JANESVILLE, WI — A 6-1 win Friday extended the Jets’ win streak to six games, but a 6-1 loss Saturday ended it, and earned a split for the Springfield Jr. Blues.
In each game, the winning team gave up the first goal, which would end up the only goal allowed, before scoring six straight. Isaac Novak, the Jets’ lone scorer on Saturday, extended his own streak to four straight games with a goal.
FRIDAY — W, 6-1
Another excellent night between the pipes from Grant Riley and a five-goal second period extended the Jets’ win streak to six Friday night.
Midway through the first, Caden Villegas (11:01 1st) snuck into the low slot and went upstairs with a wrister to put his Jr. Blues ahead early. Tying the game later was Jackson Sabo (15:20 1st), breaking a nine-game goalless streak with a turnaround shot off of a rebound.
The Jets exploded in the second period. First it was Anthony Szurlej (0:30 2nd) finishing a flurry of chances with a seeing-eye shot from the point. Then, on the Jets’ only power play of the night, Isaac Novak (4:47 2nd) one-timed an east-west pass from Charlie Schoen. Power forward Henry Sweeney (5:46 2nd; 16:52 2nd) got the next two, first wrapping a missed point shot, and then late in the period taking a nice pass from Ján Lašák and beating Wilson on the shot. The Jets’ fifth of the period was a total team effort resulting in a very special goal. First, Jordon Halverson made a play to break up a 2-on-1, then Carter Hottmann found a streaking Nick Michel (18:19 2nd), who muscled through two Springfield defensemen and beat Wilson on a partial breakaway. It was Michel’s first goal as a Jet, and his first goal since April 6th, 2018. A knee injury he suffered at the end of the 2017-18 season required four surgeries and more than a year of arduous rehab. Michel made his return to hockey (and his first appearance as a Jet) last weekend in his home state of Minnesota, and only needed three games to light the lamp again.
The Jets stifled the Jr. Blues in the third, keeping Riley’s workload to just five saves en route to the win.
Grant Riley (8-7-1-0) earned his fourth straight victory, stopping 23 of 24. Ryan Wilson (6-7-1-0) was tagged for the loss, making 15 saves on 23 Jets shots through two periods. Alex Proctor registered no decision and stopped all 11 shots in the third period.
SATURDAY — L, 6-1
Janesville’s streak ended Saturday night when Springfield scored three times in 3:51 of play to tie the game, take the lead, and add an insurance marker, spoiling the Jets debut for goaltender Max Miller.
The Jets’ top power play unit struck again Saturday with the game’s first goal. From the top of the umbrella, Jordon Halverson fed Isaac Novak (6:36 1st) for a one-timer high over a sprawling Alex Proctor. In the final minute of the period, Hunter Longhi (19:23 1st) walked into an empty slot and went far side on a wrister.
The Jr. Blues scored the eventual game-winner on an odd-man rush as Noah Marino (1:53 2nd) tapped in a cross-crease pass from Danila Larionovs. A few minutes later, Carson Jones (3:14 2nd) one-timed a loose puck that was dumped into the corner.
Caden Villegas (3:06 3rd) scored his second of the weekend early in the third period off of a Jonathan Panisa takeaway. Springfield later added empty-net goals from Jonathan Panisa (16:36 3rd) and Giovanni Carabelli (18:36 3rd).
Alex Proctor (2-3-1-1), who stopped 11/11 in Friday’s third period, earned the win Saturday on a 25/26 night. Former Odessa Jackalope Max Miller (1-2-0-0) was tagged for the loss in his Jets debut with 21 saves on 25 shots.
Around the Division
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 5
Minnesota Magicians 0 @ Austin Bruins 4
Chippewa Steel 3 @ Aberdeen Wings 6
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 6
Austin Bruins 5 @ Minnesota Magicians 2
Chippewa Steel 1 @ Aberdeen Wings 4
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 4 (SO)
|1||Kenai River Brown Bears||25||17-5-1-2||37|
|2||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||24||14-8-0-2||30|
|5||Springfield Jr. Blues||24||8-13-2-1||19|
The streak snapping Saturday definitely meant a much less fun bus ride home to Janesville. Perhaps it’s best, though, to relieve the pressure a win streak can generate, especially now that the Jets trek north to Alaska for the final five games of this nine-game road stretch. Those series begin Thanksgiving night in Fairbanks, where the Jets could climb as close as a single point away from the second-place Ice Dogs.
Standings-watchers also noticed the Aberdeen Wings’ sweep of the Chippewa Steel, which, with the Jets’ Friday win, dropped the Steel to fourth in the Midwest.
All 10 of the Jets’ final games before the holiday break are against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the Kenai River Brown Bears, the two top teams in the Midwest Division. Janesville will get six swings at Fairbanks and four at Kenai River, which will tell the hockey world a lot about the teams involved.
Six straight wins proved a lot for the Jets, even if they came against the division’s current bottom two teams. Just how good can this young, developing Jets roster be, though? As we approach the halfway point (game #30 on Dec. 12th vs. Fairbanks), how much has this group jelled, and are the high-end youngsters ready to battle night-in and night-out?
We’re going to find out a lot on this road trip, beginning just a few hours after the leftovers are put away on Thursday.
All games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
Jets @ Ice Dogs | Thur Nov 28 | 10:00pm CST
Jets @ Ice Dogs | Fri Nov 29 | 10:30pm CST
Jets @ Ice Dogs | Sat Nov 30 | 10:30pm CST