JANESVILLE, WI — After going winless in the previous four games against them, the Jets held the Springfield Jr. Blues scoreless to win 3-0 in front of a packed Janesville Ice Arena on Friday night.
With Friday night’s game the first between the two since the first week of December, it took some time to warm up. Suffice to say, the Jets are a changed team now than where they were two months ago, so the opening twenty required a bit more caution for either squad. Owen Millward was tested a decent amount, with ten shots sent to his crease in the first frame. A physical brand of hockey paired with some speed tested the Jets, but Milly and the defense withstood the opening push.
The second period saw a shift in favor of the home side, who found their game in the opening minutes of the period. On a broken play, Ethan Begg carried the puck in on the right-wing and sent a perfect pass over to Jack Ford, who sent the sauce past Springfield netminder Aksel Reid to open the scoring. It was Ford’s second goal in as many games and third in four games. Defenseman Gunnar Williams added an assist on the score.
Ford’s goal not only broke the ice but added some confidence to the Jets’ game and allowed them to hit a new gear, which was reflected on another goal just 90 seconds later. While in the neutral zone, AJ Casperson sent a pass through everyone that found the tape of Cade Destefani, who had an abbreviated breakaway and deposited his first goal back in Janesville.
The lead was only 2-0 at the time, but it felt as though the home team had a stronghold on the game. Between blocked shots, great backchecking, and disrupting passes, the Jets were playing the thorn in the side of the best team in the NAHL. Janesville recorded ten shots on goal in the middle frame to the Jr. Blues’ eight.
With a two-goal lead heading into the final twenty, the Jets played another strong period of physical and disciplined hockey, only heading to the box twice with the exception of an offsetting double minor in the entire game. With the win in sight, Janesville solidified their impressive outing with one more goal at the 16:12 mark. Cy LeClerc displayed some slick moves into the attacking end and backhanded a shot-pass to the crease that was tipped by William Gustavsson, his 14th score of the year. Will Troutwine notched his 20th assist on the play.
The third period was as crisp and smooth as the Jets could’ve played it, as they allowed only four shots from Springfield, compared to their 11. Even with a team as explosive and dangerous as the Jr. Blues, Janesville played arguably their best game of the year as a group.
Only having to face 22 shots thanks to the tight play in front of him, Owen Millward recorded his fifth shutout of the season and second in a row. His five shutouts are tied for most in the NAHL, and he improved to a 19-8-0-0 record with the victory. The 18-year-old goaltender has now won four games in a row and 10 of his last 12.
They Said It:
Jack Ford on his goal streak:
“It’s been important to continue with the systems we’ve been working with. Without our strong play, I wouldn’t have this kind of success. Plenty of credit goes to them, my teammates for making some great plays, our defense in creating those opportunities, they’ve really helped me get those chances, and I’ve been trying to make the most of them.”
William Gustavsson on what changed to go in front after the scoreless first:
“We needed to play with some more confidence, and it definitely felt like we did that in the second period. We created some good opportunities, and we executed. We just need to come out with the same game plan on Saturday, play hard, execute, and just make it happen.”
Cade Destefani’s thoughts on scoring in his first game back in Janesville:
“It’s really nice being back in Janesville, seeing all these fans show out, get back with the guys and get a big win against a team that’s been hot. It was great to get that early lead, build off of it and get the win at the end of the night.”
Owen Millward on recording back-to-back shutouts and the play of his teammates:
“The huge thing about goaltending is confidence; when you get on a roll, it makes it easier to keep it going. A big part of that is defensively, we’ve been unreal. Since Christmas, almost, we’ve been rock solid back there, they’ve helped me out a lot, and it’s helped build my confidence, and we’ve been able to keep it rolling.”
The Jets will look for the sweep over the Springfield Jr. Blues on Saturday at 7 PM CT. It’s Janesville Youth Hockey Night, and anyone wearing a JYH jersey or apparel will receive free entry to the game. Both intermissions will feature scrimmages with JYH players. To top it off, it’s also Skate with the Jets night. Following the conclusion of the game, fans can rent a pair of skates and hit the ice with Jets players.
- The win was the Jets’ fourth in a row and 10th in 12 games.
- Cal Mell committed to Union College just hours before the game. Mell is the third Jet to make a DI commitment this year (Keaton Peters, Northern Michigan; AJ Casperson, Long Island).
- Owen Millward made 22 saves on 22 shots. He owns a .939 SV% in his last ten games.
- The team moves to 21-19-0-1 on the season and is now just three points behind the Minnesota Magicians in the fourth place spot in the division.
The final game of the series can be viewed on HockeyTV. Otherwise, you can find coverage on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.