The Janesville Jets hosted a big battle for first place in the Midwest Division with the Minnesota Magicians over the weekend and came away with a series split.
Friday’s opener was all Jets offense, but started off evenly between the two teams. After the first 20 minutes, the game was scoreless with almost identical shots for both: 13 for Minnesota and 12 for Janesville.
Captain Carter Hottmann finally broke through to kick off the scoring at 2:36 of the second frame with his 11th goal of the year, assisted by Max Itagaki and Grayden Daul.
The Jets held the 1-0 lead through the end of the third period, and alternate captain Alex Lucken scored an empty-netter for some insurance and a final score of 2-0. The Magicians outshot the home team in every period of the game, but Riley Sims held strong in net for a 32-save shutout and his ninth win of the season.
The two teams remained closely-matched on Saturday and exchanged goals back-and-forth in the opening frame for a 2-2 tie after 20 minutes. Janesville’s tallies came from Tommy Middleton and Cade Destefani.
Max Itagaki regained the lead for the Jets at 2:55 of the second period, but this time the Magicians would respond more than once. Their offense exploded and they scored five unanswered goals to bring the score to 7-3 after 40 minutes of play.
Janesville began to mount a comeback late in the third period with a power play goal from Shane Ott at 13:37 and another from Nick Leyer just over a minute later, but time ran out quickly and Minnesota added another for an 8-5 victory for the visitors.
While Janesville only took two of a possible four points on the series versus its closest opponent, a lucky midweek game keeps the Jets in first place by just one point, with 40. The Chippewa Steel also came to town for St. Patty’s match-up in the continuing Battle of Wisconsin on Wednesday, and the 8-1 rout gave the Jets a critical two points that padded their lead over the Magicians, even with Saturday’s loss.
The Jets now have two weeks off for spring break. When they resume action, they’ll be plenty busy with 18 games in 39 days. That slate kicks off with an action-packed road trip: First, a Battle of Wisconsin outing at Chippewa on April 8, and then travel to Richfield for a rematch with the Magicians on April 9-10.