Growing up a fan of the Quad City Jr. Flames, Michael Meadows had aspirations of one day suiting up for his hometown team.
That “one day” happened last September when he made the Jr. Flames out of training camp and has been the team’s No. 1 goaltender much of the season.
“It was definitely a goal to play for the junior team out of high school,” said Meadows. “I wasn’t sure I’d make it this year (as a senior), but I went to tryouts and was basically offered a spot right then and there. I think by making the Jr. Flames, I proved more to myself and realized that I was definitely one of those types of players that can play past high school.”
With a 17-12-2 record going into this weekend, Meadows said numbers are always a plus, but not something he reads too much into.
“Back in September and October, I was still getting a feel for the junior game,” Meadows said. “Then in November, that was a good month. I got on a good roll and started to get a handle on things. Looking back on my first game, though, I was out there stumbling around. It just wasn’t pretty at all. It’s been a lot better since.”
A native of southern Mississippi, Meadows started playing inline hockey at the age of seven and only took to the ice when he was 12. But through all the years, he’s always been a goalie.
“The first day of (inline) practice, the coach said he needed a goalie, so I volunteered,” said Meadows. “I guess the rest is history.”
Ironically, too, is the fact that Matt Truninger is two years Meadows’ senior, but is Quad City’s backup this year.
“Truninger and I push each other and I really don’t see him as my backup, to be honest,” Meadows said. “I remember seeing him play for the high school team (Quad City Blues) and now for the junior team, so I guess I’m following in his footsteps. More than anything, we take a lot from each other and try to learn from each other. We’re tight off the ice and it makes for a good relationship on the ice as well.”
Like most goalies, Meadows has his share of superstitions, but said one is to not talk about too many of them.
“It’s not anything too weird, but if we’re on a winning streak, I won’t shave, things like that,” said Meadows. “I pretty much go with the flow and keep to myself. Sometimes things backfire. Like a while back, we were winning, so I didn’t change my dress socks. Then we lost two straight and I stopped wearing those socks. You know how it goes. You just have to go with what works.”
With three weeks left in the NA3HL season, Meadows and the Jr. Flames are on the bubble when it comes to making the playoffs. The eternal optimist, Meadows thinks when the final eight in the standings are left, Quad City will indeed be one of them.
“It’s a nice thing this year in that my spring break is a week before playoffs start,” explained Meadows. “I’ll have a little bit more time to prepare and to get ready to make a run. I’m only one guy, but I’ll do what I can and we’ll just see what happens.”
That’s also his mentality for playing the game of hockey.
“I feel that I love hockey enough that it can take me far as it can,” said Meadows. “I want hockey to be my life.”
BATTLE CREEK JR. REVOLUTION: Battle Creek closes out the home portion of their season Saturday night against Flint.
CHICAGO HITMEN: Of Anthony Domico’s 53 points this year, 21 have come on the power play (eight goals, 13 assists). He also has three shorthanded goals and one shorthanded assist.
CLEVELAND JR. LUMBERJACKS: John Jeziorowski has points in three of his last four games (goal, four assists).
FLINT JR. GENERALS: Goalie Peter Emery has won his last five starts, including a two-game sweep over Quad City at home last weekend.
METRO JETS: Matt Stirling missed his first game last Sunday, but for good reason as he played for Team Black at the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.
MICHIGAN MOUNTAIN CATS: Jacob Endicott had a goal and an assist last weekend against Pittsburgh.
PEORIA MUSTANGS: Michael Czupryn registered his first shutout of the season last Saturday with a 20-save outing against Battle Creek. It was also his first game since Oct. 17 when he stopped 17 Metro shots in a 6-4 win.
PITTSBURGH JR. PENGUINS: Ben Hanus has seven points over his last three games on four goals and three assists.
QUAD CITY JR. FLAMES: Alexander June has a goal and four assists for five points in his eight games with Quad City since joining the team on Jan. 19.
QUEEN CITY STEAM: Eight skaters had multi-point games in the Steam’s 11-3 win over Metro last Sunday afternoon.
ST. LOUIS JR. BLUES: Defenseman Joe Bowler and forward Ryan Hogland are the only two players to dress for all 40 games this season.
TOLEDO CHEROKEE: Captain Chad Tickner tallied a hat trick last Sunday afternoon against Cleveland. He added an assist for a four-point game, his fourth multi-point game in his last five games overall.