FRASER, Mich. – With the offseason comes the annual time for Metro Jets players to start making their college commitments.
Last month, Jets captain Brodie Thornton got the ball rolling by deciding on Adrian College and today, veteran forward Justin Renzi gave the nod to NCAA Division III New England College, a school located in Henniker, N.H., that competes in the New England Hockey Conference.
Renzi, a 20-year-old Canton, Mich., native, said NEC has everything he was looking for in a college career.
“What appealed to me the most about NEC was, of course, the hockey being really good there but also the campus life and they have what I want to go into (business),” Renzi said. “I like how it’s a smaller school that takes pride in its sports.”
Once he arrives in Henniker, Renzi will join former Jets forwards Jhuwon Davis, Connor Inger and Trevor Momot and goaltender Andrew Kormos with the Pilgrims.
“It’s really nice that there are former Jets players there – that also made the decision easier to go to NEC,” said Renzi. “They all had nothing but great things to say about the campus, the hockey, and the brotherhood. With them being second- and third-year players, I can look up to them to help make the transition easier.
“I hope to be an impact player as a freshman. Going from playing juniors to the college level is a big jump, so it’s going to be a busy offseason getting ready for the next step. I’m very excited to play at NEC and help the team in any way I can.”
In the classroom, the NEC business curriculum is one that Renzi looks to take on with as much seriousness as his hockey career.
“I want to get into business when I am older so I’m going to study business and take the courses that go with that,” Renzi said. “Hopefully, one day I’ll own my own business – that would be really nice. I hope the transition will be easy getting back into schoolwork, but it’s all about just staying on task and time management.”
Renzi joined the Jets midway through the 2018-19 season and posted eight goals and 18 points in 26 games. This season, Renzi served as an alternate captain and recorded 17 goals and 48 points over 36 games.
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said he watched Renzi put in the work and is excited to see him earn an NCAA opportunity.
“’Renz’ is deserving of this opportunity and will be a great fit at NEC,” said Quenneville. “They have a great coaching staff and with several former Jets on the team, I know Justin will work hard to be a key part like those guys. He brings a lot of versatility to the table and that’s why he was being recruited by so many schools, but in the end, he knew NEC was the best fit. We wish him the best of luck next season."
Playing for the Jets the past two seasons “has been amazing,” said Renzi, and helped him develop the skills needed to get noticed by NCAA schools.
“It’s ran like a pro program – workouts and skating in the morning and then video after,” said Renzi. “The Jets give you every tool you need to become a better player. I’ve got to thank Coach Q and (associate head coach) Jamie Lovell for shaping me into the player I am and giving me a chance to help lead this team. There are so many people to thank for helping me get to this point from former coaches, former teammates, my parents, basically my whole family, and all of my friends.
“All of the support from everyone makes playing the game 10 times more fun and keeps pushing you.”
Going forward, Renzi is pumped to have his next four years planned out and ready to go.
“My short-term goals for hockey are to keep on improving my game every day, keep living a healthy lifestyle that will allow me to play the game at a high level, and keep taking life one day at a time and making sure I’m taking the most out of it as I can,” Renzi said. “I’m excited for the next four years and am looking forward to building a brotherhood and competing in NCAA hockey.
“Playing hockey is something I want to do for as long as I can. Long term, I would like to continue to play after college, just taking it one step at a time.”