The Jets found their first win of 2021 on Friday against the Kenai River Brown Bears, but settled for a series split with a loss in the Saturday finale.
While the visiting team struck first in the opener, Janesville quickly turned up the heat with three goals in 10 minutes in the first period for a 3-1 lead. All three also happened to be the third of the season for each of Janesville’s scorers: Dominik Bartecko, Jaxson Ezman and Charlie Schoen. Both Ezman and Schoen scored on the power play. Kenai River did come back with a response and goal from Brandon Lajoie, though, to make it a 3-2 game by period’s end.
The Jets exploded on offense in the middle frame, which started with a goal from captain Carter Hottmann at 9:13, his third in three games. Forward Cade Destefani followed up with his ninth goal of the season and Janesville’s fifth on the night just one minute later for a three-goal lead. Charlie Schoen then added his second power play goal of the evening at 17:49 to give Janesville the 6-2 advantage for the final period of play.
Lucas Wahlin added one more goal for the visitors, but the home team held strong to come away with the 6-3, its first of 2021. Riley Sims got his second win of the season in net, and the Jets maintained their hot streak in special teams with a 3-for-5 rating on the power play.
The Brown Bears came into game two hungry and gained a quick 3-0 lead in the first period, with two goals from forward Max Helgeson.
The Jets quickly bounced back with three goals of their own in the second period from Matt Romer, Jonah Aegerter and Charlie Schoen for a 3-3 tie game just 6:36 in. The Brown Bears then answered back with two more tallies, both from forward Peter Morgan.
Kenai added a goal from Morgan Winters less than a minute into the third, and while AJ Casperson’s first goal as a Jet chipped away slightly at the Kenai lead, Max Helgeson completed a hat trick at 9:47 to make it 7-4. Jaxson Ezman scored his second power play goal of the weekend six minutes later, but another from Morgan and an empty-netter from Daymin Dodge secured the 9-5 victory for the Brown Bears.
Though Kenai did move into second place as of Saturday evening with their victory, the Jets comfortably lead the Midwest Division with 12 points. Another positive to the weekend was the readmission of season ticket holders to cheer the Jets on for the first time since November.
The Jets next take on a cross-division rival, the Minnesota Wilderness, in a home series next weekend, Jan. 15-16. Games are slated for 7 p.m.