The first round of the 2021 Battle for Wisconsin against the Steel and Jets was all Janesville as the Jets came away with a sweep in a home-and-home series on Thursday and Saturday.
Thursday’s series opener at Chippewa saw the Jets score twice in the first period with tallies from Jackson Ezman and Nick Leyer. Charlie Schoen scored in the second period to give Janesville a 3-0 lead in enemy territory after 40 minutes.
The Steel led in shots 32-19 after two periods, but were continuously thwarted by newcomer goaltender Eli Bowers. Chippewa did score twice in the third, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the Jets’ lead or to topple Bowers. He ended the evening with a huge 38 saves.
Chippewa came to Janesville for the rubber match and again faced an uphill battle with Bowers in net and a tough Jets offense. The home team scored a trio of goals from Charlie Schoen, Blake Dangos and Jonah Aegerter in the first ten minutes for a 3-0 lead that would hold through the first period of play.
Justin Thompson scored his first goal since Nov. 5 halfway through the second period to pad the lead while Bowers kept the Steel scoreless after 40 minutes. Chippewa scored both on the power play and shorthanded in the final period of play, but Tommy Middleton scored his first goal as a Jet since March 1, 2019 to secure the 5-2 victory.
Bowers earned his second win of the season and had 31 saves on the night.
With the sweep, the Jets got a solid 2-0 start to the 2021 Battle of Wisconsin. The two teams will meet 10 more times during the regular season in pursuit of the coveted Blain’s Farm and Fleet America’s Dairyland Milk Can Trophy.
Janesville is now 10-6-2-0 on the season and has reclaimed its lead in the Midwest Division standings with 22 points.
The Jets will have a week off after the Battle of Wisconsin opener before returning to action with a road series against Fairbanks on Feb.19-20.