#USPHLNationals Team Preview Series: Metro Jets

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


Six years as a member of the USPHL Premier Conference have yielded USPHL Nationals trips, but they are still looking for the highest glory. They’ve made the National Championship game twice, but have fallen just short in each of 2019 and 2023. 

The Jets, within the time they’ve been in the league, are the all-time leaders in USPHL Premier winning percentage following the 2023-24 regular season (.874 off of a 225-29-7-1 record since 2018-19). That’s all well and good to the organization, but it’s not a National Championship. The veteran Nationals organization knows just how tough it is in this grinder of a tournament.

“All 16 teams have a chance to win. This is a very tough format. It’s six games of tough, playoff hockey played in six days. It’s not necessarily the best team that will win, it will be the team that plays best that day,” said Jets Associate Head Coach Jamie Lovell. “You need to be focused, get your rest when you can, and probably have a little luck too. We look forward to the challenge. It’s the best time of year for our players.” 

The Jets, who won their fifth Great Lakes Division title in their six seasons, were able to take a bye past the first round as the No. 1 seed. They drew the No. 5 Buffalo Stampede, who defeated the No. 4 Columbus Mavericks in two games. Metro clinched the Nationals berth with a pair of double-digit goal wins against the Stampede. 

“We’re happy for our guys, but this is just one more step and a great opportunity for our players to showcase themselves against the best teams in the league,” said Lovell. “We’re a development league and our program prides itself in moving players on to the next level. The national tournament at the end of the season is the best platform for that type of exposure.

“We played well [against Buffalo]. We’ve played well all season long but will need to continue to elevate our game if we want to be successful in Utica. It’s a tough format with very little room for error,” Lovell added. 

The Jets come into Nationals with the third-most career man-games played in the Nationals field, at 1,726. Only the Florida Eels and Connecticut Jr. Rangers bring more career Premier games to the table in their rosters. 

The experienced has shone through all season, but in particular in the Buffalo series. Third-year Jets Alex Bedenko and Carson Finney (his first year being in the MJDP) each scored five points. At the same time, newcomers Jack Waldo (eight points in two games) and Lucas Cassel (five points in two games) were also at the forefront of the attack. 

Taylor White (15 saves) and Carson MacKenzie (14 saves) each had a shutout against Buffalo. With 12 regular season and playoff shutouts, White is tied with former Jet Will Augustine for the all-time career lead in the USPHL. 

All of these above stats and history don’t mean much when it comes to Nationals. Everyone is 0-0 going into the Seeding Round and you have two games to try to work your way to the top of a 16-team pack. That lends itself to some hard practices heading in. 

The Jets will face the Islanders Hockey Club on Thursday and the Minnesota Squatch on Friday. In their only meeting with one or the other, they defeated the Squatch decisively in a shutout at the USPHL Detroit Showcase. In other showdowns with Nationals teams, the Jets are 1-1 against their organizational brethren the Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP) and 3-1-0-0 against the other Great Lakes Division representative at Nationals, the Nashville Spartans. They’ve also defeated the Ontario Jr. Reign, Utica Jr. Comets, Florida Eels and – in an epic shootout win at the USPHL Tampa Showcase, the Charlotte Rush. 

“Nothing really changes for us. We approach each week the same throughout the season— which always centers around developing our players both on and off the ice,” said Lovell. “Fortunately for us, we have three teams all heading to Utica and we can recreate competition with controlled scrimmages, mini-games, and situational drills against each other.”