FRASER, Mich. – When injuries hit the Metro Jets defense corps earlier in the season, the coaching staff looked for an in-house solution.
Enter Brodie Thornton.
Thornton, a 19-year-old from Clinton Township, is a forward by trade, but fills in on the back end regularly for the Jets.
It’s a role he’s beyond comfortable handling.
“Playing defense has helped me improve my control of the game,” said Thornton, who scored the overtime game-winner in the national semifinals last March. “Back on defense, I run the plays knowing where everyone is at on the ice. Seeing the ice more has also improved my hockey sense, just knowing how much time we have with the puck. Controlling the plays without rushing it helps put me and the team in many games. I feel comfortable back there every time I come up with the puck.”
A Metro Jr. Jets graduate, Thornton joined the Jets junior team last season and fit in right away.
“Last season was an unbelievable year for me to develop, not only with the coaches, but also with the older guys,” Thornton said. “Everything wasn’t about hockey. The junior life gave me everyday situations and honestly, got me more prepared than schooling did for the world we have out there. Through last season to this season, I feel I kept the momentum up with skating over the summer and working out four times a week skating with guys that are pros and college players.”
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville sees Thornton’s versatility as a major component to the team’s success this season.
“Brodie has been fun player to watch grow over the years,” said Quenneville. “He has come a long way on and off the ice in a positive direction. He listens, he works, and he applies it. A true example of a player that has invested himself in the process and a big reason why he found success the second half of the year last year. He didn’t whine, complain or let up when things weren’t going his way. He worked harder, listened to the details and came to the rink to be a hockey player every day, including the offseason.
“The biggest reason for the move to the back end is trust. Coaches always look to players they trust to do a job, and he has earned that opportunity. He does such a good job away from the puck creating turnovers and has really immersed himself offensively the past year that putting him on the back end at times brings us even more depth to the younger core.”
As for raising the national championship banner? Can that lead to more success this season?
“I don’t think I will ever lose that feeling of not only winning, but winning with a great group of guys,” said Thornton. “I hope to accomplish many things by the end of the season. One thing I want is always to win and to win at the end. Second thing is I hope to develop as a player with more hockey sense and more skill. Third is I hope to find out what I want to do with my life, either going to school or playing another year of juniors.”
Thornton said skating in a Jets uniform and being involved in the team’s culture has been a godsend.
“They provide a full workout room where you can ask questions on what to do and what to eat to make you healthier, and it’s the morning practices that allow you to have the whole day off to do what you need to do, from work to just everyday hobbies,” explained Thornton. “We have a goalie coach (Randy Wilson) that will let you come out whenever you can to help your game while also working on the goalies’ games. You have coaches that will help you answer questions about hockey and about your life, but sometimes it’s not what they provide. It’s also what you can provide for them. Talking to them about schools helps them to know what schools to contact.
“It’s not what they provide now, it’s what they do after that everyone loves because everyone knows once you’re a Jet, you’re always a Jet.”
Tag(s): In the News