Thursday: W, 4-0
Just over a minute later, Parker Mabbett pounced on a puck that bounced out in front of the net and scored the first goal of his junior hockey league career. “We got the cycle on the forecheck going, we kept it going down to [Jack] Ford, and he got it to the front of the net, it found me, and I was able to hammer it home,” said Mabbett following the first lamp-lighter of his career. “It was a great relief, a great feeling, especially here at home against Anchorage. I’m glad we were able to start the weekend on a high note.”
Despite a scoreless second period, the beat kept rolling, and in an astounding way, for Janesville when everyone witnessed what is known to be one of the most challenging moves to showcase in the sport of hockey, “The Michigan,” by New Hampshire commit Cy LeClerc.
— Janesville Jets (@JanesvilleJets1) December 31, 2021
While on the power play, LeClerc capitalized on a broken play to the right of the goal crease, and after whiffing on an attempt to bat the puck out of the air, scooped it off the ice and went to work. “The puck started spinning on the ice, and I just thought, “I’m going to try to get it on my stick and hope that it lands flat.” Luckily for LeClerc, everything lined up the way he envisioned it, and before he knew it, he had pulled off the Michigan and landed himself as the number one play on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top Plays.
“Alright, I’ve got it, I’m going to commit to it, and I just threw it around the net, and it went in. It was awesome,” said LeClerc with a chuckle. While the level of difficulty remains unparalleled in scoring a goal Michigan-style, it has now seemingly become a common trend in the sport of hockey. Regardless, for 19-year-old LeClerc, it’s a feat that neither he nor the league will forget for a long while.
After some celebrating from the stands and the Jets’ bench, there was still a game to be won, and the home squad had no trouble doing just that. Begg added his second goal of the game on an empty-netter that sealed the deal and gave the Jets a 4-0 win. William Gustavsson found himself back where he left off after being away in Sweden for a few weeks; he recorded two assists on the night in his first game back in Janesville.
Owen Millward made 33 saves on 33 shots and posted his second shutout of the season in the win.
Friday: L, 4-2
Looking for the series win on Friday night following their dominant victory the night before, the Jets had a New Year’s Eve showdown set on the final day of 2021.
After being shut out, it was relatively clear the Wolverines, who had a top-ten scoring offense coming into the series, would come out firing to ensure they left Janesville with at least one win. This proved true thanks to Jackson Reineke scoring at the 12-minute mark of the opening frame. The Wolverines fired a total of 17 shots on Millward in the first 20 minutes of play.
Down just 1-0, the Jets found an answer, again after a long wait, with seven minutes left in the second period. Future-Badger Robby Newton deflected a point shot from Gunnar Williams that snuck through the five-hole of Shane Soderwall and brought the game to a 1-1 tie. The NYE party carried on for the time being when Jack Ford skated into the Wolverines’ zone while shorthanded and put a pass onto the tape of Jonah Aegerter, who made a slick forehand backhand move to put Soderwall on his stomach and flipped the puck into a yawning cage. It was the Jets’ fourth shorthanded goal of the season and gave them a 2-1 lead late in the middle frame.
While still on the power play, Anchorage managed to muster up a response and tied the game again with Hunter Bischoff’s score. The trend of late scoring continued into the final period of regulation until the Wolverines broke the 2-2 tie following Colton Friesen’s fourth goal of the year.
Anchorage didn’t look bad and added an ENG while shorthanded, securing the 4-2 win. Wolverines’ netminder Shane Soderwall recorded 27 saves on 29 shots to notch his seventh win of the season. Owen Millward turned in another spectacular outing, making 35 saves on 38 shots in the loss.
Saturday: W, 4-3 (F/OT)
On New Years Day of 2022, a day of much celebration, the Jets eventually had the biggest celebration possible to round out the weekend series and start the New Year off on a high note.
Robby Newton continued to build on his big weekend and scored his eighth goal of the year thanks to a perfect slot-pass from Ethan Begg from behind the net. The 18 to 16 connection was the only score of the opening period.
Fans in attendance were treated to a back-and-forth second period that ultimately set things up for a photo finish. Colton Friesen scored his second goal in as many nights three minutes in that tied the game. Janesville didn’t keep the game tied for long, and seconds after their power play expired, Arsenii Smekhnov made a wraparound play to the left post that snuck through Soderwall and put the Jets up again.
Aiden Westin said “not so fast” and scored on a slow-developing play; a pass to the slot from Sigurdson found Westin, who one-timed it to Millward, who appeared to have control, but the puck rolled beyond the goal line and in. It took three games, but the lethal second line of the Wolverines, who had a combined 82 points between Westin, Cameron Morris, and Talon Sigurdson, made a timely breakthrough and put the pressure on Janesville.
The Jets remained persistent, and with just under five minutes in the second, Spencer Kring scored his first goal of the season on a high blocker-side snipe from between the faceoff circles. While skating along the bench to celebrate, Kring went behind his back and made a throwing motion, signifying the removal of the monkey on the back following his first score in 30 games. The goal from “Kringer” put the Jets on top 3-2 going into the third.
The third had the looks of the Jets keeping Anchorage off the board and riding their 3-2 lead to a win, but Joey Moffatt scored on what looked like a drawn-up play out of the media timeout on a two-on-one to once again tie the game. Millward had no chance on the odd-man rush. With eight minutes to play following the Wolverines’ tying goal, both squads went back and forth, but no more goals were scored, which took the game into overtime for only the third time this season.
Anchorage won the opening draw during the three-on-three period and had a high-grade chance to score, but a shot went just wide of Millward, allowing Janesville to gain possession and set up a game-winning rush.
From behind the net, Will Troutwine handed the puck off to Ethan Begg, who dropped it off to Jonah Aegerter, who hit the afterburners through neutral ice, worked around a defenseman, and sent a rising snapshot over Soderwall and in for a thrilling overtime victory.
— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) January 2, 2022
It was Aegerter’s seventh goal of the year, and for the Janesville native and the rest of his team, coaches, and fans, a perfect way to start 2022. Owen Millward came in to relieve Michael D’Orazio in the second period, who made 20 saves on 22 shots. Millward turned away 13 of 14 shots and recorded his 11th win of the year.
Around the Division
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 2 @ Minnesota Wilderness 1
Kenai River Brown Bears 2 @ Minnesota Magicians 5
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4 @ Minnesota Wilderness 5
|1||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||31||23-9-0-1||47|
|2||Springfield Jr. Blues||31||20-9-1-1||42|
|8||Kenai River Brown Bears||31||7-21-2-1||17|
The at-home antics will stick around for one more week, where it will be another three-game series, this one against the last of the three Alaskan teams in the Kenai River Brown Bears. It’ll be the first set of games against Kenai River this season. With the holiday break in the rearview mirror and the second half underway, the Jets currently stand just nine points outside of the playoff picture behind the Minnesota Magicians in the Midwest Division and have four games in hand. With the upcoming series against a struggling Brown Bears team, the Jets have a golden opportunity to continue their run, apply some mounting pressure and get right into the back pocket of the top contenders within the division.
Jets vs. Brown Bears | Thu Jan 6 | 7:00pm CST
Jets vs. Brown Bears | Fri Jan 7 | 7:00pm CST
Jets vs. Brown Bears | Sat Jan 8 | 7:00pm CST