Friday: L, 4-0
In the first game against Springfield since the first week of September, the Jets took a bit of time to warm up, as the Jr. Blues managed to maintain zone time for a good portion of the opening period and put two goals up on the board. The second period saw improvement after the defensive efforts from the Jets limited the opposition to eight shots on net to their 14. In the middle frame, a power play goal added another to the Jr. Blues count.
Janesville sent 29 shots to the net of Ethan Roberts through the first two periods of play, but the North Carolina native turned them all aside to maintain a 3-0 lead going into the third. The Jr. Blues took three penalties in the final ten minutes of play, but Janesville couldn’t find twine and fell 4-0 after an empty-net goal from Springfield. Roberts was perfect in net and stopped all 36 shots he saw in the victory.
The loss marked the first time the Jets had been shut out in the regular season in 694 days, dating all the back to the 2019-20 season in a January 10 game where Trent Burnham turned in a 29-save effort to carry the Chippewa Steel to a 1-0 win from the Chippewa Ice Arena.
Saturday: L, 6-3
It’s evident that nobody enjoys “a taste of their own medicine,” so the Jets came out the next night with a purpose to escape Springfield with a series split and get some revenge after the shutout.
The weekend finale stayed scoreless for the first ten minutes of action, but again, the Jr. Blues opened the scoring, forcing the Jets to play from behind. It didn’t take long for a response, as Robby Newton scored his sixth goal of the year on the power play to bring the game to a 1-1 tie. The home team replied with a man-advantage score of their own before the first period came to a close.
Already up 2-1 going into the period of the “long change,” the Jr. Blues found the back of the net on another power play to tack on to their lead. Janesville dug deep, however, after Alex Thundercloud dropped the gloves with Hagen Moe at the 13:21 mark of the period. The two exchanged blows before Moe brought “TC” down to the ice, who both skated to their respective locker rooms while receiving applause and stick taps on their way out.
The tussle briefly sparked the Jets’ offense and eventually brought the game back to within one thanks to a goal that was initially credited to Jan Lasak but was given to Mack Keryluk, his eighth goal of the year. Keryluk’s goal was assisted by Jonah Aegerter, who made the trip down to the Nelson Center after spending a week with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Springfield did not allow the Jets to get comfortable with the one-goal deficit and, again, scored shortly after Janesville to go back up two just before the end of the period.
The game of cat and mouse continued into the third when William Gustavsson notched his 11th goal of the season to get the game to within one for the second time. The Jr. Blues seemingly took all of the wind out of the Jets’ sails after they scored shorthanded less than two minutes later to go up two for the final time.
Janesville did not go down without a resilient fight and recorded 18 shots in the last period of play, but Ethan Roberts again stood tall. He was even credited with a goal after a pass to the point from Janesville went astray and skittered down the ice and into the empty net. Following his shutout win, Roberts again put up a monster performance for his squad, making 47 saves on 50 shots to backstop the Jr. Blues to a 6-3 win.
In four games against the Jr. Blues this year, the Jets have yet to win and have been outscored 18-5. It had been almost three months since the two had played one another, and it’ll be another two and a half months, 76 days to be exact before they meet again in February. It was certainly safe to say that both Janesville and Springfield were different teams than when they first met to open the 2021-22 season, and the same can almost surely be told when they get together to exchange some hockey hugs on Valentine’s Day weekend in February.
Around the Division
Minnesota Magicians 1 @ Chippewa Steel 5
Minnesota Wilderness 3 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 5
Anchorage Wolverines 2 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 4
Chippewa Steel 2 @ Minnesota Magicians 6
Minnesota Wilderness 3 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 6
Anchorage Wolverines 5 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 3
|1||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||27||18-8-0-1||37|
|2||Springfield Jr. Blues||26||17-8-0-1||35|
|8||Kenai River Brown Bears||24||5-19-0-0||10|
A weekend off is on deck for the Jets before they get right back into business with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, followed by another weekend off to celebrate the holidays. Fairbanks currently holds the top spot in the Midwest Division over Springfield by two points and will take on the Chippewa Steel this weekend to start their four-week-long affair in the Lower 48.
Jets vs. Ice Dogs| Fri Dec 17 | 7:00pm CST
Jets vs. Ice Dogs| Sat Dec 18 | 7:00pm CST