FRASER, Mich. – Anthony Cinato’s journey with the Metro Jets began after an open tryout for the 2017-18 season.
The journey ended last month when the coronavirus outbreak shut down the USPHL National Tournament after a half-day of action in suburban Boston.
Now, Cinato will play college hockey in the fall as the Warren, Mich., native committed last week to play NCAA Division III hockey next season for New England College, a school located in Henniker, N.H., that competes in the New England Hockey Conference.
“Since the beginning of the year, I have been talking to the head coach there, Tom Carroll, quite a bit, staying in touch,” Cinato said. “After the season, we talked more and more about me being there next year.
“Getting into the school routine again I assume will be tough at first, but I have always been a really good student, so I hope that makes the transition a lot easier. I’m going to study business. They have some cool opportunities where you can get your bachelor’s degree in three years and master’s in your fourth year, so I’m looking to do something like that.”
At New England College, Cinato will join former Jets forwards Jhuwon Davis, Connor Inger, Trevor Momot and Justin Renzi and goaltender Andrew Kormos with the Pilgrims.
“I stay in touch with all of them quite a bit, and we’ll all work out again this summer once the lockdown is lifted,” said Cinato. “Inger has been a huge help with telling me things about NEC and him and I have been going to the Dakota High School field doing some workouts to stay in shape. Always good going into somewhere new knowing some people and especially with these boys, I’m excited.”
Earlier this offseason, Cinato had signed an NCDC tender agreement with the Twin City Thunder, one of two NCDC teams Cinato played for during the past two seasons, the Boston Jr. Bruins the other.
In 2019-20, Cinato posted a team-best 83 points on 28 goals and 55 assists in 44 games while also serving as one of the Jets’ alternate captains. He took over the all-time team lead in points with a penalty shot goal on Feb. 22 at home against the Columbus Mavericks.
Cinato said he knew at the start of the season that the mark was within reach.
“It was just a goal in the back of my head,” Cinato said. “I knew I was close but still not sure if I was capable of catching it. Our team was pretty special this year I had some really good linemates. Going into that last game, I knew we locked up first place (in the Great Lakes Division), so I know some of the boys were feeding me some extra chances.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said Cinato came in raw as a 17-year-old and leaves as a well-polished veteran with a well-earned opportunity at a high-end NCAA institution.
“’AC’ is another one of those great stories,” Quenneville said. “We are fortunate here that our players can create and receive many offers and options for themselves, but first and foremost, they need to commit to that process. We have seen AC grow every season and really develop into a high-end player offensively. He got stronger, smarter and more consistent every season, hence why he had so many offers and options.
“In the end, he chose the NCAA path next season and NEC is one of the top programs in the country. It’s tough to walk away from an NCDC opportunity next season with a great club like Twin City, but this is what our players strive and work for. We are happy for AC and wish him the best of luck in college next year.”
In his rookie season of 2017-18, Cinato tallied 11 goals and 38 points in 42 games in helping the Jets to a national championship. Last season, the Jets again played in the national championship game and Cinato registered 23 goals and 46 points in 42 games. He also scored a goal for the Jr. Bruins.
Playing for the Jets has done wonders for Cinato’s overall development.
“The Jets are a first-class organization and I can’t thank them enough for the person and hockey player I am today,” said Cinato. “I thank our owner Pete Cammick for always supporting our team and Coach Q and Coach Jamie (Lovell) for giving me a chance to come play at Metro and making me a better person off the ice as well as on the ice.
“Metro has done so much for me and I can’t thank the coaching staff and the new brothers I gained every year enough. It truly was special, and I cherish the last three years from winning a national championship my rookie year to the coronavirus ruining my last.”
Now stuck at home heeding the state’s “stay home, stay safe” directive to curb the COVID-19 spread, Cinato said he is itching to get back on the ice.
“After the cancellation of USPHL Nationals, I just came home and had to dwell over it for a little bit,” said Cinato. “I’m just trying to eat right, stay healthy, and keep the same routine for the most part.”
Cinato also offered words of advice for returning Jets players and newcomers in the fall.
“My biggest advice for returners and newcomers would be to just buy in early and use all the tools they give you,” said Cinato. “You walk in and have all the tools to succeed and for a kid like me, I needed to find the gym and get stronger, and I really took advantage of that.
“Metro is forever a family atmosphere and a prestigious organization. I am grateful I got to play there.”