FRASER, Mich. – Cole Phillips came to the Metro Jets last season as a raw youngster oozing potential.
He wound up being one of the top defensemen on the MJDP team by season’s end.
Last week, the 2002 birth year from Dearborn Heights, Mich., signed with the Jets to return for his second season in Fraser.
“Metro is the place I need to be to keep progressing and accomplishing my goals,” Phillips said. “I know that there is no other place that can help me reach my full potential and get me to the next level more than Metro. If I had to pick one thing I improved on the most last year, it would be my IQ of the game as a whole. On the defensive side working with (Jets associate head coach) Jamie (Lovell) helped every aspect of my defensive game improve drastically.
“One thing I noticed as the season went on is that everything my coaches taught me transferred over into the games and helped me to excel.”
In 38 games last season, Phillips posted two goals and six points.
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said Phillips’ game took a turn for the better once he adjusted to junior hockey and gained immeasurable confidence.
“Cole was young and hungry to learn when he signed with us last year,” Quenneville said. “He had some adjustments to make early in the year, but he noticeably got stronger as the season progressed. He brings consistency every night from an effort standpoint and you know he will defend on the other side of the puck really well. What we liked the most out of Cole was his willingness to learn and how quickly he applied it in his game.
“He is hungry to continue to benefit from our environment and he will undoubtedly be an asset to this organization again this year. His versatility on the back end was an asset and we will look to build off that again early.”
In choosing to come back for a second season in Metro colors, Phillips noted how the Jets are more than just a junior hockey franchise.
“There is a multitude of reasons that make the Jets such a prestigious organization, but the biggest factor has to be the coaches,” Phillips said. “The Jets coaches are the best and they care more about their players than anyone I’ve ever played for. The second reason would be that not only are the Jets a team, but we’re a family and we’re there for each other, on and off the ice.”
At times during the 2019-20 season, Phillips said personal confidence was tough to come by, but he stuck to the process and picked himself up to wind up a valuable cog on the back end.
“I need to keep listening to my coaches and teammates and I found when I was struggling, they helped me push through and get better,” said Phillips said. “Also knowing that my team had faith in me and could rely on me gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. To improve on last season, I will continue to push myself every day to get better.
“The season started off slow for us, but we pulled ourselves together and started playing like a team. We were rolling heading into playoffs and to lose in the second round was heartbreaking. To make next year the best year yet, we need to do everything we can to make sure that last year doesn’t repeat itself and we go all the way this year.”
Now, with the state opening up more and more as the days go by, Phillips knows he’s that much closer to the 2020-21 USPHL season.
“I can’t wait to get back on the ice,” Phillips said. “I’ve been eating healthy and working out, trying not to fall behind. The quarantine has been really hard, but I’ve been trying to just look ahead and I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice.”