FRASER, Mich. – Derek Dreher is a prime example of the old adage that hard work pays off.
A healthy scratch for much of the first half of the 2019-20 season for the Metro Jets, Dreher started to earn his spot on the MJDP team’s blue line and by the end of the year, was a key component on the back end.
“The process from being sat out a few games to being a relied-on player towards the end of the year and putting up points had to do with the work that I had put in every day at practice to better myself,” said Decker, a 2002 birth year out of Deckerville, Mich. “I knew that if I stayed motivated that I would get my chance in the lineup and improve on what I needed to. My confidence to make plays improved the most I think last year, whether that was joining a rush or making the smart and simple plays.”
Last season, Dreher put up two goals and nine points in 39 games during the regular season before going for a goal and a pair of helpers in four USPHL playoff games.
He’s hoping those numbers will be greater in 2020-21 after recently re-signing with the Jets.
“The decision to come back to the Jets was a no-brainer for me,” Dreher said. “The facilities and the coaching staff really helped to improve my game last year, and I hope to continue that track into next season.
“The facility and staff that we get the chance to work with is what I believe one of the best in the USPHL. The success of the Jets is really shown with the amount of college and NCAA offers produced every year.”
Jets associate head coach Jamie Lovell saw Dreher’s game progress steadily a season ago and is eager to see how that translates to the 2020-21 campaign.
“Derek Dreher is the reason I enjoy coaching at this level,” said Lovell. “To see the progression in the ‘big man’ from training camp to the tough end to our season in the playoffs was remarkable and so rewarding as a coach. Derek was a sponge and all he did was come to the rink with an attitude to listen, learn and work, day in and day out.
“He went from being a player that was in and out of the lineup in the first month to being a key player down the stretch and in the playoffs, playing in every situation and contributing offensively. I can’t wait to see what we can do with him this coming season. I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of his potential."
As last season ended in the playoffs for Dreher and the MJDP team, that has only made everyone hungrier for the upcoming year.
“Not being able to be on the ice for weeks has me looking forward to getting back on the ice every day,” Dreher said. “During the stay-at-home order, I have been working out six days of the week with Coach Jamie's program, with some shooting and stick handling every other day. This summer, I plan on being on the ice as much as possible as soon as the arenas open up.”
FRASER, Mich. – After a successful high school career with East Grand Rapids, Tate Potteiger is eager to make the jump to junior hockey with the Metro Jets.
Potteiger, a 2002 birth year goaltender, recently signed with the USPHL club with an eye on being an impact player in the fall.
“(Jets assistant coach and goalie coach) Randy Wilson reached out to me after the Trenton showcase last season and said he wanted me to play for the Jets,” said Potteiger. “After working with my coaches, I decided to sign with the team.”
“Over the past two years, I've been able to watch Tate play several times and even attended one of his practices,” added Wilson. “I was able to get a good read on his technical ability as well as his competitiveness. After meeting with Tate and discussing his future goals in hockey and interest in playing junior, I determined that he would be a great fit for our program.
“Not only is he a skilled goaltender, his competitiveness and character I believe will flourish through our Jets platform. He exhibits the maturity and work ethic that will no doubt contribute to reaching his goal to play college hockey. I am looking forward to working with Tate to further his goaltending development and am excited to see where his game goes.”
Potteiger, who posted a 2.30 GAA and a .924 save percentage last year, said he did his research on the Jets and came away impressed.
“The amount of players that move on to NCAA hockey is astounding, and that really got me pumped to play for the Jets,” Potteiger said. “Logan Davis is a buddy of mine that plays for the Jets and he loves it, so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Stats aside, Potteiger will also bring swagger to Fraser.
“I am a very competitive person,” said Potteiger. “I want to win and succeed at everything that I do. That is something that I take pride in, along with my athleticism and always being on my angles. I just want to have a solid season with the Jets and play in every game that I can.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville sees a positive experience ahead for Potteiger.
“We are looking forward to working with Tate and for him to take advantage of our program,” Quenneville said. “We have had a lot of success with goalies that buy in to the process here with the Jets. Randy did a great job finding Tate and I know he is excited to work with him and all our goalies. In the end, Tate will have all the opportunities here to develop and succeed."
FRASER, Mich. – The Metro Jets continue to build for the upcoming 2020-21 season and today, announced the signing of Swedish forward Herman Ahokas.
A 2001 birth year, Ahokas has skated the past few seasons for HC Lidkoping, the same organization that produced current Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Ahokas is looking forward to making an impact next season with the Jets.
“I've always wanted to play in United States,” Ahokas said. “I saw the opportunity to go after my graduation, so I contacted my advisor, Daniel Ljung, and he has helped me with everything. When he showed me this opportunity, I knew it was a great chance.
“This is a great opportunity for me to develop and grow, both as a person and as a hockey player. This is a great team and the opportunities are endless.”
With the Jets, Ahokas will join forward Mathias Tellstrom (2015-17), goaltender Fredrik Meurling (2018-19) and defenseman Jesper Svadang (2019-20) as recent Swedes to play in Fraser.
“I noticed all of them when I checked the Metro Jets team history and have seen that they are great players,” said Ahokas. “I don't know them personally, though.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville has high hopes for Ahokas once he comes over the pond later this summer.
“We are excited for Herman to join our team,” Quenneville said. “He comes with a decorated resume and recommended by people we work with closely. I really liked his skill set in tight and his natural abilities offensively. We look forward to helping his overall game and put him in positions to succeed.
“We know he will love it here like so many other Euros have over the years and look forward to his arrival."
Last season with HC Lidkoping, Ahokas collected 14 goals and 24 points in 22 games.
“I think the strongest part of my game is my ability to find good scoring opportunities and score,” Ahokas said.
What does Ahokas want to accomplish next season in a Jets jersey?
“I hope we will be a contender for the national championship,” said Ahokas. “I also want to see myself taking steps to be a better hockey player.”