Friday, March 4: Janesville Jets 3, Minnesota Wilderness 4 (SO)
Shots: Jets 17, Wilderness 35
PP: Jets 1-3, Wilderness 0-1
The Janesville Jets (26-14-6) never trailed in Friday’s contest, but let the Minnesota Wilderness (31-15-4) hang around to tie the game twice, and ultimately lost in the shootout for the second consecutive game against their Midwest Division rivals.
Officials called a tight first period, perhaps trying to set a standard on the series. The Wilderness killed two minors before Adrian Holesinsky (17:05 1st) opened the game’s scoring on the Jets’ third power play of the frame, picking up a loose puck near the goal line and walking in front unchallenged to give the Jets the lead.
In the second period, Adam Winborg (0:34 2nd) tipped a point shot from Lordanthony Grissom to double the Jets’ lead. Shortly after, Jets’ goalie Jack LaFontaine took a puck to the neck and was down on the ice for a few minutes before briefly leaving the game. Minnesota’s Connor Bucsis (4:05 2nd) snuck one by backup Blake Weyrick, and LaFontaine re-entered the game. Koby Bender (5:49 2nd) tied the game less than two minutes later. Referee Eric Krasnichuk left the game late in the period after a collision resulted in a separated shoulder. Linesman Matthew Radke took the orange stripes and assumed referee duties for the remainder of the contest.
Dawson DiPietro (15:09 3rd), who recently announced his Division I commitment to Western Michigan, regained the lead for Janesville late in the third period, but Minnesota’s Ryan Bloom (15:37 3rd) answered quickly to knot things up again.
After a scoreless overtime, Winborg opened the shootout with a goal for Janesville, but former Jet Kyle Patava answered in the following frame. After trading three scoreless rounds, Minnesota’s Tristan Rostagno beat LaFontaine and sealed the win for the Wilderness.
Saturday, March 5: Janesville Jets 7, Minnesota Wilderness 1
Shots: Jets 17, Wilderness 27
PP: Jets 2-4, Wilderness 0-1
The Janesville Jets’ (27-14-6) attack exploded Saturday night for seven goals, two of which were empty-netters, and leaned on a strong second period to collect a key regulation victory over the Minnesota Wilderness (31-16-4).
Much like Friday night, the opening frame was scoreless until the Jets converted a late man-advantage opportunity. Newcomer Shane Sellar (19:54 1st) notched his third goal as a Jet with just six seconds to play in the period, giving the Jets the game’s first goal in back-to-back nights.
Adrian Holesinsky (1:41 2nd) continued his hot streak for Janesville with a second period goal, putting the Jets up by two. Holesinsky, a Slovakian acquired by Janesville in January, extended his point streak to five games. In his 13 games with the Jets, he has racked up 18 points on six goals and 12 assists, and has been held off of the scoresheet just twice. Dawson DiPietro (3:07 2nd) and Taylor Fernandez (12:38 2nd), each of whom enjoying their own hot streaks, struck for Janesville, ending the period with a 4-0 Jets lead. Fernandez’s goal came on a five-minute major power play for Janesville following a head contact call on Tristan Rostagno.
The wild third period was chock-full of penalties, physicality, and extra skaters. Minnesota coach Corey Millen pulled goaltender Luke Kania early in the period, and Jacob Tinker (9:04 3rd) was able to cut the Wilderness deficit to three. Halfway through the period, Connor Bucsis and Cullen Munson headed to their respective locker rooms for early showers, with each player assessed a double minor for roughing and a10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials. Kip Hoffmann (10:47 3rd, 16:57 3rd) added a pair of empty net goals on his 19th birthday to seal the win for Janesville. Martin Sundberg (18:46 3rd) finished the scoring and a wild night in Cloquet. Adam Winborg notched a pair of assists in the period, giving him three on the night and upping his weekend scoring total to six points on one goal and five assists, earning him the Midwest Division Star of the Week award.
Jets goaltender Jack LaFontaine (17-8-6) was nearly perfect, stopping 26 of 27 shots and registering the win. Luke Kania (15-6-1) struggled for Minnesota, allowing five goals on 15 shots, and was tagged for the loss.
Thursday, March 10 @ Coulee Region Chill – 7:00 p.m. CST
Friday, March 11 vs Minnesota Wilderness – 7:00 p.m. CST
Saturday, March 12 vs Minnesota Wilderness – 7:00 p.m. CST
Two of the league’s hottest teams clash in a rare Thursday night showdown, as the Coulee Region Chill host the Jets in another edition of the Battle of Wisconsin for the Blain’s Dairyland Milk Can Trophy. Coulee Region is coming off of a home sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears and have won eight of their last 10 games, three of which have come over the Wilderness. Monday morning, Coulee Region announced in a press release that head coach and general manager AJ Degenhardt will resign from his post effective at the end of this season. Degenhardt, a La Crosse native and former Badger, has accepted a position with Team Illinois for the 2016-17 season.
Following Thursday’s game upstate, the Jets will return to Janesville for their first home series in nearly a month, hosting the Minnesota Wilderness for the teams’ last regular season meetings. The Wilderness have struggled as of late, posting a 1-3-1 record in their last five games, and just a 5-4-1 mark since the beginning of February.
Midwest Division Recap:
While the Jets and the Wilderness clashed in Cloquet, the Coulee Region Chill staved off the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday and finished the home sweep on Saturday, picking up a crucial four points in the standings. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, also playing in the continental 48, swept the Springfield Jr. Blues, scoring nine goals in their weekend at the Nelson Center. Coulee Region’s sweep puts them just four points behind Springfield for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division, with three games in hand over the Jr. Blues. The third-place Jets still hold four games in hand over the Wilderness, who sit just six points ahead of Janesville for the second seed and home ice advantage in the Divisional Semi-Finals round. With each of their final 13 games coming against Minnesota, Springfield, and Coulee Region, the Jets’ focus on a friendly playoff seed is as tight as ever.
Midwest Division Standings:
Fairbanks Ice Dogs……………….…..41-7-3, 85 points
Minnesota Wilderness ….……..……..31-16-4, 66 points
Janesville Jets………..……………….27-14-6, 60 points
Springfield Jr. Blues…..………………25-19-6, 56 points
Coulee Region Chill………….………26-21-0, 52 points
Kenai River Brown Bears……….……3-45-3, 9 points
This Friday night, March 11th, is the Janesville Jets’ Home Improvement Night. The Jets’ second annual Home Improvement Night, presented by Bjoin Limestone, will feature concourse tables from participating renovators, contractors, and other businesses to help inform fans of their options as spring approaches. It’s also the Jets’ Reading Club Night, when the team celebrates the conclusion of its Reading Club program. Over 1,000 Janesville area elementary school students participated in the program, designed to emphasize the importance of reading by encouraging kids to read on a regular basis. Over 200 students successfully completed the program and earned their free ticket to Friday’s game. The Janesville Jets, in partnership with Family Video and Marco’s Pizza, are proud to award these bright young students for their accomplishments. Friday night the Jets will also honor the Park Place Pirates, who captured the 50-and-older Tier II pond hockey championship at the 2016 Eagle River Labatt Blue/USAH Pond Nationals last month in Eagle River.
Saturday night, March 12th, is the Janesville Jets’ second Small Business Night of the 2015-16 season. A rapidly growing favorite, Small Business Night offers fans the chance to support locally-owned businesses, and businesses the chance to display themselves to the community.