JANESVILLE, WI — A rare series begins tonight for the Jets.
An out-of-division, Saturday-Sunday series with the Minnesota Wilderness starts at 7:00pm in Cloquet, a town just outside of Duluth.
The opportunity to see some new competition is welcome to head coach Corey Leivermann.
“Besides the Showcase, we’ve played our division all year long,” said the second year bench boss. “It’s a great opportunity to see and be seen, and the extra opportunity is that we’ve got very tough competition in the Wilderness. They may be fifth in their division, but that’s a tough division to win. Aberdeen, Bismarck, Austin, Minot, they’re always very good, and they’re playing each other, very tough competition every night.”
The Jets left for Cloquet on Friday morning, taking up the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on their generous offer for a skate and a tour at the back-to-back Division I champions’ arena.
The Wilderness have eliminated the Jets in two consecutive postseasons. In 2014-15, when the Jets set league records for wins (49) and points (100), they ran into a stout Wilderness club in the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals and were eliminated in a best-of-three series. The following year, the only season these two teams were division opponents, Minnesota knocked out Janesville in the opening round.
But for the Magicians, who are off this weekend, the entire Midwest Division is playing out-of-division games. Friday night saw each Midwest team win in regulation, but Leivermann is trying his best not to peek at the standings, where his Jets sit in fifth place.
“Last weekend we had an opportunity to be in fourth with two points up on the Magicians,” he said of the split in Richfield. “Now we’re a point behind in fifth. We have games in hand, but we’d obviously rather be above them with those in hand. The bar here in Janesville is to make the playoffs, and we’ve got to come together as a team, ignore the standings, and bring a simple, honest effort this weekend. This league is a hard one to play in, and some of our rookies think they’re working hard, but there’s always more to give. When you don’t bring that effort every single shift, other teams are gonna give you a hard weekend, especially when you’re playing a tough Central opponent like the Wilderness.”
Sat Jan 25 | 7:05pm CT
Sun Jan 26 | 5:05pm CT
Record: 14-22-1-0 (5th, Midwest)
Road Record: 7-13-0-0
Last Ten Games: 3-7-0-0
Goals For/Game: 2.49 (20th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.65 (21st)
Shots For/Game: 28.38 (21st)
Shots Against/Game: 33.43 (18th)
Power Play: 21.6% (11th)
Penalty Kill: 80.9% (13th)
Top Scorers: F Nick Nardella (37GP—13G-19A—32PTS); F Isaac Novak (31GP—13G-12A—25PTS); Multiple Players (14PTS)
Goaltenders: Grant Riley (10-16-1-0, 3.30 GAA, .903 SV%); Riley Sims (1-2-0-0, 3.57 GAA, .887 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); G Grant Riley (Boston College); D Casey Roepke (Wisconsin); F Jackson Sabo (Air Force); F Charlie Schoen (Arizona State)
Record: 19-17-1-0 (5th, Central)
Home Record: 10-5-1-0
Last Ten Games: 3-6-1-0
Goals For/Game: 3.14 (15th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.16 (14th)
Shots For/Game: 31.30 (15th)
Shots Against/Game: 31.59 (11th)
Power Play: 18.1% (16th)
Penalty Kill: 88.7% (5th)
Top Scorers: F Nate Horn (37GP—16G-17A—33PTS); F Tyler Watkins (37GP—13G-18A—31PTS); D Blake Holmes (36GP—5G-20A—25PTS)
Goaltenders: Kaleb Johnson (13-10-1-0, 2.68 GAA, .913 SV%); Michael Janke
Rostered Commitments: F Nate Horn (Air Force); D Kimball Johnson (Mercyhurst); F Zach Michaelis (Nebraska-Omaha); F Aaron Myers (Bemidji State); F Bram Scheerer (Colorado College)