BLAINE, MN — The Janesville Jets opened the 2022-23 season from the annual NAHL Showcase last week, and left without a loss. For only the second time in the team’s 14-year history, the Jets swept the competition and recorded a flawless 4-0 record. The wins weren’t easy write-offs, either; three of their four opponents finished the 2021-22 season with at least 70 points. A small sample size of games, sure, but there is much to be excited about after the strong showing from this Jets squad.
Janesville opened the Showcase against the Maryland Black Bears, who finished just outside of playoff contention in the East Division last season. The first game wound up being arguably, the most exciting for the Jets, who allowed Maryland to strike first before getting goals from returner Jimmy Doyle and newcomer Ryan Friedman in the second period. The Black Bears tied the game at two late in the second, and nearly a full period of scoreless action filled the third. Finally, the third-year defenseman Will Troutwine scored the game-winner with only 47 seconds left in regulation. Mack Keryluk, also entering his third year, and rookie forward Noah Gibbs tallied assists on the winning goal.
If the showcase opener wasn’t impressive enough, the second game against the reigning Robertson Cup Champions, the New Jersey Titans, was enough to instill some excitement and anticipation for the young Jets group. The Titans lost just 16 games in regulation en route to their first league championship in franchise history. No issue for the Jets. The home team scored first, a goal at the halfway point of the opening period from Kyle Kudrna. New Jersey scored their only goal of the game a minute later to enter a one-all tie. Later in the frame, Kudrna again found the back of the net to put Janesville in front for good. Defenseman Ryan Williams sniped a blue-line wrister for his first score of the year, and Jimmy Doyle added his second goal of the year to help Janesville coast to a 4-1 win. Goaltender Selby Warren made 29 saves on 30 shots to improve to 2-0.
The third game of the showcase against the Lone Star Brahmas took a while to see scoring, but it was worth the wait. The Brahmas finished last season as the NAHL Regular Season Champions with a 38-12-5-5 record, good for 86 total points. They lost at the hands of the New Mexico Ice Wolves late in the Robertson Cup Playoffs. Neither the Jets nor the Brahmas could solve each other for 46 minutes. Janesville had four power-play chances to no avail, and the Brahmas came up empty on three man advantages of their own in the first two periods. At last, six and a half minutes into period three, the clouds parted and the Jets took the lead thanks to Conner Brown deking his way to the net. Only up a goal, the Jets held strong and stymied the Brahmas’ comeback efforts, putting a bow on the win with an empty-netter from Noah Gibbs. Peter Sterling got the start for game three and recorded a 19-save shutout in the win.
Much like the game before, the final contest of the Showcase was back-and-forth with no need for penciling anything onto the stat sheet into the third period. The North Iowa Bulls had a down year in a competitive Central Division last year: a last-place finish with 54 points. They staved off the strong Jets’ offensive front for 40 minutes, but the stronghold fell to the high-powered group in Janesville in the third. Chris Pelosi found twine two minutes into the final period with assists from Joseph Kramer and Matthew Hale. Minutes later, Pelosi again scored, and again, Kramer and Hale tallied assists. The Bulls mustered up just one goal in the contest, and Janesville added one more of their own from Gabriel Lundberg for a 3-1 final. While the shutout bid was broken late in the game, Peter Sterling still had a very impressive outing, stopping 33 of 34 shots. Both Warren and Sterling finished the tournament with a perfect 2-0 record.
Janesville will look to continue their winning ways when they open their home season with a three-game series on Thursday, September 22 against the Kenai River Brown Bears at 7 PM CT. It’ll be Joe Dibble’s first games back at the Janesville Ice Arena as Head Coach since 2017. Tickets can be purchased on our Facebook page, at Lions Quick Mart stores around town, or at the door of the arena. Games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
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