FRASER, Mich. – There is motivation and inspiration in the true sense of the words, but Chase Sereno has his own definitions.
Being able to play for the Metro Jets last season and then again this season, Sereno, like most, knows his family is either in the stands or watching on FASTHockey.com.
And that’s true, but his story is a bit different than your run-of-the-mill tale.
“Around late January, my dad (Robert Sereno) was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer,” explained Sereno. “My dad has fought through 12 rounds and more than 700 hours of chemotherapy. He managed to keep working, and even made it out to Chicago for the Silver Cup (last spring) right after treatment.
“Having such an amazing family, friends and teammates has truly helped me get through the toughest times.”
Sereno also has an older brother, Austin, who plays golf at Davenport College and a younger brother still in high school.
“Chase is a special story when it comes to his start with the Jets,” explained Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “In fact, he was one of only two players last season that made the team out of one of our tryout camps. We invited him to training camp and he has not looked back since. Every time he stepped on the ice, he impressed the coaching staff and even with his small frame (6-foot, 165 pounds), he engaged physically with the puck immediately. He is one of those players that slithers through the opposition and adds another threat in our offense.”
Quenneville added that Sereno’s off-ice demeanor contributes immensely to the team.
“The most impressive side of Chase is his infectious personality,” said Quenneville. “He is loved by all his teammates and brings his humor by his side everywhere he goes. No matter what he has going on his life, he never comes to the rink with a negative attitude. As excited as Chase is to return this year, the staff, his teammates and fans are even more thrilled to see him back for his last season with the Jets.”
Last season, Sereno registered 13 goals and 32 points in 38 games for the Jets and also adding a plus-28 plus-minus rating and just 12 penalty minutes. He played mostly on a line with Pearce Vance and Chas Distelrath and saw time with Distelrath last weekend as well.
And getting to the championship game of the Silver Cup last April has made Sereno want to get there again, but with a different result.
“I came back to play for the Jets for the experience and to take another run for the Silver Cup,” said Sereno, a 19-year-old (he turns 20 Dec. 1) from Waterford, Mich. “Working hard every day on and off the ice helped me improve my game and skills to play for this team. It was definitely a big jump from playing high school hockey to the NA3. Learning the systems and skills from Coach Q has truly helped improve my game and see the game a different way.”
Sereno played high school hockey for Waterford Mott and graduated in 2015.
“My goals this season are to push myself to be to the best player I can possibly be and hopefully, move forward to play college hockey,” said Sereno. “I couldn’t be more excited to be with the Metro Jets for another successful season.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets opened up defense of their NA3HL East Division championship with five unanswered goals en route to a 5-1 win over the West Michigan Wolves Friday night at The Rink in Battle Creek.
Rookie defenseman Trevor Momot scored twice for the Jets, while Distelrath, Jason Newel and Mathias Tellstrom added the others to back Jake Gwillim’s 18 saves in goal.
Nick Foran and Kristian Alafriz each added two assists for Metro.
“It was a good first road win for us,” Quenneville said. “We have a lot of work to continue to do, but we had good energy tonight.”
“We started to move the puck, feeding off of each other and we made plays happen,” said Momot, who served as captain last season as a senior at Anchor Bay High School. “Everyone stepped up today and it was a great win. Scoring twice on the debut is always fun, but the teammates fed me the puck to make it happen.”
Tommy Harrison opened the scoring for the Wolves with a shorthanded goal at 6:42 of the first period before the Jets’ offense came alive.
Alex Wilder made 38 saves for West Michigan.
Andrew Kormos stopped all 25 shots in his NA3HL debut and the Jets downed the Wolves 5-0 Saturday night in their home opener at Fraser Hockeyland.
Evan Newel, Distelrath, Robby Flannery, Cam Schwartz and Tellstrom all scored for the Jets, who are now 2-0-0 on the young season.
Flannery added an assist for a multi-point game.
“The team was playing really well in front of me, making it easy for me to see shots,” Kormos said. “I know it’s early, but the team is playing well and we’re coming together as a team.”
West Michigan goalie Sam Woznicki finished with 28 stops.
Quenneville said he’s excited about the home-and-home weekend sweep over West Michigan, but knows the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
“I think we had good energy this weekend,” said Quenneville. “That’s something we talked about, focusing as much as we can on our game plan and knowing that at the beginning of the year, we’ll have some kinks to iron out. Obviously, we were able to dictate the play a lot with our energy, but credit to West Michigan – they’re a 60-minute team and they keep pushing, pushing, pushing.
“I feel like our guys did what they had to do to get by this weekend.”
This weekend, the Jets play in Toledo against the Cherokee Friday night at 7 p.m. before coming home to host the Cincinnati Thunder for a pair Saturday night at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 12:15 p.m.
Former Jets captain Matt Dempsey dropped the ceremonial puck Saturday night. Dempsey was a two-year captain for Metro, playing with the club from 2013-16.
The Jets have not yet named their captains for the 2016-17 season.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Check out the Jets extensive list of alumni at all levels of hockey at THIS LINK.