“It’s pretty exciting. Any time you get your work recognized on the ice, it’s a good feeling,” said Millward. “I owe a lot of it to the guys, we played really well defensively this weekend. They deserve a ton of credit, too.” The Jets held the Kenai River Brown Bears to just five goals in three games en route to a sweep last weekend.
Millward, a returner to the Jets roster from last year, has already matched his win total this season from the 2020-21 season (13), though the previous year in the NAHL for Janesville was limited to fewer games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, the goalie out of California has found a groove in his game at the halfway point of the season and has won four of his last five appearances. “We’ve got a lot of experience back on the defensive side of things, which has really helped us a ton and given me a lot of confidence,” said Millward when asked about the returning starters and how that’s helped his game. “Having me back has helped for the guys I think, too; having that relationship and chemistry that’s carried on from last year, it’s worked well for us.”
The Jets managed to bring back nine starters from the 2020-21 season, and the bond that the guys share has undoubtedly made a difference in bouncing back following a stretch that saw the team start 2-8 in their first ten games to start the 2021 campaign. Currently, the Jets own a 15-17-0-1 record and sit in sixth in the Midwest Division and only five points outside the fourth playoff spot.
Millward recorded his third shutout of the season on Friday night against Kenai River, a 24-save outing that backstopped the Jets to a 6-0 win. Milly followed up his performance with another brilliant showing in the Saturday finale, where he stopped 30 of 32 shots that allowed the Jets to get to overtime and eventually come away with the extra point. Mike D’Orazio was also part of the goaltending showcase last weekend and recorded 42 saves on 45 shots, plus four additional stops in the shootout, helping the Jets to a thrilling 4-3 win in the shootout on Thursday. With the stellar display from both netminders, the Jets currently find themselves on a four-game win streak.
“Owen had a great weekend. The shutout speaks for itself, and the second night as well, he made some big saves early and then later in the game when we needed it,” Jets head coach Parker Burgess said. “He [Millward] gave our team a ton of confidence, knowing that our goalie was making saves and bailing us out at times, it helped the guys in front of him a lot.”
Millward had a winning streak of six games earlier this season and has posted two shutouts in three starts, and coach Burgess knew that this was just a matter of time for Millward and the rest of the team. “This isn’t an easy league to play in, but we’ve been working hard all year to get to this point, and we’re doing things the right way and more consistently. Owen has always had the talent and desire to play well, he’s now finding ways to be more consistent, and with that consistency, you’re seeing confidence and that confidence filters into the team.
“We just need to stick to the day-to-day grind, get through these tough stretches, and play the same way we did: some hard-nosed defense,” said Millward on the keys to success and staying hot moving forward. “We’ve stuck with our gameplan, haven’t tried to stray away from our style of play, and it’s worked. We just gotta keep at it from here.”
The Jets will have one game on Friday night against the Chippewa Steel, their first game against their fellow Wisconsinites, before heading to Alaska for two weekends of games against the Kenai River Brown Bears and Anchorage Wolverines. The NAHL Showcase Tournament will follow after a week off in the opening week of February.