FRASER, Mich. – Mitch Forton had a strong offensive season with the Metro Jets in 2019-20, and by re-signing with the club for the upcoming 2020-21 season, is banking on improving even more next year as he enters his final season of junior hockey eligibility.
Forton, a 2000 birth year from Petoskey, Mich., registered 16 goals and 23 points with the MJDP team last season and also picked up an assist in seven games with the Jets.
“There are a lot of factors that went into my decision to come back for a second year, but the primary one is the people in the program,” Forton said. “I invest in people and the Metro staff is one of the best I’ve come across in the hockey world. From top to bottom, they care about every player and their development and that type of attention can be rare. Not only is the staff phenomenal, but their mindset and effective methods for individual development attracts kids who want to buy in to the program and put in work to advance to the next level.
“As a second-year guy, I simply plan on bearing down and working to further my development. At the end of the day, an advancement to the next level is what a player is after and it’s hard to get that scholarship or contract without putting in work.”
The ninth of 10 kids, with one being older brother Kenny, who played for the Jets during the 2013-14 season, the younger Forton became enamored with the Jets from Day 1 last season.
“The Jets are such a prestigious and successful organization because of the people and the facilities,” Forton said. “The intense focus on individual development along with the ice time players get and access to the MAT allows anyone who buys in the tools to progress their game. And that’s really the key; Metro can get players to buy in.
“The coaching staff harbors a vast base of hockey knowledge from their experience over the years playing and coaching in various leagues and that is evident to the players who come to play and experience a season with Metro or even in small conversations with the staff.”
Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville saw Forton’s game improve in leaps and bounds last year, and he expects more of the same this coming season.
“’Forts’ coming back is great news for us and bad for other teams,” Quenneville said. “This kid is coming in ready to take off from where he ended last season. He really developed his game from top to bottom. He plays really well in the hard areas, is not afraid to go to the net and offensively, can play with the best of them. I know he’s excited to get back at it here, but we are equally excited to get him back in our circle.
“He is a quiet leader, works hard at his game and will be a great role model for our younger guys. He will be another highly-scouted college player here and have several options to pick from.”
Forton said that daily improvement is the name of the game with the Jets.
“I think that my presence down low in the corners and in front of the net along with my decision making in those areas improved the most last season,” said Forton. “Decision making is definitely the biggest one because I had to break some bad habits that I had developed prior to coming to Metro, and that affected my play a lot. Metro definitely smoothed out some of those decision-making bumps.”
Heading into next year looking to finish on a high note, Forton is anxious to get going.
“Ending last season in the second round was not a great feeling,” said Forton. “It’s a feeling I’d rather avoid and all the more reason to step it up a notch as an individual as well as a team so we can continue the Metro tradition of excellency on and off the ice.”
The rest of this summer, Forton said he’ll be participating in a six-week hockey camp and roofing on weekends until the season starts.