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After strong rookie year, Cruz returning to Jets' back end for '19-20 campaign

By Matt Mackinder, 08/12/19, 11:15PM EDT

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FRASER, Mich. – Matt Cruz has re-signed with the Metro Jets for his second USPHL season, solidifying the team’s back end moving forward into 2019-20.

Cruz came in as a 2000-born rookie last season and put up nine goals and nine assists for 18 points in 42 games.

A New Baltimore native, Cruz will again be a reliable stalwart on the Metro back end.

“The thought process of returning to the Jets was short and sweet, to say the least,” Cruz said. “I feel as a player and as a person, with the help from the coaching staff, I exceeded my expectations of improvement and I can only go up from here l. I am very excited to meet all of our new players and get to work on this season.”

“’Cruzy’ coming back is huge for our ‘D’ corps,” added Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “He is a dynamic player and loves coming to the rink every day. He won Most Valuable Defenseman at the international tournament last year in China and continued to develop as the season progressed. He has a great skill set and a quick release. He helps our style of play by moving the game north and doing it with speed. Having a year under his belt will help him out of the gates and we look forward to continue working with him."

Cruz also said that the Jets organization is at the top of the development ladder, not just in the USPHL, but in all of the country.

“To me, what makes the Jets different from the rest is the opportunities and resources they provide us with,” said Cruz. “There is so much extra you can do after practice whether it’s going out to eat with the team or mix in another workout after practice or shoot pucks for hours. One of my favorites is they provide us video from every game to help us see our mistakes and learn from them. Being around your teammates all day, every day is just what every hockey player loves.”

Getting better on a daily basis is also on Cruz’s agenda for the 2019-20 season.

“Individually, I am looking to become more of an active leader this year, being one of the veteran guys now,” Cruz said. “Our older guys last year set a great example for us so I’m looking to use what they gave me to my advantage to help our team achieve what we came so close to last year, which is a national championship.”