JANESVILLE, WI — The Battle of Wisconsin renews again tonight as the Chippewa Steel visit the Janesville Jets in the seventh of 12 meetings between the in-state rivals.
The stingy, hard-working Steel are 6-0 versus the Jets this season, but the teams haven’t met in more than a month. Since getting swept in a home-and-home series with Chippewa last month, Janesville has won seven of nine games, and have outscored their opposition 32-23 in the victories.
“Being 0-6 against a rival like Chippewa is something that we as a coaching staff find unacceptable,” said head coach Corey Leivermann. “We’ve learned through the first three quarters of our season that if we don’t bring that simple, honest effort to a game, we can lose to anybody. When Chippewa plays like their coaches want them to, it’s a really good, tight, defensive team that works hard. When we try to force our skill to win us games, we can get in trouble, but a simple, honest effort lets that skill take over.”
This week has been an odd schedule for both teams.
The Jets enjoyed an off night on Valentine’s Day, and play just the single game tonight before the Top Prospects Tournament begins Monday in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Chippewa traveled to Richfield, Minnesota, for a quick game against the Magicians on Wednesday night, and hosted the Fairbanks Ice Dogs last night. The Steel lost both, earning a point against the Ice Dogs in a shootout loss.
“A couple of years ago, it was tough on the other end of the event,” said Leivermann of the February 2018 schedule. “Our guys came back from Top Prospects and had a three-game series beginning the very next day. So for a guy like Jakov Novak, it was five games in five days. Obviously it’s nice to have a lighter weekend going into the event this year, since it’s such an important opportunity for the players we have going.”
The Jets are nearly entirely healthy, Leivermann said, with forward Brandon McNamara’s lingering upper-body injury keeping him out tonight.
Tonight’s American Cancer Society Night, the sixth annual fundraiser night, features a full-team ceremonial puck drop performed entirely by cancer survivors. Then after the game, Jets players will come back onto the ice and each present a special luminaria bag they have decorated in memory or in celebration of someone in their life affected by cancer.
“It’s really special for our guys to take part in an event like this,” said Leivermann. “It’s a really cool moment seeing that many survivors on the ice to start our game, and it can be a really motivating moment for everyone. It’s an opportunity for our guys to remember that we play for other people, we play for the community here in Janesville and not just for ourselves.”
About 20 pucks will drop at 7:05pm tonight. Tickets are available online and at any Lions Quick Mart location in Janesville.
|1||x – Fairbanks Ice Dogs||46||34-9-1-2||71|
|2||Kenai River Brown Bears||48||25-17-3-3||56|
|6||Springfield Jr. Blues||46||14-28-2-2||32|
Sat Feb 15 | 7:05pm CT
Record: 20-23-1-0 (4th, Midwest)
Home Record: 8-9-1-0
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0-0
Goals For/Game: 2.82 (19th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.68 (21st)
Shots For/Game: 29.43 (19th)
Shots Against/Game: 34.14 (21st)
Power Play: 21.7% (11th)
Penalty Kill: 82.1% (11th)
Top Scorers: F Nick Nardella (44GP—16G-26A—42PTS); F Isaac Novak (38GP—19G-17A—36PTS); F Charlie Schoen (28GP—4G-20A—24PTS)
Goaltenders: Grant Riley (13-16-1-0, 3.27 GAA, .906 SV%); Riley Sims (4-3-0-0, 3.94 GAA, .880 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: 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); F Jackson Sabo (Air Force); F Charlie Schoen (Arizona State); F Arsenii Smekhnov (UConn)
Record: 24-15-3-3 (2nd, Midwest)
Road Record: 8-9-0-0
Last Ten Games: 5-4-0-1
Goals For/Game: 3.33 (11th)
Goals Against/Game: 2.71 (8th)
Shots For/Game: 32.14 (13th)
Shots Against/Game: 31.17 (9th)
Power Play: 25.8% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 76.9% (21st)
Top Scorers: F Jacob Dirks (42GP—24G-18A—42PTS); F Connor Szmul (42GP—19G-22A—41PTS); F Killian Kiecker-Olson (29GP—12G-22A—34PTS)
Goaltenders: Trent Burnham (16-11-0-1, 2.46 GAA, .925 SV%); Grant Boldt (10-3-0-0, 2.70 GAA, .903 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Jacob Dirks (Ferris State); F Connor Szmul (Alabama-Huntsville)