Dear Jets sponsors, billets, game night staff, and fans,
My partners, Tim Barry, Joe Pavelski, and I, want to thank you for your continued support of the Jets as we recently completed our 14th season in Janesville. The season didn’t end the way it started, but it was another successful campaign in so many ways. When you have a threefold mission of developing talent, serving the community, and offering affordable family fun, you always win.
GM Joe Dibble came back to coach the team this season after six years away from the bench. He and assistant coach Ryan Black built what we all believe was a playoff-caliber roster. We started the season 4-0, then injuries began taking key players out of the lineup for extended periods of time. The hope was the younger guys would develop faster with an expanded role, and that happened. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a tough division and a lack of scoring this season. No excuses. The four teams from the NAHL Midwest Division that made the playoffs all belong there and we want one of them to win the Robertson Cup in May. The good news is most of our guys could be back next season with more experience under their belt.
We brought in a new VP of Business Development in Brad Stepan. If you haven’t met “Steps” yet, you will. He came to the Jets from the Chippewa Steel. I had watched him perform for the Steel and was impressed with what I saw. When we had an opening, he was the only person we considered. Steps has had a tremendous first season with the Jets. Brad has NHL experience as a player and his son Derek is currently playing for the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL. Derek will play his 1000th NHL game in the next week. Brad is the guy who typically greets you as you enter and exit Jets games. You will like working with Steps. And we promise to step up our in-game activities next season, too.
A few other community highlights from this past season:
- Attendance at Jets games was 20,862 including three sellouts!
- The Jets donated to the following local charities proceeds from specialty jerseys:
- Vets Roll – $6000
- Housing 4 Our Vets – $4000
- MercyHealth Cancer Center – $6500
The Jets made history this year, too. Last week we started Annelies Bergmann in goal. Annelies became the first female to play in a US Tier I or Tier II junior hockey game – ever. The arena was packed, and we had more moms and little girls than ever before. Many stayed after the game to get Annelies’s autograph and some just wanted to hug her. Annelies came to the Jets’ main camp last summer. She is represented by an agency that includes local scout/agent Max Giese.
She impressed us so much that we “affiliated” her. That means we could bring her up from AAA boys’ hockey at any time. Even though the Jets lost the game Annelies started 2-1 to our oldest rival, Springfield, she played fantastic. And it sent an incredible message to the entire hockey world that we can all be proud of. #girlpower
The Woodman’s Sports & Convention Center continues to make progress. We are working hard to help secure state funding for the project in the state budget. We will have an update in mid-June on that. There are other pieces that still need to fall into place, but the team of local volunteers (may includes several on this email list) has done an amazing job to help make this transformational project happen. If all goes as planned, the city will let bids in September and the project would be completed in December of 2024.
The city hired a new manager for the Janesville Ice Arena. Billy Scherer retired after many years of service to the city, and we cannot thank him enough for everything he and the rest of the rink staff have done for us over the past 14 years. But we are excited about the new rink manager Jesse Bucholz. Jesse most recently ran the NHL Arizona Coyotes multi-sheet practice facility. He is well equipped to manage the Woodman’s Sports & Convention Center in the future.
The Jets will have our main tryout camp in July at the Janesville Ice Arena. Main Camp always generates a lot of local business for many of you as we invite more than 200 players from across the country. The only bright side to not making the playoffs is our staff has more time to find more top-notch players for next season.
Our mission next year will be the same as it is every year; develop and advance talented hockey players; continue to give back to the community through community service and partnerships with local charities; and provide affordable family entertainment to the citizens and businesses of Janesville. And we are going to win the Robertson Cup while executing on that mission!
Thank you for your support this season. We had multiple sellout crowds, plenty of free Culvers for our fans, record-breaking auctions for local veterans’ charities and loads of fun. We cannot wait to see you all next season.
President, Janesville Jets
Chairman, North American Hockey League
Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame 2016