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PREVIEW: Jets vs. Brown Bears (Game #48)

With a injury- and illness-ravaged roster, the Jets surrendered a 3-1 lead in the second period, but got the last goal in an absolute gongshow of a game Friday night as they took down the Kenai River Brown Bears, 4-3, and clinched a playoff spot in the process. Cullen Munson and Kip Hoffmann each had a pair of points, and Joey Abate, Alec Semandel, and Keegan Miller were at the center of a late second period donneybrook that contributed 100 of the game’s 153 penalty minutes.

KENAI RIVER BROWN BEARS

OVERVIEW:

Record: 10-35-2-0

Road Record: 5-20-1-0

Last Game: A 4-3 loss in Janesville last night

Goals For/Goals Against: 94GF/170GA

Power Play: 15.5% (22nd in the NAHL)

Penalty Kill: 77.6% (20th in the NAHL)

Leading Scorers: Jonathan Marzec (42GP – 10G – 22A – 32PTS), Luke Radetic (37GP – 14G – 12A – 26PTS), Evan Butcher (45GP – 10G – 12A – 22PTS)

WHO’S UP FRONT:

Jack Vincent: The former Jet did his part last night, exacting revenge to the tune of two assists, but was on the ice with the Brown Bears’ power play unit that surrendered Joey Abate’s shorthanded goal. Vincent is a big player on this Kenai River team and will want to pull a win out of his old building tonight.

Evan Butcher: In a wild night, Butcher’s shorthanded marker, eight minutes after Abate’s for Janesville,  started the two-goal comeback from Kenai River. Butcher twice visited the penalty box, both times taking a Jet with him on coinciding minors. The chippy forward will be at it again tonight.

WHO’S ON D:

Christopher Lipe: Kenai’s top-scoring defenseman avoided the box, got an assist on Butcher’s shorthanded goal, and skated to a +2, a mark better than anyone’s last night.

WHO’S IN GOAL: 

Robbie Goor: Head coach Jeff Worlton went with the backup Colt Hanks last night, and while Hanks didn’t play too poorly, his 34/38 performance was not enough for a point in the standings. We’ll see if Worlton taps his Top Prospects goaltender tonight.

JANESVILLE JETS

OVERVIEW:

Record: 35-9-0-3

Home Record: 20-2-0-2

Last Game: A 4-3 victory over Kenai River last night

Goals For/Goals Against: 186GF/124 GA

Power Play: 25.3% (1st in the NAHL)

Penalty Kill: 82.1% (10th in the NAHL)

Leading Scorers: Michael Maloney (45GP – 21G – 26A – 47PTS), Peter Bates (44GP – 20G – 27A – 47PTS), Cullen Munson (42GP – 19G – 28A – 47PTS)

WHO’S UP FRONT:

Jakov Novak: The future Bentley Falcon played his game last night, using his size, skill, and speed to drive play and generate chances. His game winner late in the second was a product of his positional awareness and Ben Schmidling’s great feed from behind the goal line. Novak skated into the low slot, floated back into some open ice, and buried a one-timer. Following a physical match like last night, having a winger of Novak’s size who can’t easily be tossed around will be big for the Jets.

Cole Paskus: Another big-bodied, Division I committed forward, Paskus also found himself on the score sheet last night with a power play tally for his 20th of the season. The UMass Lowell commit has been pivotal for the Jets’ power play, now ranked first in the league, at the left point position. If Kenai River again gives the Jets 7 minutes of power play time, Paskus and the man advantage unit will be called upon to punish the Brown Bears on the scoreboard.

WHO’S ON D:

TJ Polglaze: That’s no typo. With Carter Ekberg still recovering from a hand injury and illnesses keeping Blake Wareham and Frank Sullivan from playing, Joe Dibble assigned Polglaze and Brendan MacLaren to the bottom pair last night. The two rookie forwards will again play some different minutes tonight. Polglaze, who has some youth hockey experience at defenseman, will be tasked to keep shifts short and make simple but smart plays to

WHO’S IN GOAL:

Jake Barczewski: A win’s a win, and last night was the rookie’s 13th straight decision to fall in the “W” column. Though Kenai River beat him for three goals in a span of 18:18 of game time, Barczewski was solid enough for his 22nd win of the season, stopping 18 of 21 shots. Dibble and assistant coach Kyle Forte may tab Derek Schaedig tonight, but a difficult decision like that is the proverbial “good problem,” with a pair of talented netminders like Janesville has.