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Jr. Jets' 2004 team getting positive results during spring hockey

By Matt Mackinder, 04/30/18, 10:00PM EDT


This spring, the 2004 Metro Jr. Jets Bantam AA team expanded and became more inclusive, whereas other teams in their classification became more exclusive.
All 20 players from last year’s fall roster returned this spring and they have added 12 new players to the program and as of today, that number may grow. All 32-plus players skate two hours on Monday and Thursday as well as an hour in the MAT on Thursdays.
The practices are skill based and consist entirely of edges, goalie instruction, power skating, skills and small games. An emphasis has been placed on a “No Systems” approach to the program - use your speed and skill to read the play and adapt from there. Support the puck when we have it and attack when we don’t.

The goal is to form a program with two teams in the fall that work together under a common structure. The team has added non-parent coach Mark Paczkowski to the mix and he is out for all skates and on the bench during games with the old coaching staff.

This is a unique approach at this age level and the biggest difference is the approach to practices. Each practice is designed like a clinic, and in reality, it is like having six or more clinics in three weeks’ time.

"We are pushing them to become better and the players have responded - they love it," stated 2004 Jr. Jets coach Mark Thornton.

The 2004 Jr. Jets team is the first Jets team to implement the Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP) Model and the benefits are already showing.

With only three weeks of practicing nothing but skills, edges and small games, the Jets have entered two traditional tournaments and one 4 on 4.

Two weeks ago, they lost in the finals to a Canadian select tournament team 4-2 that blew out every other team by seven or more goals. Last weekend, the Jets won the Spring Freeze Tournament 7-1 in Troy and only allowed three goals against in four games. Combined in these tournaments, the Jets have outscored their opponents 34-9. The Jets also entered a 4 on 4 tournament and placed second, only losing out the finals on a penalty shot.

It’s a great start to a program that is designed to empower and develop players.

“We simply worked our plan and tilted the ice in our favor," said Thornton. "Sunday’s final was a great example of the concepts we have been teaching and working towards. Good team win and even better to have your buddies that did not play that weekend show up to support the team. The team progressed each game and got better. It’s a good group of hard working and dedicated players.”

The 2004’s are entered in two more tournaments over the next two weeks and the competition will increase, but they are up to the challenge.