By: Rob Brent | April 11, 2019 |4:00pm
JANESVILLE, WI – The Janesville Jets will travel to Fairbanks, Alaska this weekend to take on the Ice Dogs in round one of the NAHL Midwest Division playoffs.
The matchup will be a rematch of last years’ second round series that saw the Jets put in a strong effort, only to fall to Fairbanks in 5 games. The two clubs have made a habit of seeing each other in the playoffs, as both the Jets and Ice Dogs are two of the most consistently successful teams in the league.
The rivalry will be renewed once again starting on Friday, April 12 in what should be a hard fought series for both sides.
Game 1 | Friday, April 12 | Big Dipper Ice Arena | 10:30pm CST
Game 2 | Saturday, April 13 | Big Dipper Ice Arena | 10:30 CST
IF JANESVILLE WINS ONE OR BOTH OF GAME 1&2
Game 3 | Sunday, April 14 | Big Dipper Ice Arena | 5:00pm CST
*Game 4 | Friday, April 19 | Janesville Ice Arena | 7:00pm CST
*Game 5 | Saturday, April 20 | Janesville Ice Arena | 7:00pm CST
IF FAIRBANKS WINS BOTH GAMES 1&2
Game 3 | Friday, April 19 | Janesville Ice Arena | 7:00pm CST
*Game 4 | Saturday, April 20 | Janesville Ice Arena | 7:00pm CST
*Game 5 | Sunday, April 21 | Janesville Ice Arena | 3:00pm CST
Season Series (Jets 4-6-0-0)
Oct. 5 | Jets 4 @ Ice Dogs 2
Oct. 6 | Jets 0 @ Ice Dogs 5
Dec. 7 | Ice Dogs 0 @ Jets 3
Jan. 4 | Ice Dogs 5 @ Jets 3
Jan. 5 | Ice Dogs 3 @ Jets 4 (OT)
Feb. 22 | Ice Dogs4 @ Jets 5 (SO)
Feb. 23 | Ice Dogs 2 @ Jets 0
Mar. 14 | Jets 0 @ Ice Dogs 3
Mar. 15 | Jets 3 @ Ice Dogs 8
Mar. 16 | Jets 2 @ Ice Dogs 3
|Janesville Jets||VS||Fairbanks Ice Dogs|
|2.55||Goals Per Game||3.40|
|3.10||Goals Against Per Game||2.30|
|M. Hanewall (20)||Leading Goal Scorer||J. Murray (20)|
|T- M. Hanewall/N. Nardella (36)||Leadings Scorer||J. Sorenson (56)|
C. Brady (21-17-1-3, .912 SV%, 2.79 GAA)
|Top Goaltender||M. Sholl (17-1-3-1, .934 SV%, 1.69 GAA)|
Key to the Series – Janesville Jets
Special Teams – Though the Jets sit at fourth in the division, this season’s results may be misleading. The Jets have struggled at times to execute on special teams, both on the powerplay and penalty kill. However, when those two units are working well, the Jets can beat any team in the division. This is clearly evidenced by the results against the Ice Dogs this season. in the four wins against Fairbanks, the Jets powerplay scored three times on ten opportunities for a 30% clip. Perhaps even more importantly, they killed 11 of 12 Fairbanks’ powerplays in these wins.
However, this is a very different story when you look at the times Janesville lost to Fairbanks this season. In losses to the Ice Dogs, the Jets’ powerplay went 1 for 20, or 5%. The Ice Dogs powerplay operated at a rate of 40.1%.
These two stats serve as a stark contrast that on it’s face may seem negative. However, this actually means these two teams could be much closer than they would initially appear. When the Jets’ special teams units execute, Janesville has every opportunity to win the series.
Key to the Series – Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Take Advantage of Home Ice – The Janesville Jets are no strangers to traveling to Fairbanks for a playoff series. The two teams met in the second round of last years’ playoffs as well. The Jets took two of the first three games in Alaska, and although the Ice Dogs escaped by the skin of their teeth, this is not a result they would like to repeat.
Janesville has been much less kind to the Ice Dogs this year, as they have lost 3 out of 5 games in Wisconsin. They have been much more successful at home, beating the Jets in all but one game in Fairbanks. If the Jets can repeat their performance last year and take a game or two in Fairbanks, the Ice Dogs will firmly be on the ropes.
Fairbanks is known as a raucous crowd, and the home team must take advantage of this fact, as well as all the difficulties of traveling to Alaska to play hockey, in order to win this series.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Matt Hanewall – Hanewall was recently named the offensive player of the year for the Jets, and for good reason. The forward comes into the playoffs on a hot streak having recorded 6 goals in his last 4 games. Hanewall also have 4 game winning goals this season and has proven to be one the key cogs of Janesville’s offense. If the Jets win this series, expect Hanewall to be a large part of that effort.
Nicholas Nardella – Nardella, like Hanewall, is also entering the playoffs on a massive hot streak. He was recently recognized as the Midwest Division star of the week for this recent tear. Nardella has recorded a point in 9 of his last 12 games, a stretch that has seen him score 4 goals and add 9 assists. The Michigan Tech commit will look to continue this level of production in this series, making him a forward to watch.
Sean Driscoll – Driscoll has been an important member of the Jets’ roster all season, and this will continue going into the playoffs. Driscoll is the Jets’ leading scorer, registering 4 goals and 25 assists. Scoring is not the only feature of Driscoll’s game though. The defenseman has acted as a swiss army knife for the team, playing an important role on the powerplay and penalty kill. Janesville will lean on Driscoll in important situations, and his performance will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this series.
Cole Brady – Cole Brady was recently named the Jets’ MVP, and this performance will need to continue throughout the playoffs. The goaltender is more than up to the task, however, as some of his best performances of the season have come against Fairbanks. This was most evident on March 14th, a game in which Brady stopped 50 shots. Although that game went as a loss, it was still a phenomenal performance by the young goaltender.
FAIRBANKS ICE DOGS
Jonathan Sorenson – Jonathan Sorenson completed his first year of junior hockey this year, and it proved to be a very successful one. Sorenson lead the Ice Dogs is scoring with 56 points in 60 games. The Forward is committed to University of Minnesota, and will be an important piece of the Ice Dogs offense throughout these playoffs.
John Stampohar – Stampohar is the most offensive minded of the Ice Dogs defenseman which paid dividends this season. The blueliner lead the team in goals by a defenseman with 12, doubling the goal total by their next highest scoring D-man. He was the teams’ fifth highest leading scorer, and will have to continue this prowess in the playoffs for the Ice Dogs to be successful.
Mattias Sholl – The Fairbanks Ice Dogs have two solid goaltenders, but the one to watch in this series is Mattias Sholl. Sholl became the Ice Dogs primary goaltender in March and has not looked back. Of all qualified goalies, Sholl stands at the top of the league in goals against average (1.69) and second in save percentage (.934).
Despite this being a 1 vs 4 seed matchup, The Jets have played well against the Ice Dogs this season in most match ups. With the recent run of form, Janesville will have every opportunity to succeed.