TRAVERSE CITY — The stars aligned perfectly for Jake Erway.
The Traverse City native had just moved back from Chicago when he heard the city had acquired a new Junior A hockey franchise.
Ironically, one job led to another for the former Traverse City Central standout.
Erway was applying for a job at downtown business Votruba when the owner, Gary Glaesmer, told him that there was going to be a new team in town.
Not only was there a team, but the owner and coach was his former coach in two of his stops as a player. Erway was a forward for both the Traverse City Enforcers and the TC North Stars under Scott Gardiner — so each of the pair has had a hand in each of the last three Junior A teams in the cherry capital.
"I really couldn't have planned that any better," Erway said.
Erway had played alongside Glaesmer's son, Mike, in high school. He planned to coach a youth team once he came back to TC, before the Cohos opportunity popped up.
"Guys you played with and guys you coached, it's an easy transition behind the bench," Gardiner said.
"It was like nothing changed," Erway said. "I hadn't talked to him for probably six years. I got pretty close to Scott, so it's like I never left."
"It's a little weird being on the other side of it. I was privy to a lot of it with the North Stars, knowing who he was going to pick. But I didn't have a hand in it. It's a change for me, being part of picking a team."
Erway, 26, spent three years in Chicago, partly at Columbia College. While in the Windy City, he had virtually no involvement in hockey.
"I can't really express how tired of the city I was," Erway said. "It's just not for me. Being able to come back and be in the woods and fly fish was a plus for me.
"I learned to fly fish about a year before I moved. I had a fly rod down there, rotting."
The Cohos other assistant coach also has Traverse City bloodlines.
Jacek Wilk was a left wing for the Enforcers in the 2002-03 season, scoring nine goals and 20 points in 38 games.
"When we let him go, he was a 21-year-old, and we were only allowed so many," Gardiner said. "It was one of those things that he never lets me hear the end of it. Once in awhile, he'll bring it up — 'You traded me!'"
Wilk was dealt to Brownstown, but never reported, nullifying the trade.
"I joke around that we got a couple pizzas," Gardiner said. "I told him we couldn't even get pepperoni on the pizza. We kid about it now, but it's nine years later."
Wilk, 28, later played for the Lakeland Loggerheads and Harbor Springs-based Northern Michigan Predators in 2003-04 before going overseas to play for Bayreuth ESV in his native Germany, and also coached the Benzonia-based Northwest Warriors high school team last season.
The Cohos signed one more player from last weekend's tryout camp and have extended offers to several others.
Traverse City West forward Tyler Thirlby becomes the fourth player to sign with the new Junior A team.
Former Petoskey standout Kyle Ruggles signed with the Hartland Hounds, and former Kalkaska Roughnecks players Tyler Teglia and Trevor Teglia signed tenders with the Holland River Bandits.
TRAVERSE CITY — The stars aligned perfectly for Jake Erway.
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