Justin Bennett found instant chemistry on his forward line with Mike Denston for a number of reasons.
Though the line for the Metro Jets needed a bit of time to gel, once that happened, it’s been smooth sailing.
"Anytime you have new guys from different systems thrown together, there is a rocky start, but me and Denny have picked up each other’s playing styles and know where the other is going to be on the ice at all times,” said Bennett, a native of Brighton, Mich. “Plus, Denny and Benny (each of their nicknames) rhyme.”
With just two goals and seven points thus far, Bennett, who turns 20 the day after Christmas, is more than just points for the Jets.
“Benny is a great leader for us and it was an easy decision when the coaches picked the captains before the season started,” Metro general manager Butch Wolfe said. “He’s also been improving in his own end of the rink.”
An assistant captain, Bennett said when he was given the "A" it was a bit of a shock at first.
“I was happily surprised to be named a captain of the Jets,” Bennett said. “I had only been a captain before and never an assistant, but I was eager to take on the role. As a leader, my job is to not show panic and to not overextend my role - just lead by example and the rest will fall into place.
After playing last season for a community college in New York, Bennett left school in search of finding a team to play for in his last year of junior eligibility.
Enter veteran Jets forward Brett Grech.
”I knew about the Jets through Grechy, a longtime pal of mine, who lured me here after things went sour with college,” said Bennett. “I’m glad he did that for me.”
Wolfe is glad, too.
“I know Justin wants to play Division III hockey next year and he certainly has the talent to do so,” said Wolfe. “I believe coming here will get him the exposure he needs to reach that goal.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets (7-11-0-0) had last weekend off, but host the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins at Lakeland Arena this weekend for a pair of games.
Game time Saturday night is 7:50 p.m. with a 1:20 p.m. matinee scheduled for Sunday.
“We are fighting to get back to .500, move up in the standings and start a new win streak,” said Metro captain Mike Corder. “Getting all four points is the expectation. I also expect that we will not let up in the games, even for one shift. I expect us to limit their scoring chances. I expect us to throw everything we have at Pittsburgh and then to throw more. Coach (Jason) Cirone expects a lot from the team, the team expects a lot from itself, and I expect a lot from the team.”
Pittsburgh, in just its second season in the NA3HL, won all four meetings last season against the Jets.
“This slump shouldn't continue with all the talent we have,” added Bennett. “We need to just crack down defensively and bury on our opportunities.”
Metro acquired defenseman Matt Stemkoski from the Toledo Cherokee last week and the 18-year-old Novi, Mich., native is expected to make his Jets debut this weekend. Stemkoski had a goal and four assists in 14 games this year in Toledo … Goalie Allan Dowler (Oxford, Ohio), released by the Jets last month, was added to the roster of the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution Thursday.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Tyler Sims, a goalie on the 2002-2003 Metro team, is now in his third pro season and first with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.
Sims, 25, also played four years at Providence College from 2004-2008 and one season in the North American Hockey League with the Youngstown Phantoms in 2003-2004.