JANESVILLE, WI — Coming off a dominant 3-0 shutout over the Jr. Blues on Friday night, the Jets tripled down and scored nine goals to obliterate the former first-place team in the division, 9-1, and secure the weekend sweep on Saturday.
Following a chess-match-type start to Friday’s game, the Jets entered the rubber match much more confident and wasted no time in opening the scoring. However, the opening goal wasn’t necessarily done by a Jet, but rather, the Jr. Blues’ own doing. Following a penalty called on Janesville, the Jr. Blues pulled netminder Ethan Roberts for the extra attacker. After entering the Jets’ zone, Springfield turned the puck back to the neutral zone, but out of the reach of everyone, and, improbably, went sliding down the clean sheet of ice and smack in the middle of the empty net. Robby Newton received credit for the empty-net goal.
Friday’s game saw just one penalty called, but Saturday was a much different story. The Jets hit their first power play not long after the first goal and struck gold on the first man advantage. Cade Destefani corralled a pass into the slot from a speeding Newton and deposited his second score in as many games to make it a 2-0 lead.
A rare lull in scoring lasted almost 13 minutes before Arsenii Smekhnov connected on a blind backdoor pass to Jan Lasak. Zigi, who already had 17 goals coming into the game, did not miss the yawning cage and put the Jets up three.
Janesville was not satisfied with the three spot in the opening frame and added one more a minute and twenty seconds later. On a perfectly executed drawn-up play from behind their own net, the Jets got a two-on-one with Cy LeClerc and William Gustavsson. Cy dished a pass from the left wing over to Gus, who sniped a snapshot by Roberts. The goal was Gustavsson’s 15th of the year and, at the time, seemingly put the game away.
Aksel Reid, who played in Friday’s game, relieved Roberts to start the second period. The second frame featured nearly a whole period of scoreless action, but Cy LeClerc decided to get the fans Culver’s early with his 23rd score of the season. Cy scooped the puck off a neutral zone turnover and skated on a breakaway, dragged forehand to backhand, and flipped it home.
The Jr. Blues managed to break the third consecutive shutout bid for Owen Millward after scoring with a minute left. The score came on what appeared to be a potential icing, but the officials waved it off.
Already with Culver’s cards secured and up 5-1, Mack Keryluk swiped a turnover, got behind the defense on a breakaway, and fired one by Reid for his 11th goal of the year in the third period.
The scoring only picked up from there, as Jack Ford also got loose on a breakaway thanks to a forced turnover from Ethan Begg and put one in the back of the net to make it 7-1 at 9:38.
At 16:03 and on the power play, Newton added his second goal, this one a legitimate shot, after lighting the lamp from the slot to add number 13 to his name.
With less than a minute left and on another power play, Gunnar Williams added one final tally for the home team on a seeing-eye wrist shot from the blue line. It was Williams’ first regular-season goal in his junior hockey career.
Goaltender Owen Millward spoke on confidence being key in finding success from the crease, and the goal support from the guys was no problem whatsoever on Saturday. Milly saw 29 shots and allowed just one to get another win. The Jets went to the power play and scored on all but one of them and only recorded 28 shots, though the quality of said shots was as good as can be.
They Said It:
Parker Burgess giving his assessment on the team’s performance in a dominant weekend:
“We really showed off our depth in the lineup. Everyone contributed and provided offense and played well in all three zones. Everybody did their job. Goaltending was tremendous, we defended extremely hard, we were connected as a group without the puck, and everybody contributed offensively. It was a six-period total team effort.”
Gunnar Williams’ thoughts on scoring the first goal of his junior career in front of a sellout crowd:
“It was nice to get the monkey off the back and to score in front of that great crowd. My parents got to see it live at the rink, so it really meant a lot to me. We had a great week of practice leading up to the weekend, and to pick up the sweep in that fashion was great for our group.”
Robby Newton on the team’s group performance and the significance the sweep held:
“The team played two complete 60-minute games. We used our depth both nights by staying out of the box, and everyone in the lineup did their part. It was imperative to get those points. Obviously, they’re a team we’re chasing, so any time we can get points from a team ahead of us is always awesome. It’s great momentum for our team, and we’re looking to carry it into next weekend.”
AJ Casperson offers his thoughts on what, if anything, changed between Friday and Saturday:
“We didn’t change anything. We knew after Friday they’d come out hard, but we focused on ourselves and what we could control. We played hard and stuck to our systems. Sometimes you just get the bounces, but we played two complete games this weekend, and that means a lot to this group going forward.”
Around the Division
Minnesota Magicians 4 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 7
Anchorage Wolverines 7 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 4
Minnesota Magicians 4 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3 (F/SO)
Anchorage Wolverines 1 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 0
Minnesota Magicians 3 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4 (F/SO)
|1||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||48||30-15-1-2||63|
|2||Springfield Jr. Blues||44||29-12-1-2||61|
|8||Kenai River Brown Bears||47||11-31-3-2||27|
The Jets will stay home for another weekend of hockey from the Hangar with their first two-game series against the Chippewa Steel. The Steel have won just two games in their last ten and surrendered the fourth playoff spot with their streak of losses. The good news for Chippewa is they’re only five points behind Janesville, though there are still six games between the two following this weekend.
- The win was the Jets’ fifth in a row and 11th in 13 games.
- Their nine goals were the most scored by the Jets in the 2021-22 season.
- It was the first time the Springfield Jr. Blues were held without a point in a series this season.
- Owen Millward earned his 20th win of the year, which is third-most among goaltenders in the league.
- Jack Ford extended his goal streak to three games with his fifth of the year.
- Crowds of 713 and 847 packed the Janesville Ice Arena Friday and Saturday, the two highest-attended games this year.
- The team moves to 22-19-0-1 on the season and is tied with the Minnesota Wilderness at 45 points in fifth place. They are just two points outside fourth.