JANESVILLE, WI— After suffering their second sweep in as many weekends, Jets assistant coach Corey Leivermann showed up to the rink last Monday with a Spikeball set, a 2-on-2 indoor/outdoor game extremely popular in junior hockey. A taut net about three feet wide stands eight inches off the ground. Players hit a softball-sized yellow ball with open hands, smacking it to each other using the net.
“Just trying to find a way to lighten the mood,” Leivermann said.
The Jets rallied for a huge come-from-behind win on Friday and never trailed on Saturday to finish off the Brookings Blizzard for the series sweep, keeping pace behind the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the Midwest Division race.
Friday, December 1: Brookings Blizzard 5, Janesville Jets 6 (OT)
Shots: Blizzard 35, Jets 37
PP: Blizzard 2-3, Jets 3-6The Janesville Jets (15-7-2-0) let their foot off the gas in the second period, allowing the Brookings Blizzard (12-10-1-1) to build a 3-1 lead, but struck for three goals on a major penalty in the third period to jump back into the game. More drama followed as the Jets would twice surrender a one-goal lead, including an allowed equalizer with three seconds left in regulation, but captain Kip Hoffmann came through in the clutch to win the game in overtime.
Late in the first period, Chippewa Falls native Jordan Steinmetz (18:49 1st) picked off a pass near the attacking blue line, walked around his defender, and deposited his first NAHL goal. Janesville carried a 1-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes of play.
The Jets’ lead held for a little more than two minutes. Early in the second period, Andriy Denyskin carried the puck into the Jets’ zone, drove wide on Daniel Lebedeff‘s blocker side, and found Doug Larson (1:04 2nd) on a cross-crease pass. Later, on the power play, Larson found Chase Brand (11:28 2nd) wide open right in front of Lebedeff. Brand picked a corner for the go-ahead goal. Three minutes later, the Blizzard doubled their lead on a turnaround shot from Max Sasson (14:25 2nd). After the horn, defenseman Cameron Teamor speared Jakov Novak by the Jets’ bench, earning a five-minute major to start the 3rd.
The Jets started the power play down 3-1 in the game, and clicked three times in 56 seconds, leading 4-3 by the time Tim Lopez, who was serving the penalty, left the box. The Blizzard kill stymied the Jets for the first three minutes before Sam Renlund found TJ Polglaze (3:48 3rd) streaking through the middle. Polglaze just opened enough space around his man to shovel a puck past Zachary Borgiel to cut the lead in half. The Jets won the ensuing draw at center, gained the blue line, and set up possession for the game-tying goal from Alec Semandel (4:15 3rd), a seeing-eye shot from the high slot. Just 29 seconds later, Semandel threw a puck to Carter Ekberg (4:44 3rd), whose shot appeared to ricochet off a Blizzard skater and past Borgiel for the 4-3 lead, capping the most exciting minute of Jets hockey this season. The dramatics were far from over. Doug Larson (8:04 3rd) scored his second of the night off a backhand pass from Josh Boyer to tie the game at 4-4.
About six minutes later, Kip Hoffmann (13:53 3rd) stole a puck at the attacking blue line, bodied off his defender while barely keeping the puck in the zone, walked in and fired a wrister for his eighth of the season. The Jets held this lead for six minutes, but surrendered a deflating goal with three seconds left to Blizzard captain Parker Revering (19:57 3rd), sending the game to overtime.
In the three-on-three period, Kip Hoffmann (0:24 OT) scored maybe the best goal in the Janesville Ice Arena’s 43-year history. He created a one-on-one with a flat-footed Carson Kosobud and beat him outside but was hauled down. From the ice, Hoffmann one-handed the puck past Borgiel for the game-winner.
Saturday’s game saw the Janesville Jets (16-7-2-0) down the Brookings Blizzard (12-11-1-1) in a goaltending duel. After winning a wild match on Friday, Daniel Lebedeff was lights out for his Jets on Saturday to cap the weekend with a win and give the Jets their first sweep since a Saturday/Sunday pair of wins in La Crosse on October 21 and 22.
