JANESVILLE, WI — The Jets have maybe never needed a sweep as badly as they did last weekend.
Janesville’s skill has finally started clicking, with the attack as hot as it’s been all season. A 4-3 overtime win last Friday preceded a wild 7-5 victory Saturday, adding onto the previous weekend for a total of 19 goals in the last four games.
“The biggest thing I think is that we’re officially almost healthy,” said head coach Corey Leivermann. “The pieces we’ve wanted to have in place from training camp are finally ready. Guys are getting some chemistry going and starting to put it together, and when you play hockey the right way you get rewarded offensively. It’s good to see.”
Veterans have been expected to lead this younger group, which didn’t name its captains until 15 games were in the rear view window.
“We knew we might have a little slower start than some other teams in this league, with bringing so many young kids in,” Leivermann said. “It often takes rookies ten to fifteen games to understand junior hockey. Most of our rookies have played that amount of games now, so now it’s pivoting to perfecting our systems. We gotta keep getting production from our veterans, but shouldn’t rely on it entirely anymore. Some of these younger guys can start contributing night in and night out and we’ll hopefully start to see what this team can do when it’s all clicking.”
Production from veterans has hardly ever looked as easy as Nick Nardella made it look last weekend, when his eight points helped the Jets sweep the Magicians and earned him Midwest Division Star of the Week.
Nardella signed his National Letter of Intent this week, formalizing his hockey career’s next destination as Houghton, Michigan, home of the Michigan Tech Huskies. He’s one of eight Jets with a Division I commitment, but the only ’99 for now.
Nardella and the Jets begin a nine-game road stretch tonight in Richfield with a rematch versus the Magicians. A pair next weekend in Springfield leads into the second and final Alaska trip of the season, beginning Thanksgiving Day in Fairbanks.
Leivermann hopes his team can give Jets fans a top-seeded club for Christmas.
“We’re happy with being in the playoff mix right now, but at the end of the day, with what we have here, we don’t envision being a fourth place hockey team,” said the bench boss. “We want to keep climbing that standings ladder. If we can come out of here being above third place, and putting ourselves in a good position to begin the new calendar year, that’d be huge. We just gotta keep playing Jets hockey, which we’ve proved over the last three games that we can do. On the road, it’s all business, and no distractions, so that should hopefully make it a little easier for us to stay the course and keep playing the way that we’ve been playing.”
Fri Nov 15 | 7:15pm CT
Sat Nov 16 | 7:05pm CT
Record: 8-10-1-0 (4th, Midwest)
Road Record: 3-5-0-0
Last Ten Games: 5-4-1-0
Goals For/Game: 2.89 (14th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.47 (23rd)
Shots For/Game: 29.11 (17th)
Shots Against/Game: 31.58 (17th)
Power Play: 25.9% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 80.3% (15th)
Top Scorers: F Nick Nardella (19GP—8G-13A—21PTS); F Isaac Novak (14GP—6G-9A—15PTS); D Grant Hindman (17GP—2G-8A—10PTS)
Goaltenders: Grant Riley (5-7-1-0; 3.29 GAA; .897 SV%); Sam Evola (3-1-0-1; 3.87 GAA; .883 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Jake Dunlap (UMass Amherst); D Grant Hindman (Lake Superior State); F Max Itagaki (RPI); F Parker Lindauer (Northern Michigan); F Nick Nardella (Michigan Tech); F Isaac Novak (Wisconsin); D Casey Roepke (Wisconsin); F Charlie Schoen (Arizona State)
Record: 4-8-4-2 (6th, Midwest)
Home Record: 3-2-1-1
Last Ten Games: 3-4-1-2
Goals For/Game: 2.19 (21st)
Goals Against/Game: 3.19 (16th)
Shots For/Game: 30.61 (12th)
Shots Against/Game: 30.61 (14th)
Power Play: 14.9% (17th)
Penalty Kill: 72.4% (23rd)
Top Scorers: F Marko Reifenberger (18GP—6G-7A—13PTS); F Lukas Kanta (18GP—4G-6A—10PTS); Multiple Players (8PTS)
Goaltenders: Wes Mankowski (1-2-3-1; 2.54 GAA; .922 SV%); Samuel Vyletelka (2-3-0-1; 3.04 GAA; .899 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Josh Bohlin (Wisconsin); F Rob Christy (Colorado College); F Jake Hale (Minnesota-Duluth); F Trevor Kukkonen (Michigan Tech); D Brett Oberle (Minnesota-Duluth)