Friday: W/SO, 4-3
For the first 20 minutes of play on Friday, the Magicians put on a magic show and made the Jets forecheck disappear. Minnesota put up 12 shots to the Jets five and scored two goals just one minute apart to take a 2-0 lead into the second period. The Magi carried their strong momentum into the middle frame and, only 24 seconds into the period, scored a shorthanded goal to extend their lead. It was a backbreaking goal to give up, but it seemingly sparked the Jets who, while still on the power play, managed to get one back.
A minute after the shorty, AJ Casperson skated along the blue line and fired a wrist shot to the net that traveled through traffic and in. It was Casperson’s first goal of the year and a big one to stop the Magician’s surge. At the 8:37 mark, it was Cy LeClerc at the net mouth poking away at a loose puck that eventually trickled its way in for a score, his 16th on the year.
The Jets capped off the comeback and tied it at three thanks to the white-hot LeClerc once again. After a short battle in the offensive end, LeClerc came away with the puck on the far side faceoff circle, and sent a laser of a snapshot into the top portion of the net to secure his 17th goal and 30th point of the season.
Both Owen Millward and Magicians’ goaltender Henry Levy did their jobs in the final period of regulation, as no goals were scored, and we entered a three-on-three overtime period for just the second time in the 2021 season. The Magicians found themselves in 2-on-1 opportunities three times in the extra period but did not manage a shot. In fact, for the entirety of the five minutes, they did not send one shot towards the net of Millward. Instead, it was the Jets that put forth three shots, only for Levy to stop them all, which took this game to a shootout.
If the overtime period wasn’t enough to get your heart rate up, the shootout took care of that. Magicians’ forward Hunter Longhi scored in the second round, but Cy LeClerc dangled his way in for a goal to tie it. For the next five rounds, we saw a showcase of goaltending, with neither Millward nor Levy surrendering a goal. Finally, Mack Kerlyluk stepped up and delivered with a backhand winner in the bottom of the eighth to end the madness. In a marathon that saw eight rounds and 16 skaters come forward, the Jets came out victorious with a 4-3 win.
Owen Millward was a rock, as he has been many times this year, and stopped 30 of 33 shots (plus seven more if you count the shootout) en route to an exciting win.
Saturday: W, 4-0
While Friday night’s game was the textbook definition of a rollercoaster ride, the Jets felt that Saturday’s game, with a postgame Skate with the Jets session looming, should have been taken care of in regulation with no need for a sweat.
After playing the hero on Friday night, Mack Keryluk started the scoring on Saturday with a nifty far-side snipe during a 2-on-1 with five minutes left in the opening period. The second period saw another ten minutes of scoreless action before the affiliated player James Duerr scored his first NAHL goal to put the Jets up 2-0. Two minutes later, Jan “Zigi” Lasak made a great play to corral his rebound in the slot and send a backhand shot in to notch his 12th goal of the year.
The final goal of the game was scored on yet another snipe, this one by far the most impressive, from Mack Keryluk. Before entering the offensive zone, Keryluk leaned into a heavy snapshot from the blue line that whistled into the top corner of the net for an incredible goal.
Though the Jets went to the power play two times in the final ten minutes of the game, they went with the safe option of playing keep-away to preserve the 4-0 lead and wind time down,
which eventually worked to perfection. For the first time this year, and first since a 3-0 win over Chippewa on May 6 last season, Owen Millward pitched a 26-save shutout. This came 24 hours after “Milly” held down the fort for 65+ minutes in the shootout win. In his past six starts, the Davis, California native is perfect with six wins, and a .920 save percentage.
With the series sweep, the Jets finished their six-game homestand with a 5-1 record and are now only five points behind the Magicians in the Midwest Division Standings.
Around the Division
Minnesota Magicians 5 @ Minnesota Wilderness 4
Minnesota Wilderness 5 @ Chippewa Steel 7
Anchorage Wolverines 2 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4
Chippewa Steel 6 @ Minnesota Wilderness 1
Anchorage Wolverines 3 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 9
|1||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||25||16-8-0-1||33|
|2||Springfield Jr. Blues||24||15-8-0-1||31|
|8||Kenai River Brown Bears||22||4-18-0-0||8|
After a nice stay at home, the Jets will travel to the Land of Lincoln for a pair of games against the Springfield Jr. Blues this weekend. It’ll be the first games between the two since the Jets opened the regular season against them in Janesville back in September. The Jr. Blues won both games 4-1.
Jets @ Jr. Blues | Fri Dec 3 | 7:05pm CST
Jets @ Jr. Blues | Sat Dec 4 | 6:05pm CST