The Jets are back in action this weekend with a pair of games against in-state Midwest Division rival, the Chippewa Steel.
The home-and-home series is the first meeting in an annual Battle of Wisconsin between the two teams, which ends with the most victorious team taking possession of the coveted Blain’s Farm & Fleet America’s Dairyland Milk Can Trophy.
The Steel currently hold the title in the Battle of Wisconsin, and won nine out of 10 games between the two teams last season. This weekend’s introduction series will kick off a slate of 12 scheduled regular season meetings for Janesville and Chippewa, and two of three in February.
The stakes are high for both teams, as the Steel try to snap a four-game losing streak and the Jets try to reclaim their lead in the Midwest Division standings after being overtaken by the Kenai River Brown Bears.
Despite their record, the Steel do pose some of the toughest competition that Janesville’s dominant special teams have seen so far. Chippewa comes in at second in the division on the power play at 20 percent. The Steel also have the third-best penalty kill at 86.8 percent. Janesville remains the best in the midwest in both areas.
The Jets will head to enemy territory for the first game of the weekend, with Thursday puck drop in Chippewa slated for 7 p.m. Fans are currently allowed at Chippewa Area Ice Arena for fans looking to attend in-person. The Steel will then travel to Janesville for the rubber match on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last Time Out
Kenai came to town last weekend for a three-game series and the lead in the standings on the line. The Brown Bears came away with the 5-1 game one win, and while the Jets evened the series on Saturday with a 6-3 victory, Kenai came back with a vengeance, and a 6-1 advantage, to win the series. Highlights of the weekend for Janesville included the first goals as Jets for Nick Leyer and Spencer Kring, 12 different players contributing to six goals on Saturday, and the long-awaited return of forward Justin Thompson from injury, in which he tallied an assist.
The Jets will be down one of their most productive forwards this weekend, but for good reason: Matt Romer has been called up by the USA NTDP Under-18 team for a series against his future team, Arizona State University. Romer has been one of the Jets’ top playmakers of the season and has tallied nine assists in 14 games, second-best on the team. Romer has also posted three goals, including one game-winner.
New additions to Janesville’s squad have also been making an immediate impact. Nick Leyer, who most recently played for the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, played in all three games of the Kenai series and posted two points. Additionally, the Jets welcomed back forwards Jake Dunlap and Tommy Middleton after spending time in the USHL with Fargo and Dubuque, respectively. Dunlap has played in seven games and has one goal and four assists, while Middleton made his debut with the Kenai series and tallied three assists in Saturday’s victory.
The Jets will have a week off after the Battle of Wisconsin opener before returning to action with a road series against Fairbanks on Feb.19-20.