JANESVILLE, WI – A road sweep of the Springfield Jr. Blues last weekend sets the table for a nine-game Jets home stand, beginning tonight versus the Minnesota Wilderness.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs last night handed a 5-1 loss to their in-state rivals, the Kenai River Brown Bears, putting themselves into a nearly identical standings tie with Janesville for 2nd place in the Midwest Division. The Ice Dogs hold the tiebreak over the Jets, but Janesville has a juicy opportunity to “make hay,” as head coach Gary Shuchuk put it, with such a long stretch of playing on their home ice and sleeping in their own beds. On top of that, the first-place Magicians and second-place Ice Dogs occupy five of these nine straight home games.
All this true, the team’s focus is on their opponents tonight. An interdivision showdown with their former division rivals, the Minnesota Wilderness, brings a red-hot hockey club to town.
Head coach Dave Boitz’s Wilderness have won seven of their last 10 contests, dating back to the last time these two teams met in Cloquet, Minnesota, an even split. Three of those seven wins have come in road games versus the Bismarck Bobcats, the Chippewa Steel, and the Minnesota Magicians. Goaltender Ryan Fanti, a Thunder Bay, Ontario, native, has been exceptionally hot lately. His five-game win streak helped him to Bauer Star of the Week honors on November 19, and performed well despite a loss to the Magicians last Wednesday (24/26; .923 save percentage).
Jets rookie goaltender Cole Brady has one Star of the Week award to his name (October 15 after a sweep in Kenai River), and has picked up a 2nd Star and three Honorable Mentions. Brady’s .931 save percentage ranks him fifth in the league among qualified goalies, and his 18 appearances this season outpace the other four goaltenders above him. With Garrett Nieto officially out for the season, Brady has risen to meet higher expectations, and will battle the Wilderness’ combo of Fanti and North Dakota commit Kaleb Johnson.
Jets fans this weekend are without question eager to see a new but familiar face behind the bench. The team announced Wednesday that former Jets forward Lennie Childs has been added to Hockey Operations, serving the NAHL Jets as an assistant coach. Childs’ position largely focuses on the Wisconsin Junior Jets, a AAA player development program, but for tonight and for every game down the stretch, the smile known most to wear a white and maroon jersey will instead don a suit behind the Jets’ bench.
Tonight’s game features a Free Kids promotion, presented by BMO Harris Bank. One lucky child in attendance will take home a free Nintendo Switch, and BMO Harris will give away a Badgers hockey jersey. Tomorrow night, the Jets are giving away a signed, game-used Joe Pavelski stick.
Puck drops both nights at 7:00pm CST. Both games are broadcast live on HockeyTV.
Record: 13-8-2-1 (3rd, Midwest)
Home Record: 3-2-2-0
Goals For/Game: 2.17 (21st)
Goals Against/Game: 2.58 (12th)
Shots For/Game: 25.54 (24th)
Shots Against/Game: 31.88 (14th)
Power Play: 14.4% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 84.5% (8th)
Top Scorers: F Jack Vincent (23GP—6G-11A—17PTS); F Matt Hanewall (24GP—6G-7A—13PTS); F Erik Bargholtz (22GP—3G-7A—10PTS)
Goaltenders: Cole Brady (8-4-1-0; 2.18 GAA; .928 SV%); Zach Hearn (0-0-0-0); Garrett Nieto (3-3-0-0; 3.42 GAA; .899 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Nicholas Nardella (Michigan Tech); F Justin Engelkes (Miami); F Erik Bargholtz (Michigan State); G Cole Brady (Arizona State); F Brenden MacLaren (Ferris State); G Garrett Nieto (Union)
Record: 12-9-1-0 (5th, Central)
Road Record: 4-4-0-0
Goals For/Game: 2.82 (11th)
Goals Against/Game: 2.50 (8th)
Shots For/Game: 30.18 (18th)
Shots Against/Game: 30.95 (10th)
Power Play: 22.9% (3rd)
Penalty Kill: 83.1% (12th)
Top Scorers: F Aaron Myers (21GP—8G-11A—19PTS); D Ondrej Trejbal (22GP—6G-10A—16PTS); F Luke Dow (15GP—2G-14A—16PTS)
Goaltenders: Ryan Fanti (8-6-1-0; 2.28 GAA; .927 SV%); Kaleb Johnson (4-3-0-0; 2.52 GAA; .915 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: G Kaleb Johnson (North Dakota)