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Lone season with Jets catapults talented blueliner O'Rourke to NCAA D-III Westfield State commitment

By Matt Mackinder, 06/08/23, 10:30AM EDT


MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. - Bryce O'Rourke came to the Metro Jets last summer already with USPHL experience under his belt.

Over the course of the 2022-23 season, the Royal Oak, Mich., native developed his game to be attractive to college scouts, making his recent commitment to NCAA Division III Westfield State University a dream come true.

Westfield State is located in Westfield, Mass., about 100 miles southeast of Boston.

Former Jets standouts David Chavis, Kam Limburg and Pearce Vance have played for the Owls in recent years.

"The opportunity to play hockey at Westfield State University came about through a combination of hard work, dedication, and playing for the Jets," O'Rourke said. "As a hockey player, I've always dreamt of playing at the collegiate level, and I put in countless hours of training and competing to make that dream a reality. What made the opportunity even more special was the rich hockey history at Westfield State. Learning that former Jets players had also come through the program was incredibly inspiring."

O'Rourke, who just turned 21 on May 28, is elated at the possibilities that await him at Westfield State.

"With a strong work ethic and a team-oriented mindset, I aim to adapt, learn, and make a positive impact, both on and off the ice," said O'Rourke. "In terms of my major, I am still exploring different academic paths and taking advantage of the resources at Westfield State to find what best suits my goals. Overall, I am excited about joining the team and the academic environment, and I look forward to discovering my role on the ice and selecting a major that will shape my future .

This past season with the Jets, O'Rourke registered seven goals and 21 points in 27 games from the blue line with another two goals and three points in six playoff games.

"From the moment I joined the Jets, their coaching staff and development program were dedicated to improving my skills and maximizing my potential as a player," said O'Rourke. "One of the key aspects that the Jets focused on was my overall hockey IQ. They emphasized the importance of understanding the game, reading plays, and making smart decisions on the ice. My season with the Jets was a rewarding and transformative experience. I set goals, worked closely with the coaching staff, and made significant strides in my overall game. I became a more confident, well-rounded player, contributing consistently on the ice. Beyond statistics, I brought leadership, work ethic, and a positive attitude to the team. I developed resilience, adaptability, and mental toughness, overcoming adversity and growing both as a player and an individual. 

"I am proud of my achievements, and I will carry the lessons learned with me as I move on to college hockey."

Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said O'Rourke was a very coachable player with the Jets and bought into the Jets' systems and development platforms.

"We would like to congratulate Bryce on his commitment," Quenneville said. "He was fortunate to take advantage of his opportunities here with the Jets and was given the necessary tools to help expose him. He battled an injury this year and missed some time, but because of our program and environment, everyone did a great job getting him back and him working with Jamie and staff help elevate his game. I've known (Westfield State coach) Bob Miele for a long time and he is a great coach and mentor. 

"We have had several players have success there over the years and Bryce is joining a great program. We wish him the best."

In making a life-changing commitment such as this one to pursue his hockey and academic dreams out East, O'Rourke said it was far from a one-man show.

"When making a commitment like this, I am grateful to both my hockey family and my personal family for their unwavering support," O'Rourke said. "From my hockey family, I thank my coaches, teammates, and support staff who have guided and encouraged me throughout my development as a player. Their dedication, belief in my abilities, and patience have been invaluable. Additionally, I express deep gratitude to my personal family, including my parents, siblings, and extended family, for their constant support, love, and sacrifices. Their presence at games, financial assistance, and belief in me have been a source of strength and inspiration."

With summer rapidly approaching, O'Rourke said he's going to keep working to be ready for the next jump in the fall.

"This summer, my plans involve a mix of dedicated on-ice training to improve my hockey skills, enjoying leisure activities such as wake surfing and traveling, enjoying time with family, and maintaining a productive work routine," said O'Rourke. "Staying very active and disciplined throughout summer helps to enhance my abilities on the ice, and while also taking time to relax and rejuvenate through activities like wake surfing, I aim to make the most of my summer break and return to the ice refreshed, motivated, and ready to elevate my game."

As the offseason kicks into high gear, stay tuned to and the team's social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the most up-to-date news.

Photos/Hadlee Meier