Jets players Drinkard and Naumovski get call to the NAHL
January 27, 2016
By Matt Mackinder, Metro Jets
The Kenai River Brown Bears have made the call to the Metro Jets.
The Alaska-based Brown Bears are hoping Jets forward Jacob Drinkard and defenseman Dylan Naumovski can breathe some fresh air into the North American Hockey League club, calling them up this week to showcase their talents.
Drinkard is a three-year NA3HL veteran, while Naumovski played juniors in Canada last year before suiting up for Metro this season.
Both have been key contributors to the Jets’ success this year, but as Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville has reiterated time and time again, development and advancement is the name of the game in the NA3HL.
"It never gets old getting to tell these young men when an opportunity has come up,” Quenneville said. “I believe our program has that success because we are fortunate to have an experienced staff that can provide the tools to prepare them. In addition, none of these opportunities are available without the support of ownership allowing you to operate the right way. ‘Drinks’ and ‘Nemo’ both deserve this opportunity and with another year of junior eligibility under their belts, this could be just what they need to showcase their abilities to play at that level. Scouts at every level are always watching us, and timing is everything.
“These two young men have shown a lot lately and we wish them the best of luck."
In Kenai River, Drinkard, a 19-year-old Lapeer, Mich., native, will be reunited with head coach Jeff Worlton, formerly the head coach of the since-moved Flint Jr. Generals when Drinkard skated there in 2013-14.
“Coach Q has had a good relationship with Coach Worlton and with him getting the coaching job in Kenai, that allowed me to have an opportunity to come up and show what I can bring to them,” said Drinkard, an assistant captain with the Jets. “With the great coaching staff at Metro, that has really allowed me to develop my all-around game, as well with my teammates on Metro pushing me every day to better myself.”
So far this season, Drinkard has posted 17 goals and 39 points in 31 games.
“My expectations are to try and come in and be able to play my game and make an impact,” added Drinkard. “This is my first time in Alaska and I’m just trying to really get everything out of the experience here.”
Naumovski said getting the call to the NAHL was a happy ending to an anxious day at practice last week.
“Justin came up to me before practice Wednesday and told me he had to talk to me after,” explained Naumovski. “So that whole practice, I didn't know what to expect. Then he called me into the office and told me that an opportunity has come up for you. I didn't hesitate. I said ‘yes’ and that's when the journey began. ‘Q’ always pushes us as a team to be good enough to get pulled up.
“Everyone wants to excel to that level of play, but Q put the tools together to make us play as hard as we can to get potential opportunities, such as going to the NA.”
Naumovski, a 19-year-old Macomb, Mich., product, has five goals and 14 assists for 19 points in 25 games this year for the Jets.
Now in the NAHL, Naumovski is hoping to stay there for the long term.
“This should be a turning point in their season – bringing in a new coach and the quick changes of everything,” said Naumovski. “The team should start to win a lot more during the rest of this season. I've never been to Alaska before, but it takes a long day to fly all the way to Alaska, which to some is never fun. I found it as a new challenge and a new experience to add to my belt.”
Drinkard and Naumovski join goaltender Jacob Gwillim (Brookings Blizzard), forwards Mathias Tellstrom (Kenai River) and Carter Woolley (Aston Rebels) and defensemen Stefan Boskovic (Aston), David Chavis (Aston) and Marc Schwartz (Aston) as call-ups to NAHL clubs this season.
Boskovic also just won the bronze medal with Serbia at the Division 2B World Junior Championship last weekend in his homeland of Serbia.
Last summer, forward Ryan Bloom was the lone NA3HL player selected in the NAHL Entry Draft and he’s been with the Minnesota Wilderness all season.
In addition, Metro also moved forwards Alex Holm (NCAA Division III Finlandia University), Cody Jones (ACHA Adrian College) and Cooper McLean (ACHA Adrian College) and defenseman Tyler Layle (ACHA Aquinas College) to college programs for the 2015-16 season.
Two other players – forwards Pearce Vance (Aston) and Devin Kelly (Topeka RoadRunners) – signed NAHL tender agreements last offseason.