SPRINGFIELD, IL — In as thrilling of fashion as possible, the Jets stayed in the playoff picture with an overtime win over the Springfield Jr. Blues on Friday night. The season will literally come down to the wire in the final game of the regular season. The Anchorage Wolverines are in after winning over the Minnesota Magicians last night. Still, the Chippewa Steel lent a helping hand to the Jets with a dominant 7-2 win over the Minnesota Wilderness to make the final contest a sure-to-be nailbiter.
Janesville got off on the right foot in the opening period after a perfectly-executed play in the attacking end. Grayden Daul received a textbook backdoor pass from Cade Destefani to get out in front. The opening goal was important for the Jets, as Springfield came back the other way and tied the game only nine seconds later.
At 15:58 of the first, William Gustavsson found the back of the net for his 25th goal of the year, with Cy LeClerc adding his 46th assist to give Janesville the lead back. The Jets added one more crucial goal before the end of the period with a great back-and-forth passing play between Arsenii Smekhnov and Mack Keryluk. “Macker” got the backdoor pass from Smek and threw it into the open net to give Janesville a 3-1 lead heading to the second.
Springfield came out to start the second with a noticeable pep in their step and took little time in getting back to a deadlock with the Jets. Carson Jones scored at 2:33 of the middle frame, and Zach Bade added his second goal of the night while on the power play to tie the game at three.
Six minutes of scoreless action went by until Cade Destefani entered Springfield’s end in a 2-on-1 with Robby Newton, who sent a cross-crease feed back to Destefani, who fired it by the netminder to put the Jets back on top 4-3. Dez’s goal was his ninth of the season, and was on the heels of a tremendous penalty kill from Janesville.
The Jr. Blues remained a thorn in the side of the Jets and responded with the tying goal four minutes later, a hattrick goal for Bade to make it four-all heading into the final period of regulation. Springfield had a whopping 24 shots on goal in the middle frame.
The third period featured no scoring or penalties, and shots were almost deadlocked (11 JNE, 10 SPR). With the score also deadlocked, it was something you’d see only in the movies: with the Jets season on the line and it pretty clear the Wilderness were going to lose, Friday’s game went to overtime.
After winning the draw to start the extra frame, Janesville attempted a stretch play for a breakaway but had it broken up by Springfield to create a chance for the home team. Though their rush created knots in the stomachs of Jets fans, Janesville held strong and negated the chance the other way and picked up possession in their own end. That’s when Cade Destefani started up ice and called game.
ICYMI: Last night, Cade Destefani scored the game-winner in overtime to secure a 𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒖𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒍 Jets win and keep them in the playoff hunt heading into the final game of the regular season🙏 #Clutch #WheelsUp✈ pic.twitter.com/D8uE8iPGfA
— Janesville Jets (@JanesvilleJets1) April 16, 2022
On what appeared to be a relatively harmless opportunity, Dez dragged towards his body to change the angle and rifled a snapshot past goaltender Ethan Roberts to end the game. “I kind of blacked out once I shot it and saw it go in,” said Destefani with a laugh. The second-year forward made his commitment to Lindenwood University earlier that same day. The OT winner was the icing on the cake on a great day for Dez.
With the win, Janesville’s playoff window remains open, heading into the final game of the regular season. Only one scenario remains that would result in a playoff berth for the Jets after the Wolverines’ win on Friday. The lone scenario goes as follows:
Jets win IN REGULATION (2 points)
- Minnesota Wilderness MUST lose in regulation
If Friday night’s game didn’t get you hyped, then Saturday most certainly will. It’s do or die for the Jets.
Saturday’s game will start an hour earlier at 6:05 PM CT and can be viewed on HockeyTV with a friendly call on the “Away Audio” option. There’s also a FREE live audio radio feed that fans can tune in to! Head to the Mixlr radio feed by clicking the link here or heading to our website and clicking the “Listen Live” button at the top of the page.