‘Everyone Has A Role’ with the Kansas City Jets

KCIC-Jets Hockey

JANUARY 2015 – There may not be an “I” in “team,” but Gary Emmons says there is an “I” in “win.”

Emmons, the former Kansas City Blades star coaches the Kansas City Jets, the top traveling hockey team in the Kansas City area that makes its home in the Kansas City Ice Center.

Emmons stresses to his team that each player on the roster has a key role in the success of the team.

“Everyone has a role,” he said. “Not everyone can be Wayne Gretzky. If I can get everyone playing in their own capabilities and accepting the role they’re in, we’re a much better hockey team.”

The method is working so far this season, as the Jets are 12-2 and tied for the top spot in the Midwest High School Hockey League with the Omaha Junior Lancers.

Emmons said a “share the wealth” approach has helped a lot. “In years past you could look at our statistics and there would be one kid with 80 percent of the goals,” he said. “This year, we’re spreading it around. We won 8-1 in Cedar Rapids in December and had eight different goal scorers.

Sponsor-Hockey“We’re getting production from all three lines. We’re very strong defensively. We have great leadership and our goaltending has been spectacular. Right now the whole picture is looking pretty good.

“When we play a team, they can’t focus on one guy. They can’t say, ‘If we shut down this one guy we’ll win.’ That’s not the case. That’s a good luxury for me to have right now, but we have to keep it going. When you’re dealing with high school kids, once I start showing them that I’m taking things for granted, they’ll do the same. Every single day I have to keep giving them the same message. ‘You’ve got to play your hardest.’ We’re doing a pretty good job of that right now.”

The defense has been a big factor. Through the first 10 games, the Jets gave up 18 goals—while the offense has scored 58 goals. While there’s not one guy to focus on, Emmons mentioned two players who have garnered success so far.

“I’m getting some big goals from Gunnar Morse,” Emmons said. “He’s bringing us great energy. He’s winning all his loose-puck battles, and he’s not taking anything for granted.

“Jon McManus is a great goal scorer. We’re getting him the puck, because good things happen when he gets in the scoring zone and we get him the puck. Some kids need 10 chances to get one goal. Jon only needs five chances to get two or three.

“When we realize that, good things happen. I’m trying to get the rest of the guys to understand that.”

Emmons is getting outstanding goaltending from Nick Steiner and Erik Schuette. Emmons said they feed off each other. “They’re cheering for each other when they’re not playing,” Emmons said.

“Jake Taylor, Alex DeGuire and Jarrett McDonald are my three horses on defense,” he said. “They’re just bringing it every day. Everyone is feeding off their energy and leadership. It can go south quickly. You don’t stay on top forever. You have to work hard to stay where you are.

“It’s just instilling in these kids: ‘Stay together.’ We’re big as a whole. Any time we get some selfishness in us and the kids try to be individuals, it doesn’t work. I’m trying to keep everybody together and work hard. When we work hard we’re a really tough team to beat.”

Coming out of the holiday break, the Jets have a key January stretch. They go to Omaha in a battle of first-place teams and have a trip to Ames, Iowa, the Jets conclude the month with a home series against Sioux City (Iowa).

“We are a target because we’re a pretty good program,” Emmons said. “We’re getting everybody’s best. I like that, but we have to be ready.”

The atmosphere is electric for games at the KC Ice Center. “We’re the only team in the league that doesn’t charge attendance,” Emmons said. “We’ll pack this place. It’s loud. We make it big for these kids. We announce starting lineups, have the national anthem. It’s real big.”

For the complete schedule, go to: http://www.kcjets.com/schedule-1.html

Article by David Smale

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