#USPHLNationals Premier Team Preview: Metro Jets Development Program

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


The Metro Jets Development Program saw just how much fun their organizational brethren the Metro Jets had in making the Nationals and the National Championship Game in 2019, they just had to join them. 

Since 2021, a year after the Jets also qualified for the eventually canceled 2020 Nationals, the Jets have continued to make their presence known at the Nationals – and the MJDP has qualified with them four straight times now.

“We are excited for our group to have another chance to qualify for Premier Nationals, and it is a testament to the hard work that has been put in day in day out this season,” said Jake Howie, the Associate Head Coach of the MJDP. “But at the end of the day, we also know that making Nationals isn’t the end goal, but more of a step on the path to the ultimate goal of winning a National Championship.”

This year, as with most years, that could go through their Jets brethren – but MJDP actually has taken a victory in that match-up. On Oct. 13, in the first-ever Jets vs. MJDP match-up, the MJDP won 3-2. The Jets got back at MJDP on Oct. 27, winning 6-0. 

From there, the MJDP continued to scratch and claw their way within the Midwest East Division until finally in February, they finished with the title, just two points ahead of fellow Nationals qualifiers the Fort Wayne Spacemen. The MJDP and Spacemen are the Midwest East representatives for a second straight year.  

With the division title in hand, the MJDP got a bye past the first round and ended up facing the No. 5 seed Motor City Gamblers, who had upset the No. 4 Chicago Cougars to draw MJDP. The MJDP then left little doubt who was in charge at the home Mount Clemens Ice Arena, winning 5-0 and 8-5 last Sunday and Monday. 

“We were happy with the way we played in our playoff series against Motor City,” said Howie. “I thought we played with a lot of pace and managed the puck well, which in turn gave us a lot of good offensive looks. We played 200 feet and made Motor City earn their opportunities, and our special teams continued to be really good, which you need in playoff hockey.”

The Jets and MJDP have one of the busiest travel schedules of the entire USPHL, going to four very different showcases. They went this year to the USPHL Las Vegas Showcase, the USPHL Tampa Showcase and the Northern Cyclones Showcase in Hudson, N.H. This is in addition to hosting their own USPHL Detroit Showcase in November. So, they’ve already gotten experience against a wide array of Nationals qualifiers. 

Along with a 1-1 mark against the Jets and 1-2-0-1 against the Fort Wayne Spacemen, they’ve gotten a regulation win against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, taken a shootout loss to the Bold City Battalion, and fallen in regulation to the Utica Jr. Comets and Islanders Hockey Club to 3-5-0-2 against Nationals qualifiers. 

They will get a chance for revenge against the Florida Eels, who defeated MJDP in an edge-of-seat 1-0 shootout at the 2023 Nationals. That is on Friday, while they’ll open with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights on Thursday. 

“The fun part about Nationals is you’re going to play the best of the best from across the entire country,” said Howie. “Every team has had to fight and earn their right to be in Utica, and now we’re left with 16 of the best teams across the country, all looking for a chance to lift the trophy at the end.”

At Nationals, watch for Austin Combs, who was otherworldly in putting up eight points in just two games against Motor City. Lucas Millmine was right behind at seven points, and Jacques Lavrack registered five points from the blue line. Defenseman Jake Taylor was No. 4 in scoring with three points in two games. 

Across the Jets organization, a lot of success comes from outstanding goaltending depth. Andrew Parmentier registered the shutout with 26 saves, and Austin Muirhead stopped 27 of 32 in the 8-5 victory. 

All these players went back to work after the series victory against Motor City, with just 10 days between games. 

“For us getting ready for Nationals, nothing changes. We come to the rink everyday looking to work hard and get better,” said Howie. “Our process is to develop our players for their next steps in their career and that doesn’t change whether it’s September or March.”