Weekend Preview: Jets at Wilderness (G52 & G53)

By Calvin Bush (@calvin_bush24) | Mar 25, 2022 | 5:15 pm

CLOQUET, MN — A two-week road trip to the State of Hockey begins tonight, starting with the Minnesota Wilderness, and both weekends are crucial for the Jets when it comes to playoff implications. With only nine games left in the regular season, all of them against playoff-hopeful teams, each game is big until April 16. The Jets and Wilderness currently hold playoff spots at third and fourth, respectively. The next three weeks provide a massive opportunity for one team to get a jump in the standings and keep their playoff chances probable.

Both the Jets and Wilderness have been two of the hottest team in the NAHL. Minnesota was on a high with a seven-game winning streak that spanned from January 14 to February 12, and they have won 15 of their last 18 games. The Jets, of course, one-upped Minnesota’s streak and won 11 consecutive from January 28 to March 11. Since January 1, the Jets have played 22 games and won 18.

Contributions from the entire offense and stellar goaltending have contributed significantly to Janesville’s recent success, and the same can be said for the Wilderness. Since acquiring former Springfield Jr. Blues goaltender Matthew Smith, the Wilderness have seen their team goals-against average drop — a good thing. The shiny new tendy in Minny has won nine of ten games played and owns a 1.76 GAA and earned Midwest Star of the Week with his strong performances in a sweep over the Kenai River Brown Bears last week.

Paired with great goaltending is some timely goal-scoring from rookie forward Nicholas Rexine, who committed to Western Michigan University in February. The Syracuse, New York native, has led the Wilderness offense and is the fourth-highest scorer in the rookie class with 58 points. The team averages just under four goals per game, which ranks sixth in the NAHL. The same can’t be said for their average goals against, though the beginning portion of the season skews that number a shade. Nonetheless, the Wilderness have a new look and are geared up for what they hope will be another championship-winning playoff run.

The Jets managed to break their losing skid of two games from home ice with a 5-4 win over the Chippewa Steel to close out their regular-season series. After a humbling loss to the Steel the night previously in Chippewa, the Jets returned with a better mindset and, ultimately, better performance to get back in the win column. The victory was much-needed heading into the competitive road trip, as the next three weeks will see games against both Minnesota teams, four of them against the Wilderness.

During their winning streak, goal-scoring was no issue, nor was any part of Janesville’s game. Owen Millward was the hottest goaltender in the league, posting a shutout almost weekly, and the offense was averaging over four goals per game. When you win 11 consecutive games, it’s no secret that there will be some down performances. The two losses to Springfield and Chippewa can be classified as those. The Jets scored two goals in the loss to the Jr. Blues and allowed seven to the Steel, though two were empty netters. With the taste of victory fresh on their taste buds, the Jets will have another challenge in a hot goaltender and strong opponent in the Steel, but we know what this unit can do when they’re clicking.

The Jets lost the first four matchups against the Wilderness but got a sweep in Janesville in their last series against them to own a 2-4 record. These two were well-acquainted earlier this year after playing four games in three weeks but have since maintained a long-distance relationship that will be rekindled this weekend, and two weeks after that, AND, potentially, into the postseason. Only time will tell.

The Wilderness are riding a four-game winning streak, winning over the Anchorage Wolverines and a three-game sweep over the Kenai River Brown Bears last weekend. Next weekend, they’ll host the Springfield Jr. Blues before heading to Janesville to conclude their regular-season series against the Jets. Janesville will head to Richfield next weekend to take on the Minnesota Magicians for the last time this year.

You can watch Friday and Saturday’s games by heading to HockeyTV and hitting the “Away Audio” for a friendly call! We also have a newer LIVE audio stream online through Mixlr! You can listen to the audio-only feed by clicking here, or downloading the Mixlr app in the Apple or Google Play store, searching for our page (Janesville Jets), and finding the live stream.

Puck drop is slated for 7:15 PM CT. If you’re not watching or listening, you can always follow us on our TwitterFacebook, and Instagram platforms for updates.

#WheelsUp✈️


JANESVILLE JETS

Record: 29-21-0-1 (4th, Midwest)
Road Record: 11-14-0-0
Goals For/Game: 
3.76 (4th)
Goals Against/Game:
3.35 (20th)
Shots For/Game: 29.73 (26th)
Shots Against/Game:
30.24 (12th)
Power Play:
23.8% (8th) 
Penalty Kill:
72.6% (27th)
Top Scorers: 
F Cy LeClerc (51GP—30G-38A—68PTS); F Jan Lasak (42GP—24G-21A—45PTS); F William Gustavsson (47GP—19G-24A—43PTS)
Goaltenders: Owen Millward (26-10-0-0; 2.73 GAA; .908 SV%); Michael D’Orazio (3-8-0-0; 3.84 GAA; .879 SV%); Ryan Whittaker (0-1-0-0;  6.00 GAA; .778 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Robby Newton (University of Wisconsin); F Grayden Daul (University of Wisconsin); F Jonah Aegerter (St. Cloud State); F Cy LeClerc (University of New Hampshire); F Jan Lasak (St. Lawrence University); F Ethan Begg (University of Vermont); F Jack Ford (Army-West Point); D AJ Casperson (Long Island University); F Jimmy Doyle (St. Lawrence University); F Jack Larrigan (University of Notre Dame); F Joseph Kramer (Providence College); D Cal Mell (Union College); D Charlie Lieberman (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); D Spencer Kring (Bethel University)


MINNESOTA WILDERNESS

Record: 30-21-1-0 (3rd, Midwest)
Home Record: 16-9-0-0 
Goals For/Game:
3.60 (6th)
Goals Against/Game:
3.44 (21st)
Shots For/Game:
32.48 (10th)
Shots Against/Game:
29.87 (11th)
Power Play:
20.3% (13th)
Penalty Kill:
79.5% (18th)
Top Scorers:
F Nicholas Rexine (46GP—16G-37A—53PTS); F Gunnar Thoreson (52GP—14G-38A—52PTS); F William Persson (40GP—19G-25A—44PTS)
Goaltenders:
Matthew Smith (10-1-0-3; 1.78 GAA; .934 SV%); Konrad Kausch (7-4-0-1; 3.18 GAA; .892 SV%)
Rostered Commitments:
D Cole Crusberg-Roseen (University of Massachusetts); D Bobby Metz (Colgate University); D Aaron Pionk (Minnesota State-Mankato); F Nicholas Rexine (Western Michigan University); F Ethan Wolthers (Western Michigan University)


100+ NCAA commitments since 2009.