SPRINGFIELD, IL — The Janesville Jets can play spoiler as they close their 10th regular season of play in the North American Hockey League this weekend against their oldest rivals.
Locked into the Midwest Division’s fourth seed, the Jets already know their playoff opponent will be the division champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs. A full schedule was released earlier this week for the Midwest Division Semifinals.
The Springfield Jr. Blues, on the other hand, enter the final weekend of the NAHL regular season with hopes still high for home ice advantage on their side of the Midwest Division bracket versus the Minnesota Magicians.
The Jr. Blues sit three points behind the Magicians, who close their regular season with a home-and-home series versus the Chippewa Steel. If Springfield is able to take all four points this weekend, and Chippewa holds Minnesota from collecting a single point, then the Jr. Blues would jump over the Magicians and host next weekend.
It seems like a stretch circumstance, but the Jets find themselves in a position to make sure of that.
The Janesville/Springfield rivalry dates back to 2009, when the Jr. Blues edged the Jets in their inaugural season with five wins in the nine-game regular season series. Since then, it’s practically been all Janesville. The Jets hold a 63-26-4-4 all-time record in the rivalry, and a 6-3-1-0 lead in the 12-game regular season series this year. The teams have met in the playoffs twice. Springfield took an intense five-game set in April 2012, and just last spring, the Jets swept the Jr. Blues in three games.
Playing out the stretch with an already-known postseason situation is also an opportunity for coaches to double their focus on ironing out the proverbial wrinkles. Optimism ran high in the Jets’ regular season home finale last Friday night, when Janesville snapped a seven-game skid in an emotional 7-4 victory with nearly 1,000 fans in the building. The Jets are looking for three things this weekend: build off of that energy, tighten some loose screws, and disappoint the Jr. Blues’ hopes of a second-place finish.
Tune in on HockeyTV tonight and tomorrow for a special broadcast, featuring Calvin Bush and forward Brenden Olson on the Jets mic in Springfield. Puck drops tonight at 7:05pm CDT, and tomorrow at 6:05pm CDT.
Record: 28-25-2-3 (4th, Midwest)
Road Record: 12-12-0-2
Last Ten Games: 2-7-0-1
Goals For/Game: 2.52 (18th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.10 (16th)
Shots For/Game: 28.31 (21st)
Shots Against/Game: 32.26 (12th)
Power Play: 15.7% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 75.1% (22nd)
Top Scorers: F Matt Hanewall (57GP—18G-15A—33PTS); F Jack Vincent (56GP—13G-18A—31PTS); F Nicholas Nardella (46GP—11G-20A—31PTS)
Goaltenders: Cole Brady (20-14-1-3; 2.82 GAA; .912 SV%); Sam Metcalf (7-9-0-1; 3.10 GAA; .902 SV%); Garrett Nieto (3-3-0-0; 3.42 GAA; .899 SV%)*
Rostered Commitments: D Sean Driscoll (Boston University); F Brenden Olson (Minnesota State); D John Prokop (Miami); F Nicholas Nardella (Michigan Tech); F Justin Engelkes (Miami); F Erik Bargholtz (Michigan State); G Cole Brady (Arizona State); G Garrett Nieto (Union)*
* Injured Reserve
SPRINGFIELD JR. BLUES
Record: 32-21-4-1 (3rd, Midwest)
Home Record: 17-8-2-1
Last Ten Games: 7-2-1-0
Goals For/Game: 3.21 (6th)
Goals Against/Game: 2.93 (13th)
Shots For/Game: 30.07 (17th)
Shots Against/Game: 28.52 (5th)
Power Play: 25.0% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 76.4% (19th)
Top Scorers: F Brandon Puricelli (57GP—30G-48A—78PTS); F Ben Schmidling (58GP—36G-29A—65PTS); F Max Brainin (57GP—19G-39A—58TS)
Goaltenders: Jack Williams (21-12-2-1; 2.81 GAA; .898 SV%); Janis Voris (8-4-0-1; 3.04 GAA; .891 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Brandon Puricelli (Minnesota-Duluth); F Caden Villegas (Union); G Jack Williams (Michigan State)