By Mason Lyttle
Friday, November 27: Janesville Jets 3, Minnesota Wilderness 2 (OT)
Shots: Jets 24, Wilderness 23
PP: Jets 1-2, Wilderness 1-3
The Janesville Jets (13-6-2) extended their win streak to five games with an overtime thriller against their Midwest Division rivals, the Minnesota Wilderness (17-7-2). It was Janesville’s first ever victory over the Wilderness, who, when the two teams last played an overtime period, ended Janesville’s Robertson Cup hopes.
The two strong defensive clubs felt each other out during the first period, with few scoring opportunities and just thirteen shots on net.
Taylor Fernandez (8:26 2nd) broke the ice in the second period, continuing his in incredible hot streak with a power play goal. The marker was Fernandez’s seventh over the five-game win streak.
Tyler Cline (2:53 3rd), who scored the dagger goal 29 weeks ago to end Janesville’s magical season, tied the contest early in the third period. Another Jets streak was extended when Zach Solow (15:30 3rd) buried a shot to regain the lead. Solow’s go-ahead goal extended his goal streak to three games and his point streak to five. Fernandez was credited with an assist, giving him five straight multi-point games. Despite successfully killing a penalty in each the first and second period, Janesville couldn’t keep the NAHL’s top power play from tying the game late in the third when Kobe Roth (18:04 3rd) knotted things at 2-2.
The Jets needed less than a minute in the speedy 3-on-3 overtime to close the game. Adam Winborg (0:51 OT) took a nice pass from his linemate and countryman, Nils Rygaard, and picked the corner, capping the win for Janesville.
Jack LaFontaine (9-3-1-1) won his fourth consecutive decision, making 21 saves on 23 Wilderness shots. Luke Kania (5-1-1-0) also made 21 saves, but on 24 pucks, registering the loss.
Saturday, November 28: Janesville Jets 3, Minnesota Wilderness 3 (SO)
Shots: Jets 27, Wilderness 46
PP: Jets 0-3, Wilderness 1-4
The Janesville Jets (14-6-2) needed a bit more time on Saturday to dispose of the Minnesota Wilderness (17-7-3), but managed to do so in the shootout to send captain Nils Rygaard off in winning fashion as he finished his junior hockey career.
Early in the game, Zach Solow (6:25 1st) picked up a Wilderness turnover on the attacking blue line and buried a short handed goal to extend his goal streak to four games, and his point streak to six.
In the second, Madison native Cole Paskus (4:23 2nd) scored his second career goal in the NAHL, doubling the Jets’ lead. Jets goaltender Jack LaFontaine stood tall and weathered much of the Wilderness’ attack during the long shift, but Aaron Miller (14:53 2nd) and the league’s best man advantage unit converted with a little more than five minutes to play in the frame.
The teams traded chances in the third period of play, but it was another late Wilderness goal that tied the game to give the Janesville crowd some free hockey. Casey Gilling (17:07 3rd) snuck a puck past LaFontaine, but that would be LaFontaine’s final concession of the weekend.
After a thrilling overtime period that saw plenty of scoring opportunities for both sides, Taylor Fernandez scored the shootout’s only goal, clinching the series sweep for Janesville and extending their win streak to six.
Jack LaFontaine (10-3-1-1) was marvelous in the Janesville crease, turning away 44 of 46 shots, not including all three Wilderness shooters in the shootout. Chase Munroe (12-4-1-1) lost his first shootout appearance of the season, making 24 saves on 26 shots through 65 minutes of play.
After the win, Janesville captain Nils Rygaard took the microphone and addressed his teammates, coaches, and fans, thanking them all for their support through his year and a half with the Jets. Rygaard will begin his Division I career with the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves beginning next semester.
Friday, December 4 @ Brookings Blizzard – 7:30 p.m. CST
Saturday, December 5 @ Brookings Blizzard – 7:30 p.m. CST
The Janesville Jets will take their winning ways to South Dakota this weekend as they travel for an out-of-division series versus the Brookings Blizzard. Coach Dan Daikawa’s Blizzard have earned points in five of their last six games and sit in third in the NAHL’s Central Division, just five points behind first place Minot. Brookings will play its first home games since travelling over the Thanksgiving holiday, beating Bismarck 6-4 on Wednesday, dropping a 4-0 decision to Aberdeen on Friday, and defeating the Minnesota Magicians on Saturday, 4-2. Minnesota native Josh Kuehmichel (6-5-0-1) won both contests last week, stopping 72 of a total 78 shots. The Blizzard are led offensively by forwards Kane Durment and Mikael Hakkarainen, who share the team lead with 23 points each, and smooth-skating defenseman TJ Samec, whose pair of goals helped dispense of the Magicians on Saturday.
Midwest Division Recap:
Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving action set the table for the weekend’s slate of games, with the Coulee Region Chill and Minnesota Wilderness playing a couple of out-of-division opponents. The Chill dropped their contest to Austin while the Wilderness defeated the Magicians. Coulee’s weekend didn’t fare better as they were swept at home by the visiting Magicians. The Wilderness’ pair of extra time losses lifted them over the dormant Fairbanks Ice Dogs, and the Springfield Jr. Blues played Topeka tight but managed just a point from their series, falling behind Janesville for fourth place. The Kenai River Brown Bears’ off weekend meant no ground could be gained in their 14-point gap behind Coulee.
Midwest Division Standings:
MN Wilderness….……..………..17-7-3, 37 points
Fairbanks Ice Dogs….……………..17-4-2, 36 points
Janesville Jets………..…………….14-6-2, 30 points
Springfield Jr. Blues…..……………13-7-3, 29 points
Coulee Region Chill…………………8-14-0, 16 points
Kenai River Brown Bears…………1-22-0, 2 points
IN THE COMMUNITY…
A few Jets players will visit Madison Elementary School on Tuesday morning in partnership with Junior Achievement. The Jets will visit one lucky 1st grade class Tuesday mornings over a five-week span to help lead lessons and activities designed to teach financial and personal responsibility.
Tuesday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., the Jets will once again hit the town, ringing bells and raising money for the Salvation Army. Players will ring at Woodman’s, Big Lots, Pick-N-Save, Schnucks, Shopko, Festival Foods, the Janesville Mall, and both Sentry locations, West (W Court St) and East (E Milwaukee St).