Brett Grech has had many opportunities to move on to higher levels of hockey, but, admittedly, he hasn’t been ready to leave the comfy confines of home or the homey feeling of Lakeland Arena.
That may change next season.
Grech is in his fifth season with the Metro Jets and has matured physically, emotionally and athletically since he entered the North American 3 Hockey League (then Central States Hockey League) as a pudgy 16-year-old back in 2006.
“The years have definitely flown by,” said Grech. “But it’s been a lot of fun. I’m not 100 percent sure where I’m going to school next year, but I will definitely be playing hockey.”
Over the span of his junior career, Grech has seen time at both forward and defense and excelled at both.
“I mean, I just play what position I need to,” said Grech, a 20-year-old from Hartland, Mich. “Hockey is hockey. It’s all fun to me. You just work hard and the rest is the easy part.”
“Grechy has been a very versatile guy for us,” added Metro general manager Butch Wolfe. “Anywhere he plays he produces and does it with no complaints whatsoever. He’s been one of our leaders for a number of years now. A few college coaches have called me inquiring about Brett and I have had nothing but rave reviews for them. Wherever he goes next year, that school will be getting a heck of a hockey player and an even better person.”
Grech has seen his share of players come and go through the Lakeland doors in five years and said that fact alone is what he’ll remember most about his time in Waterford.
”The most memorable part of being here to me is being in locker room around all the guys,” Grech said. “My first year we went to the playoffs and it was awesome.”
Metro is still in the hunt for a playoff spot this season, but, either way, you can bet Grech will walk out of Lakeland with a smile on his face and a plan for the future.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Metro last played on Dec. 21 and earned a 6-4 win on the road against the Flint Jr. Generals.
Tommy Kilgore and Matt Stirling each scored twice, while Grech and Dan Hudson added singles to back Eric Trunick’s 46-save performance in goal.
This weekend, the Jets (9-17-1-0) travel to Pittsburgh to face the Jr. Penguins.
Pittsburgh swept the Jets at Lakeland Arena back on Nov. 20-21, though Metro did earn a point in their 3-2 overtime loss in the first game of that series.
The Jr. Penguins (17-11-0-0) are led offensively by the top line of Jayson Angus (24 goals), Charles Williams (20 goals) and David Dinnison (17 goals). On defense, Mike Kretz has 24 points and three other blueliners have 10 points or more. In goal, Collin LeMay has 10 wins and a shutout and was just returned from the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League.
Pittsburgh is also second in the league with 140 goals scored.
Last year, Pittsburgh’s first in the league, saw the Jr. Penguins win all four meetings against the Jets.
The Jets added defenseman Kevin Lander (Brighton, Mich.) this week. Lander, who turns 20 on Jan. 21 and was a 2010 draft pick of the Jets, played 18 games for the Wisconsin Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League this season without registering a point, but accruing 32 penalty minutes.
Lander is now the sixth member of the 2010 Metro draft class to be on the 2010-2011 roster, joining forwards Josh Beleski (never played a game, later traded), Hudson, Kilgore and Stirling and defenseman Will Shier.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Scott Hughes, a Lathrup Village, Mich., native, was a goaltender for the Jets during their first season of 1989-1990 and is now a goalie equipment representative for Vaughn.