Quenneville. “Toledo is a hungry team and we’ve had some success against them this year, so we’ve just got to get back to basics here and focus on the little things that make us a full 60-minute team.”
Tickets for all remaining Jets regular-season home games are available at the arena ticket office one hour before game time, by emailing Nancy Krajewski at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking www.metrojetshockeytickets.com.
As well, tickets for all remaining home games can be purchased for $2 each (a savings of $3) by coming to the ticket office Tuesday night from 6-8 p.m.
Attention Jets alumni!
Come to our last regular-season game on Sat. March 12 at 7:30 p.m. against the Wooster Oilers for recognition and a fun reunion!
Let us know on Twitter with #JetsReunion or leave a comment on the Facebook announcement.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Check out the Jets extensive list of alumni at all levels of hockey at THIS LINK.