Jets Split with Chippewa, Remain in Playoff Contention

By Calvin Bush (@calvin_bush24) | Mar 22, 2022 | 3:40 pm

JANESVILLE, WI — The Jets fell in Friday’s contest against the Chippewa Steel 7-4 despite a strong push in the late stages of the game, but returned to Janesville on Saturday and squeaked out a 5-4 win to snap their two-game skid. The victory slid the Jets back into a playoff position after their Friday loss dropped them into fifth. Only four weeks remain in the regular season, and just five points separate the Midwest’s third and sixth place teams. Hang on to your hats. 

Friday: L, 7-4


The Chippewa Steel came out with a big jump and a much larger sense of urgency than the visiting Jets in Friday’s game. Goals from Colin Tushie and Ryan Remick in the second half of the opening period put Chippewa up 2-0 heading into the second.

After a scoreless first frame, the Jets found the scoresheet while on the power play thanks to William Gustavsson’s 19th goal of the season and sixth on the power play. Chippewa responded with authority and added two goals from Spencer Bellina and Matthew Grannan that made it 4-1 and provided a heavy advantage for the Steel heading into the third.

Even after two strong periods that saw two goals each, the home squad wasn’t done scoring yet. Kade Nielsen scored on the power play at 7:47, making it a 5-1 game. Janesville received a power play three minutes later and pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker, but Matthew Brille shot into the empty cage that seemingly ended the game. 

Down 6-1, the Jets found an extra gear and began to claw their way back into the game. At 11:44 of the third, Cade Destefani found the back of the net for the fourth time to bring the team to within four. A minute later, Spencer Kring sent a laser of a wrist shot over the outstretched glove of Croix Kochendorfer and off the far post that was initially ruled no goal. After some discussion between the officials and the goal judge, the referee pointed to center ice to signal a good goal for Kring, his fifth of the year, that suddenly had the Jets rolling in a 6-3 game.

Janesville went to their third power play of the night two minutes after the goal, which worked in their favor. While lurking around the goal crease, Cy LeClerc found Jan “Zigi” Lasak on an open look that resulted in a goal, Zigi’s 23rd of the year. The goal brought the deficit to two goals just six minutes after the Jets trailed by five. Janesville finished the night two for three on the power play.

With the momentum entirely on the Jets’ side and a comeback building, the Steel stopped the attempt on another empty-net goal that halted the momentum and sealed the 7-4 win.

Owen Millward was on the receiving end of a loss for only the second time in almost two months, turning in a respectable 30 saves on 35 shots. Janesville recorded 32 shots on goal, though the total could’ve been much higher had the Steel not blocked a number of the Jets’ shots and setup passes in the attacking end. The loss was the first one against the Steel all season.

FRIDAY BOX SCORE

 

Saturday: W, 5-4


Following a rare loss to their in-state rivals, the Jets returned to familiar territory and avenged the previous game against the Steel with a win and a near-perfect finish to the regular season.

Janesville flipped the script on Chippewa and scored twice in the first twenty to get the home crowd up and rowdy on Reading Club Night from the Hangar. Zigi Lasak got on the board at the 3:17 mark, and Arsenii Smekhnov stayed hot with another while on the power play at 10:20 of the opening stanza.

Chippewa came roaring back and pulled into a 2-2 tie only four minutes into the middle frame with goals from Joseph Grainda and Ryan Remick. 

Sensing the urgency from the packed stands and eager to get back in front, Jonah Aegerter sniped his 12th goal at 11:32 of the period to put the Jets back on top, 3-2.

At 18:43 and on the man advantage again, Cy LeClerc became just the second player in Jets history to score 30 goals in a single season. Jakov Novak, who scored 32 goals in his MVP-winning 2017-18 season, is the only other to accomplish the rare feat. Novak holds the record for most points in a single season (73) and is tied with Zach Lavalle for the single-season assists record (41). LeClerc currently sits at 68 total points, 30 goals, and 38 assists and has nine games left to get to the top of said records.

The third period got a bit dicey after Chippewa again scored early. Matthew Brille found the back of the net only 49 seconds into the last frame to bring the Steel back to within one.

Following a nine-minute lull in scoring, Parker Mabbett scored his third goal of the year that became the game-winner and a 5-3 score at the time.

Brille scored again for the Steel at 12:18 of the period and, much like the Jets had done on Friday night, got ever so close to capping off a strong comeback, but the Jets held firm and maintained their one-goal lead to secure the win, 5-4.

The Steel elected to sit Kochendorfer and play Nick Haas in the regular-season finale, who made 20 saves on 25 shots in the loss. Owen Millward made his fifth consecutive start and was again tested heavily with 36 shots against. Milly made 32 saves in his 26th win of the year and has faced at least 30 shots in four of his last five outings.

SATURDAY BOX SCORE

Around the Division

THURSDAY SCORE

Minnesota Wilderness 3 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 1

FRIDAY SCORES

Springfield Jr. Blues 0 @ Minnesota Magicians 1

Minnesota Wilderness 7 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 1

Anchorage Wolverines 4 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 2

@ Kenai River Brown Bears 5

SATURDAY SCORES

Springfield Jr. Blues 3 @ Minnesota Magicians 2 (F/OT)

Minnesota Wilderness 3 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 1

Anchorage Wolverines 3 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 8

STANDINGS

Place Team GP Record Pts
1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs 54 33-18-1-2 69
2 Springfield Jr. Blues 52 32-17-1-2 67
3 Minnesota Wilderness 52 30-21-1-0 61
4 Janesville Jets 51 29-21-0-1 59
5 Anchorage Wolverines  50 26-18-4-2 58
6 MN Magicians 51 24-19-5-3 56
7 Chippewa Steel 51 20-28-1-2 43
8 Kenai River Brown Bears 54 13-36-3-2 31

Next Flight:

The Jets will head to the State of Hockey for two weeks, starting with an important two games against the Minnesota Wilderness this weekend, followed by two against the Magicians to open the month of April. 


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