The Janesville Jets closed out their regular season road schedule over the weekend and came home with four of six points.
The Jets faced off against their Midwest Division rival, the Chippewa Steel, for a trio of games and got off to a hot start Thursday. Cade Destefani got the scoring going for Janesville at 9:05 of the first period for a 1-0 lead that would hold through 40 minutes.
Looking for some insurance in the final period of play, Xavier Lapointe scored his second goal of the season and Janesville’s second of the night on the power play with 11:31 remaining. The Jets continued to hold the Steel scoreless for the remainder of the game, and Max Itagaki added an empty-netter with 30 seconds remaining for the 3-0 victory.
Owen Millward earned his second NAHL shutout and made 33 saves in Thursday’s series opener.
Saturday’s game saw the tables turn between the two teams, and Chippewa got on the board first with a goal from Ian Famulak just 20 seconds in. The Steel added two more goals to its lead in the second period, and the Jets, who had just won 3-0, found themselves down 3-0 after 40 minutes of play.
Despite a whopping 23 shots in the third period, Janesville wasn’t able to mount a comeback. Max Itagaki scored his second goal in as many nights, this time on the power play, to spoil the shutout, but the Jets took the 3-1 loss.
With the weekend’s series tied 1-1, Sunday’s rubber match was full of theatrics and a high-scoring affair. The game was knotted 1-1 after just three and a half minutes with a Jets goal from Tommy Middleton, and Middleton scored again late in the first period for a 2-1 Janesville lead.
The Steel tied the game 2-2 just 1:07 into the second, and tensions began to rise. A total of 64 penalty minutes between the two teams were assessed by the end of the second period, but Janesville came out ahead in the scoring race, as Middleton scored his third of the night at 9:29 on the power play for the hat trick and 3-2 Jets advantage.
The penalties on both sides kept coming in the final period of play, and the Jets took advantage on the power play with goals from Justin Engelkes and Matt Romer. Chippewa scored an even-strength tally with less than two minutes to go to make the score 5-3, but Jake Sacratini scored an empty-netter for the Jets to secure the 6-3 win.
Owen Millward again took the win in net for Janesville, which pushed his season record to 13-7-0-2 and his record against the Steel to 6-1-0-0.
In the end, Janesville racked up 48 penalty minutes and Chippewa had 44. The Jets went 3-for-7 on the power play, while they held the Steel to just 1-for-10 on their power play chances.
The Jets close out the regular season with a long-awaited set of home games. Janesville first takes on the Minnesota Magicians, who are currently in third place in the Midwest Division, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at Janesville Ice Arena. A very limited amount of tickets for Friday’s game are now available via the Jets website. The team puts a cap on regular season action with a Sunday matinee against the Steel at 3 p.m. at Janesville Ice Arena. The Robertson Cup playoffs, in which the Jets have received a No. 1 seed, are set to begin the following week.