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#USPHLPlayoffs: Metro Jets vs. Decatur Blaze

Midwest Division 

Decatur Blaze (6) at Metro Jets (1) 

All Games To Be Played At Mount Clemens Ice Arena, Mount Clemens, MI

Sunday, March 10, 12 p.m. EST

Monday, March 11, 11:30 a.m. EST

Tuesday, March 12, 11:30 a.m. EST (If Necessary) 

 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL Elite

 

The Metro Jets are looking for an organizational trifecta for the first time. After three straight years of the Metro Jets-MJDP duo making it to the USPHL Nationals, the Jets for the first time have a chance to bring three teams to the “big dance.” 

This is the first season of the USPHL Elite’s Midwest Division, and thus the first season of the Metro Jets Elite team, along with that of their opponents, the Decatur Blaze. The Blaze also have a Premier team within their organization, one that earned the organization’s only Nationals berth in 2020, before that year’s Nationals were canceled. 

The two teams come together after very different seasons, with the Jets finishing at 31-12-2-1 for 63 points, while Decatur’s Elite team was only able to win once during the regular season before eking out two first round wins against the No. 3 seed Motor City Gamblers last week. 

The Jets, by virtue of finishing first in the division, earned a first round bye.  

“We are fortunate that we earned a weekend off by winning the division,” said Jets Associate Head Coach Tina Ciraulo. “We took advantage of the break to heal up and focus on approaching our first playoff series. For many of our guys this is their first taste of playoffs, so we have been prepping for this for a while now and the guys are excited.” 

During the regular season, the series went entirely to the Jets, 7-0, but the Blaze did push them once to overtime, as recently as Feb. 3, when the Jets won 3-2. 

The Jets finished the season as the only team with three players in the top 10 of league scoring, led by Peter Spiridonakos (83 points), Blake Botterill (66 points) and Peter’s twin brother John Spiridonakos (64 points). Defenseman Avery Byron, with 30 points, was one of four defensemen to register at least 20 points. In net, always a strong point across the Jets organization, saw Elliot Duerr finish 9-5-0-0 and Zachary Robert finish 11-4-1-0, with save percentages of .916 and .911, respectively. 

The Blaze’s leading scorer in the playoffs Jakub Tomecek was acquired from the Premier’s Hudson Havoc and played in five Blaze Elite games before registering four points in the two-game playoff series. Morgan Heck, who played in 18 games for the Elite season, went 2-0 in net against the Gamblers after stopping 79 of 88 shots during the season. 

We know this is a different Decatur team than what we have seen all season. Our concern is “our approach to details and the most important is to stay disciplined,” added Ciraulo. “They are riding a high coming off an upset in their first series and our job is to ensure it stops with us.”

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