#USPHLPlayoffs: Metro Jets Development Program vs. Motor City Gamblers

#USPHLPlayoffs: Metro Jets Development Program vs. Motor City Gamblers

Midwest East Division 

Motor City Gamblers (5) at Metro Jets Development Program (1) 

All Games At Mount Clemens Ice Arena, Mount Clemens, MI

Sunday, March 10, 2:30 p.m. EST

Monday, March 11, 2 p.m. EST

Tuesday, March 12, 2 p.m. EST (If Necessary)


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 

The Metro Jets Development Program has been just as regular a team as their fellow USPHL Premier brethren in the Metro Jets team in the Great Lakes Division. MJDP made three straight trips between 2021 and 2023 and hope for four in a row. 

Prior to some tough years earlier in this decade, the Motor City Gamblers were part of the first two Nationals in 2018 and 2019. They’re hoping for a renaissance in a resurgence that began with a drastic improvement in 2022-23. 

GM Chase Crawshaw is excited about the prospects of bringing a more experienced and skilled team potentially to Nationals than Motor City has had in five years. 

“We are looking at our older guys to continue to lead us through this series,” said Crawshaw. “Leaning on forwards such as Shaun Zatelli and Brian Bell as well as our defensive core driven by Jake Mullins will give us a chance in any series. Logan Givens played extremely well in relief last series against Chicago, and I know he and the rest of our goalies, whoever has their name called, will be ready to help us battle this weekend.” 

While the Gamblers defeated the Chicago Cougars in two games – winning the second in OT – the MJDP won the Midwest East regular season title and earned the first round bye. 

“You know for us I expect full 60-minute, 200-foot efforts that is tough to play against,” said Associate Head Coach Jake Howie. “Motor City is a very pesky team that just keeps coming. This series will probably have a good amount of physicality and should be a fun playoff series. But overall, we’re just really excited for the opportunity in front of our group and a chance to punch a ticket to Nationals.”

MJDP put up a 4-1-0-1 record during the season series against Motor City. The Gamblers won 2-1 in January, the only one-goal game between the teams. 

“For MJDP, we don’t want to change anything. We want to show up to the rink ready to work everyday and staying consistent. With it being playoff hockey now, we’re putting an emphasis on being hard to play against in the dirty areas of the ice, and just being really sound defensively to give Motor City nothing offensively,” said Howie. “And lastly, there’s a huge emphasis on special teams in playoff hockey. Not only staying disciplined and not giving them chances on the power play, but killing off the chances we do give them, and then capitalizing when we get our shot on the power play.”

Gamblers Head Coach Jason McCrimmon certainly liked what he saw from his team in the series against the Cougars. 

“I think our guys went on the road and performed really well on both sides of the puck in game one. They showed heart and grit in the second game to battle back from three down,” he said. “I really feel we are rolling into the this series with the momentum needed to put us in great position.” 

Motor City has some strong program veterans, such as 2023 All-Star and second-year forward Brian Bell, who’s scored 44 points in 42 games. Bell is the No. 1 center, winning 61 percent of his total draws (467 wins). Bell also posted five points in the two playoff games so far to lead the way. 

Returning forward Shaun Zatelli improved from 27 points last year to 42 this year. Veteran defenseman and returning All-Star Jake Mullins was good for 35 points in 30 games this year, giving him 118 points in 99 games over three Premier seasons. Zatelli had four points against the Cougars and both Mullins and Angelo Massaro had three points. 

Dustin Fretter, who joined the Gamblers from the Toledo Cherokee – a 2023 Nationals team – was the team’s leader in plus-minus at +8. First-year ‘05 defenseman Brody Vachon led the Gamblers in blocked shots with 47. 

The tale of the tape in net features some very good goaltenders. The Gamblers welcomed back Robert Allport, who had played the full season in 2022-23 before joining the Casper Roughnecks this year. He was reacquired after the New Year and went 5-3-0-0 with a .920 save percentage back with the Gamblers. 

Allport and Logan Givens both earned wins for their team. 

Leading MJDP this year were three 40-point scorers in Austin Combs (45 points), Royal St-Cyr (43) and defenseman Jake Taylor (40). Andrew Parmentier and Austin Muirhead each had 15 wins this year, and Muirhead led with a .939, while Parmentier put up .921.