July 12, 2008

Rich Metro is named LSSU hockey assistant coach

SAULT STE. MARIE - Rich Metro, who served as Lake Superior State hockey video coordinator and volunteer coach in 2007-08, has been promoted to assistant coach, LSSU coach Jim Roque announced Friday.

Prior to playing four seasons at Northern Michigan University and six seasons professionally, Metro grew up playing youth hockey in the Sault Michigan Hockey Association. As a professional player, he spent four seasons with Villard-de-Lans in France, where he met his wife, Elodie.

Metro is the son of Con and Grace Metro. His father played for Ron Mason on the first Laker hockey team in 1966-67. His brother, Terry, was a goaltender at Wisconsin-Stout and currently lives in Bozeman, Mont.

"I'm excited for Rich and his family," Roque said. "With him being a local, and his dad being on the first Laker hockey team, this is exciting for the whole family. I'm confident that he'll do a really good job. He's passionate about the game. He's worked with Ron Rolston (U.S. National Development Team) and me at hockey schools over the years. The guys on last year's team really liked him and enjoyed being around him."

"It's a great honor and huge privilege to coach at Lake Superior State University, not only because my dad played here, but because it's always been my hometown," Metro said. "With the other great coaches who have come through and the ones who are here now, I'm really blessed to be a part of this. Obviously it's a great honor to have played at Northern Michigan under Coach Comley. In the same sense, now that I'm coaching, it's an even bigger honor to represent my hometown, especially at this level."

While completing work on a B.A. in liberal arts in 2007-08, Metro served as the Lakers' video coordinator. He became a volunteer assistant coach when Don Muio was sidelined due to hip surgery.

"He learned the video and gained experience on the ice," Roque said. "He has a lot of learning ahead of him as far as recruiting goes. Tim (Christian) and he will work things out. Tim has been doing this a long time now, and he will help him a lot."

Metro made the most of his opportunity to be an understudy last season and was most-impressed with the coaching staff's attention to detail.

"I have to say I am most-impressed with how hard the coaching staff has to work, day in and day out, just to keep everyone focused and things running smoothly," Metro said. "Everyone has to stay on the same page, from top to bottom, for the team to be successful. When we did things right, we won. When we did things wrong, we lost."

After winning national championships with two different SMHA teams, Metro played AAA midget hockey for the Soo Hawks and Marquette Electricians. He spent the Junior A portion of his career with the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League. He played collegiately at NMU, where he was the Wildcats' rookie of the year and a two-year co-captain. He totaled 24-35-59 at NMU from 1995-99.

"He played for Rick Comley," Roque noted. "Rick gives him a lot of credit for helping the team come back from a down year. He looked to Rich as a guy who would be positive. They went to the NCAA Tournament his senior year after winning only seven games his freshman year. Although he's a guy who doesn't have a lot of coaching experience, Rich played for one of the best coaches in college hockey. What he brings to us from there will help us."

"I'm really fortunate that Coach Roque made decision to hire me," said Metro, who hopes to make the most of his USHL contacts on the recruiting circuit. "I've known Jim for a long time, and it's a nice bonus to work with him. He coached my brother in the SJHL way back in '91. I've worked with him at the Traverse City hockey school for about nine years, and I even knew him when Northern played against Clarkson and he was coaching there. We've probably known each other for 10 years."

In addition to playing four seasons in France, where he totaled 24-35-59, Metro played for the Pee Dee Pride (East Coast Hockey League) in 1999-00, and the Columbus Cottonmouths (Central Hockey League) and Ashville Smoke (United Hockey League) in 2000-01.

Former Lakers Barnabas Birkeland (5-5-10), Jeff Rainville (10-9-19) and Trent Campbell (2-2-4) played for Metro's former team, Villard-de-Lans, in 2007-08. After a short stint in France, Campbell went on to have an outstanding 2007-08 season (22-27-49) for the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays.

"Guys always ask Tim and Rich about playing professionally," Roque said. "They all want to play somewhere when they are done with college hockey. Tim has also helped a lot of guys play at different places. They know a lot of people and the right people to send them to."