#USPHLNationals Elite Team Preview: Metro Jets

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com 


The Metro Jets’ first-year USPHL Elite program had quite the blueprint to work off of. They were borne of an organization that has been one of the most successful in the USPHL Premier. In fact, the Jets’ Premier team has the all-time best winning percentage in regular season play at .874. 

The Jets organization has had three junior teams before, as they fielded the Jets, the Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP) and Metro Hockey Club (MHC) in 2020-21, but this is the first time the Jets have fielded an Elite team. They were very successful in winning the inaugural Midwest Elite title at 31-12-1-0.

In the playoffs, they faced a Decatur Blaze team that had several players with USPHL Premier experience, but were just able to edge the Blaze in two overtime games, 5-4 and 3-2, on March 10 and 11. 

“Earning a sweep in our divisional play was impressive given the challenge they faced with a strong Decatur lineup. It was a test our players knew would be a challenge, but they kept to the game plan and were rewarded for it,” said Tina Ciraulo, the Jets Elite Associate Head Coach. “We are excited for our guys with all the work they put in this season. They bought into the process and developed over the season to prepare for an opportunity like this. It was truly a full team effort from top to bottom.”

The twins John and Peter Spiridonakos put up five and four points, respectively. McKenna Baker scored three points, including an OT goal. Hunter Folgmann had the other overtime winner. 

In net, Elliot Duerr made 50 saves on 52 shots, and Zachary Robert stopped 29 of 33 in net. While the Elite players are new to the Nationals, the Jets staff have, in some cases, six years of experience at that level. 

“We are fortunate that we have experience in playing for National titles,” said Ciraulo, who joined the Jets coaching staff in 2020-21. That year, with MHC, she became the first female head coach of a USPHL Premier team. “Therefore, we have been using our model to continue to work on things and with our other Jets teams attending, it gives us a chance to use different inter-squad practices to touch on details. [The 10-day break] also allows our guys to properly heal up those end of the year bumps and bruises to be 100 percent heading into Nationals.”

Against the Jets in the Seeding Round will be the Atlanta MadHatters and Potomac Patriots, certainly two tough customers. The Jets fell 2-0 to the MadHatters in the USPHL Tampa Showcase in January. The Jets went 5-2-0-0 against the other Midwest Elite representatives the Chicago Crush. They also took losses, however, to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, the Islanders Hockey Club and Tampa Bay Juniors. 

“We know all the teams will be strong. We stay loyal to our players and have not added any Premier players,” Ciraulo said. “So we are hoping our consistency and chip on our shoulder playing these teams will give us an edge.”