JANESVILLE, WI — The Jets split the Springfield Jr. Blues at home last weekend across another successful Pink in the Rink benefit promotion, picking up a point in a Friday night overtime loss and capping the weekend with a 3-1 win.
Injuries to both Garrett Nieto and Cole Brady meant the Jets needed two emergency goaltenders dressed. Owen Zdunski, formerly of the Chippewa Steel, and Madison Capitols 18U netminder Eli Bowers joined the Jets in relief.
Following Saturday’s game, the Jets’ specialty pink jerseys were auctioned off live, raising a record $5,000 for Mercyhealth Cancer Center.
FRIDAY — OTL, 3-2
With Brady and Nieto out, the Jets tabbed Owen Zdunski to start ahead of Eli Bowers. Zdunski played well, and the Jets outshot the Jr. Blues 39-25, but a late third-period goal sent the teams to overtime, where Springfield stole a win.
Scoring one of the earliest goals in Pink in the Rink history, Sean Driscoll (1:42 1st) jump-started his Jets on a seeing-eye shot from the point that beat goaltender Caleb Hannon. Later in the period, one of Driscoll’s billet brothers doubled the lead. Logan Ommen (13:13 1st) turned in a Goal of the Year candidate on a 200-foot effort. Between the dots in his defensive zone, Ommen collected a loose puck, chipped it off the right wing wall, and gave chase on the Jr. Blues defenseman. At the attacking dot, he poked the puck towards Hannon’s blocker side, sprawled out past the defenseman, and with one hand, swept in his third of the season.
Midway through the second, defenseman Philip Björkman and Springfield forward Braden Stewart dropped the gloves behind a Jets breakout. The fight went back and forth with both combatants trading punches until they wrestled to the ice. Later in the second, just after a Jets penalty expired, Hannon started a quick Jr. Blues breakout that sprung Caden Villegas (14:08 2nd) for a quick breakaway goal, beating Zdunski on a forehand-backhand move.
With less than five minutes left in the third period, Giovanni Carabelli (15:28 3rd) intercepted a pass deep in the Jets zone and buried the game-tying goal.
The three-on-three overtime was brief. Jordon Halverson rung a shot off the pipe on an entry, and seconds later, former Jet Brandon Puricelli (0:44 OT) put the puck post-and-in to seal the game at 3-2 for Springfield.
The game-winner was the 25th shot Zdunski faced, stopping 22 pucks in his Jets debut. Caleb Hannon was fantastic for Springfield, turning aside 37 of 39 pucks in the winning net.
SATURDAY — W, 3-1
After a solid relief performance from Zdunski, the Jets’ injury list shortened by one Saturday night when Cole Brady made his return. Brady was outstanding for Janesville, stringing together his third consecutive game with just one goal allowed, and outdueling fellow NHL Draft hopeful Jack Williams.
After a quieter debut Friday night, newly-arrived forward Nick Nardella made an impact early Saturday. Quickly off a zone entry early in the first period, the former Green Bay Gambler centered a pass for Jack Vincent (7:45 1st), who tipped it past Williams for his second of the season.
Scoreless hockey carried things into the midway point of the second period, until Wausau native Nick Techel (10:02 2nd) caught up to a stretch pass in the neutral zone and fired a wrister past Brady from just above the right wing dot. A few minutes later, it was again Jack Vincent (12:14 2nd) scoring for Janesville when the alternate captain tapped in a loose puck just inches in front of a wide-open night.
In the third period, the Jets struck on their second power play of the night when Nick Nardella (8:20 3rd) earned his first goal as a Jet, blasting a shot from the right point for the insurance marker.
Brady’s 25 saves earned him his fifth NAHL win, opposite Jack Williams, who made 21 saves on 24 shots in the loss.
Around the Division
Chippewa Steel 2 @ Minnesota Magicians 3 (SO)
Minnesota Magicians 3 @ Austin Bruins 2
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4 @ Corpus Christi IceRays 1
Kenai River Brown Bears 2 @ Topeka Pilots 3
Aberdeen Wings 4 @ Chippewa Steel 1
Austin Bruins 4 @ Minnesota Magicians 0
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3 @ Corpus Christi IceRays 2 (OT)
Kenai River Brown Bears 5 @ Topeka Pilots 2
Aberdeen Wings 7 @ Chippewa Steel 1
|3||Kenai River Brown Bears||14||8-5-0-1||17|
|4||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||14||7-6-0-1||15|
|5||Springfield Jr. Blues||12||5-5-1-1||12|
The Jets carry their four-game point streak north to Cloquet, Minnesota, where they’ll play the Minnesota Wilderness in a pair of interdivision games.
The Wilderness are former division rivals of the Jets, and in both 2015 and 2016 put hard stops on Janesville’s playoff runs. Head coach Dave Boitz’s group, currently fifth in the competitive Central Division, split the Brookings Blizzard last weekend in South Dakota, and before hosting Janesville will travel down to Austin for a single game versus the Bruins on Wednesday. The Wilderness boast the league’s second-ranked penalty kill unit (88.9%) and feature seven players with seven points or more on the young season.
Both games from the beautiful Northwoods Credit Union Arena will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
Jets @ Wilderness | Fri Oct 26 | 7:05pm CDT
Jets @ Wilderness | Sat Oct 27 | 7:35pm CDT