Dan Hudson led Chelsea High School in scoring last year and, after being drafted by the Metro Jets last year, signed with the team with the hopes of being a big-time scorer in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
Hudson has been among the top 10 scorers much of the year for the Jets and entering this weekend his 12 goals and 21 points rank sixth among all Metro skaters.
While stats may not be all there is to looking at Hudson, he feels his game has developed this season under the Jets’ coaching staff to the point where he can crack a North American Hockey League roster next fall.
“(Metro head coach) Jason (Cirone) is a great coach, as are all of our assistants,” said Hudson. “Jason’s goal all year long has to be able to move us to the next level. He makes that clear everyday. I think we’ve all learned so much from him. I mean, he played pro hockey for almost 20 years and the knowledge he has of the game is just tremendous.”
Hudson, a 19-year-old Gregory, Mich., native, admittedly didn’t know much about the NA3HL or even junior hockey for that matter when the Jets drafted him last May, but once his coach at Chelsea explained the process of how junior hockey works, Hudson took a look at what the Jets could offer and quickly signed on the dotted line.
“Metro is one of the closer teams to where I’m from and when I looked at my options, I realized I could come here and develop,” said Hudson. “It’s been everything I hoped for and then some. I went to a few junior camps last summer and kind of had it in my head that I was ready for the NAHL and I wasn’t. I think by playing for Metro this year that I’ll be ready for the NAHL next season.”
Hudson started this season on a line with Brett Grech and Tommy Burns, but is now playing with Cameron Bazin and Travis Hargett.
“When I was with Grech and Burns, we put up a lot of points,” explained Hudson. “Now that I’m with Bazin and Hargett, we’re starting to click, too. We’re still working out some kinks, but all three of us are really connecting.”
At the start of the year, Hudson said he set some modest personal goals he felt were within reach, but even though he’s not at his goal yet, the development his game has undergone doesn’t show up in numbers.
“I think I’ve improved in the defensive zone and as a defensive centerman,” Hudson said. “I’ve always been good on the cycle and at breaking down the slot and that’s been an area where I’ve improved this season. I think if I’m going to make an NAHL team next year, I’ll need to work on my skating and get a little faster.
“I feel I’ve gotten better this year and can continue to get better. If I want to move up, that’s the only way.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets played two tough games on the road in St. Louis last weekend, but dropped both to the Jr. Blues, including a heartbreaker Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, the two teams were tied, 2-2, going into the third period, but Cooper Mitchell broke the tie at 18:19and then Bo Eastman iced it at 19:54 to give St. Louis, the defending Tier III Junior A national champions, a 4-2 win.
Matt Stirling, with his team-best 20th goal, and Hudson scored for the Jets, while Matt Braun finished with 36 saves in net.
Saturday afternoon, Mike Moroso scored Metro’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss.
Braun made 34 saves suffering the defeat.
This weekend, the Jets (12-22-1-0) travel to Flint on Saturday night and then host Flint Sunday afternoon for a 1:20 p.m.puck drop at Lakeland Arena.
Metro didn’t make any trades at the NA3HL trade deadline last Sunday, but added two forwards in Shane Halaas (Chesterfield, Mich.) and the returning Tommy Kilgore (Pinckney, Mich.) and released forward Matt Elswick (Gaylord, Mich.).
Kilgore started the season with the Jets, but was signed by the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons on Jan. 28 and played three games in Port Huron. Halaas also began the season in Port Huron, registering two goals and three assists in 26 games before being released on Jan. 7.
Elswick posted three goals and seven points in 22 games for the Jets.
Stirling was named Thursday to play in the NA3HL Top Prospects Game, which will be played on Monday, Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Mich. Former Jets’ defenseman Tyler Schofield (2008-2010), now with the Michigan Mountain Cats, was also named to play in the game.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Former Metro defenseman Colin Ronayne, who played for the Jets during the 2005-2006 season, is finishing up his senior season with Oakland University’s ACHA Division I team.
Ronayne, a Commerce, Mich., native, was named captain of the Grizzlies this year and has recorded three goals and six assists for nine points in 33 games with OU this season.
After playing for the Jets, Ronayne spent one season with the Syracuse Stars of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League.