By Rob Brent | February 10, 2019 | 2:00pm
JANESVILLE, WI – It wasn’t pretty, but the Janesville Jets earned a road sweep this weekend in Chippewa. The team overcame early offensive adversity and put together a solid third period to complete the third period comeback. Read more about how it all went down in our three keys to the game.
The Jets got off to a slow start on Saturday night in every sense of the word. Pucks consistently did not find their way to the net, as Janesville could not find any way to jumpstart the offense. This was a complete contrast to the previous night (The Jets outshot the Steel 15-7 in the first period of Friday night’s contest) and it showed on the score sheet.
Neither team would score a goal in the first period, but the Jets particularly looked sluggish, only registering two shots on goal for the entire period. It did not get much better in the second either, as the Chippewa goalie only had to make 6 saves. The second period would also be where the first goal of the game was scored, as the Steel found the board midway through the second.
All in all, this was not a positive start for Janesville. The first two periods were tarnished by sluggish offensive play and it seemed unlikely much more would happen in the third period, as the Jets skated into the final frame having not scored a goal and only putting the puck on net 8 times through the first 40 minutes of the contest.
Although the Jets still got the win, the performance in the first two periods Saturday night is a display they should not look to make a trend.
MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
The Jet’s situation had seemed dire for the first two periods, but halfway through the period, the game started to shift. Defenseman Philp Bjorkmann scored his first goal of the season to tie the game up with ten minutes remaining. The goal was a result of a nifty play in the offensive zone in which the Jet’s center cleanly won the faceoff to winger Nicholas Nardella. Nardella would immediately play the puck back to Sean Driscoll. Driscoll slid the puck across the ice to Bjorkmann who wristed home the game tying goal.
With about 4 minutes remaining in the period, the Jets would take their first lead of the game when Matt Hanewall fired a pass to Nicholas Nardella across the crease. The puck found the back of the net in what is a goal that is currently being credit to Hanewall, but on the replay appears to have been put in by Nardella. Regardless it was a great team play that resulted in the Jets’ lead. With a minute remaining and the Steel goaltender pulled, Hanewall would score an empty net goal of off a nice defensive play and pass by Sean Driscoll. The Steel would score as time expired with exactly one second on the clock. This made Hanewall’s goal the game winner. That sentence may sound familiar, and that would be because it is. On this Jet’s recent three game win streak all three game winning goals have been scored by Matt Hanewall.
The Jets offense may have exploded in the third period, but they would not have had that opportunity if not for the stellar play of goaltender Sam Metcalf. Metcalf stopped 29 shots of the 31 he faced, which allowed the Jets to stay in the game. This sterling performance was not just on show tonight, but the entire weekend as well. On Friday night Metcalf made 26 saves on 27 shots, which brought his save percentage for the weekend series to an impressive 94.8%
Metcalf has now backstopped the Jets to three straight wins, and has looked like a changed goaltender. In his last three games, Metcalf has allowed an average of 1.92 goals per game and is saving 93.7% of shots coming his way. This is a stark contrast to his performance before this three game stretch, and both he and the Jets will hope he can keep it up. When he is at the top of his game, Metcalf is able to keep Janesville in games they may not be performing too well in, like the first two periods of Saturday night’s contest. This weekend was the first time this season Metcalf has started both games of a series for the Jets.
Janesville got a crucial road sweep and Chippewa, but they can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Next weekend, the Springfield Jr. Blues come to town in a monumental divisional matchup. This will be the third matchup between Springfield and Janesville in four weeks.
The two clubs sit only two points apart in the Midwest division standings. Janesville is in the drivers’ seat, and continuing this stretch of wins would widen the gap further. In the two previously contested series neither team budged as the both picked up a win and a loss, as they traded dueling weekend splits.
MIDWEST DIVISION STANDINGS
Don’t miss what may be the most important tilt of the Jet’s season next weekend. Tickets are still available Online or at any Lions Quick Mart location.