Ian Costello is proof of the old adage, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
Standing just 5-foot-9 and tipping the scales at about 150 pounds, Costello has played in 20 games this year for the Jets and performed well enough to where Metro Jets head coach Jason Cirone has plans for his 17-year-old defenseman next year.
“I’d take 25 Ian Costellos if I could, 25 kids with hearts bigger than they actually are,” Cirone said. “Ian’s not a big kid, but he plays like he’s the size of (Jets captain) Morgan James (6-foot-4, 255 pounds). Every shift of every game, he doesn’t take any shifts off and that’s why he’s in the lineup. I’m excited to see what he’ll bring next season.”
Costello, a Lansing , Mich. , native, was originally going to skate for the Grand Rapids Jr. Owls this season, but when the franchise was sold and later moved to Battle Creek, Costello wanted an option close to home and made that choice come to light with a simple phone call.
“My dad and I called up Coach and asked if I could come out to their practice to show him what I could offer to the team and I guess I did something right,” said Costello, who played last year for the Grand Rapids Griffins' AAA Midget Minor squad. “I made the team and played with them for the whole year. It was great being able to play juniors at a young age. It was also a great experience to play in a high-level league with some great players. All this is making me a better player and I hope to get better every year so I can keep moving up.”
Aside from playing half the season as a 16-year-old and sitting out the first month and change after taking an inadvertent skate to his armpit from teammate Mike Denston, Costello knew what the situation was coming into the year and accepted it with maturity far greater than his birth certificate shows. He’s hoping this year will be a springboard to increased ice next fall.
”For playing in half of the games, I felt that I was played a good amount,” Costello said. “I kind of figured that I wasn’t going to play all the games. I have to work a lot harder than the guy I’m against because of the size. I think this year has made me a smarter player and made me also a quicker one. What I mean by that is when I have the puck, I have to already know what I’m going to do with it before I actually get because if I don’t, I’ll be put into the nickel seats.
”I feel that my strongest part of my game is the ability to work as hard as I can at what I do such as play forward, penalty kill or power play. I have been told I see the ice really well, too.”
With a heart as big as his, expect Costello to see even more of the ice in 2011-12.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets closed out their home schedule with a 7-5 loss Saturday night at Lakeland Arena to the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks.
Veteran forward Brett Grech, in his final home game, scored twice for the Jets, while Mike Moroso and Justin Bennett each had a goal and an assist and Matt Stemkoski scored the other goal.
“I thought Grech had a great game for his last home game and played like it,” Cirone said. “All the usual suspects played well. All the guys that seem to show-up did. As for the other guys, I don’t know what they’re waiting on. We have four games left and they look like they’re waiting for something to happen. They’re in for a surprise when it’s Game 45 and nobody’s called and nobody’s looking at them.”
Tommy Kilgore and Matt Stirling chipped in two assists apiece for Metro and Matt Braun finished with 45 saves in goal.
Matt Zaremba and Joe Sposit paced the Cleveland attack with two goals and an assist each.
“The first period, I thought we played well and our goalie kept us in it,” said Cirone. “Then there was about a nine-minute stretch in the second period where we didn’t play disciplined and took some bad penalties that killed us and cost us four goals. Then we get into the third period and win the third period, 3-2. Our lack of discipline and the lack of our defense wanting to do their job cost us again.”
The Jets travel to Cleveland for two games this weekend at Ice Land U.S.A. Game time is 9 p.m. Saturday night and 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Metro finishes out the regular season next weekend with a pair at Quad City .
“There is always something to play for and our kids have to understand that,” said Cirone. “Someone is always watching. You can’t hide in this sport.”
Three of the five 1990 birthdates on the Metro roster had points in their final home game last Saturday night - Grech with the two goals, Bennett with a goal and an assist and James with an assist. Of the other two, defenseman Mike Corder was solid on the back end and forward Tommy Burns didn’t play.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Steve Oleksy, who manned the Jets’ blueline in 2004-05, was called up to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
Oleksy, a 25-year-old from Chesterfield , Mich. , had been playing for the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, where he recorded seven goals and 21 points in 55 games this season.