Andrew Shalawylo hasn’t found his name on the scoresheet yet this season for the Metro Jets, but that’s not nearly an indication of what he’s contributed to the team and to his individual development.
A stay-at-home defenseman, Shalawylo made the jump from Midget AA hockey to the Jets this year and, while he faced a major learning curve at the start of the season, he feels now that he’s comfortable playing at the Junior A level.
”I definitely feel like I’ve acclimated to the speed and size of the junior game,” said Shalawylo. “It was a big jump, but I feel like I made the adjustment fairly quickly and was able to focus on trying to solidify my game all around. Those were definitely the two big things that I had to get used to.”
The 18-year-old native of Clinton Township, Mich., started off the season with the Toledo Cherokee, but the situation there was “pretty claustrophobic with a packed roster,” said Shalawylo.
“So when coach (Scott) Syring let me know that the Jets were looking for some defensemen to fill out their roster, I came up to Lakeland and it ended up being a great fit for me.”
And even if he hasn’t dressed for every game, Shalawylo has still seen his share of highlights on the ice this season when he has played.
“Personally, my first two games with the Jets in Cincinnati were highlights,” said Shalawylo. “For some reason, I really felt like things were clicking and I just had an absolute blast all weekend. As a team, sweeping Quad City was great, but I think the highest point was our shootout victory over Chicago. The whole game just had so much energy, and I really think we came together as a team to pull that off. It was a lot of fun.”
Shalawylo, in order to continue having fun playing hockey at higher levels, knows what he needs to do to keep climbing the ladder of development. He also knows it’s one rung at a time.
”I definitely need to work on my hands a lot more,” Shalawylo explained. “There’s been a lot of time spent in the basement lately dealing with that. I know I’m also a bit on the small side for a defenseman (5-foot-8, 170 pounds), so I’ve also been logging a lot of hours in the gym to put some size to me. On the flip side, I feel like my greatest asset is my work ethic.
”If I'm able to use hockey to get myself a college education, I would be ecstatic. In the shorter term, I’d like to be able to move up to the NAHL next season. I believe that would force me to push myself even harder, which would be a good thing for me.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets snapped out of a two-game losing skid by sweeping the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution at Lakeland Arena over the weekend.
Saturday night, Matt Stirling led the way with a hat trick and Brett Grech assisted on all three goals in the 5-2 win. Matt Stemkoski scored the other two goals for the Jets, while Eric Trunick made 27 saves in goal.
For the rematch Sunday afternoon, three different players scored for Metro and Tommy Burns’ power-play goal 21 seconds into the third period stood as the game-winner in a 3-1 victory.
Dan Hudson and Jacob Schlacht, with his first goal of the season, also scored to back another 27-save outing from Trunick.
The Jets are now off this coming weekend before hosting Toledo on Saturday, Jan. 29 at Lakeland and then traveling to Battle Creek the following afternoon.
With the two victories last weekend, the Jets are now 11-19-1-0 and have bettered their win total from the past three seasons (nine in ’07-08, seven in ’08-09, 10 in ’09-10). The last time Metro won more than 11 games was during the 2006-2007 season when 13 wins were enough for a playoff berth that year.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Dustin Cloutier, a forward for the Jets during the 2002-2003 season, is now a senior at Division I Bentley College in Waltham, Mass.
The 24-year-old Berkley, Mich., native has five goals and 13 points in 19 games this season for the Falcons and 34 goals and 48 assists over his career with Bentley.
Cloutier also played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL in 2005-2006 and then for the NAHL’s Mahoning Valley Phantoms the following year, where the Phantoms finished second in the Robertson Cup championship tournament. His 42 goals and 83 points were both tops for the Phantoms that season.