Following up on his Friday heroics, captain Kip Hoffmann (6:27 1st) scored another eye-opener in Saturday’s first period, collecting a puck from behind the goal line and banking a shot past the 6’9″ goaltender, Benjamin Beck. Only a little later did Vince Marino (9:06 1st) tie the game for Brookings, centering a puck on Lebedeff that deflected off a body and in.
The second saw no scoring but plenty of action. Five minutes in, Marino nearly picked up his second of the night after intercepting a pass in the high slot. Lebedeff dove out with the poke check, sending the puck up and over him, nearly dropping into the empty net. Fans later enjoyed an increasingly-rare spectacle late in the period when Logan Ommen and Tyler Hinterser got tangled up in the corner and dropped the gloves. The 5’7″ Ommen held his own in his first NAHL fight.
Just 24 hours after collecting his first NAHL goal, Jordan Steinmetz (7:37 3rd) scored a highlight reel goal for the eventual game-winner. Steinmetz cut across the crease from Beck’s blocker side, found a puck between his skates, spun around to his forehand and beat the sprawling goaltender.
Daniel Lebedeff (8-5-2-0) was by far the Jets’ best player Saturday night, showing the hockey world exactly why he’s still on the NHL Central Scouting list. Lebedeff allowed just one goal and made 26 saves, several of which coming on high-probability scoring chances. The Maine commit Benjamin Beck (4-6-0-1) was very good for Brookings, stopping 33 of 35, but that wasn’t enough to beat Lebedeff.
Midwest Division Recap
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs stayed just ahead of the Jets for the division’s top spot, taking five of a possible six points versus the Kenai River Brown Bears in the three-game series. Fairbanks beat Kenai River 6-1 and 6-3 on Thursday and Friday, but the Brown Bears salvaged an overtime win on Friday. The Minnesota Magicians swept a home-and-home series with the Coulee Region Chill, 3-2 and 6-3, keeping Scott Meyers’ club two points ahead of the Springfield Jr. Blues, who could only split the visiting Minnesota Wilderness.
Midwest Division Standings:
|1||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||15-5-3-2||35|
|4||Springfield Jr. Blues||13-9-1-1||28|
|5||Kenai River Brown Bears||9-16-1-0||19|
|6||Coulee Region Chill||6-11-1-5||18|
Jets fans can enjoy a pair of different opponents this weekend at the Janesville Ice Arena as the Kenai River Brown Bears stop in for just one game to start an eight-game swing in the lower 48. The Springfield Jr. Blues visit on Saturday after hosting a pair against the Chill on Thursday and Friday. Now playing with some confidence, Janesville looks to deal some damage to division rivals before the holiday break.
Both games this weekend will be broadcast LIVE on HockeyTV.com. Mike Hammett will bring you the action from the Janesville Ice Arena. Click below for rates to watch the Jets both home and on the road.
PROMOS AND EVENTS
The Jets host their Weekend of Giving event this Friday and Saturday. Friday is the Jets’ second annual “Ice Out Hunger” event. The organization will donate $2 to the School District of Janesville’s Bags of Hope program, a food drive that last year fed 350 families and 50 seniors in the Janesville area, according to a recent Gazette article. Fans are also encouraged to receive $1 off their admission by bringing canned goods and nonperishables to benefit ECHO of Janesville.
The Jets are also holding their fourth annual Teddy Bear Toss event on the Saturday, December 9th game versus the Springfield Jr. Blues. The Janesville Gazette is sponsoring this season’s event.
The Teddy Bear Toss is a popular Christmas season staple for teams across junior hockey. Fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears to the game, and to throw them onto the ice when the home team scores its first goal. The toys are then gathered up to be donated as Christmas presents to hospitals and charities. The tradition was started in 1993 by the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers.
For the Jets’ event, all bears and animals will be collected and donated to the Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots program. The Jets have already received plush donations from Kohl’s and Perfectly Plus. Like with Friday’s food drive, every fan bringing a plush animal will receive $1 off their admission.
The Janesville Salvation Army has been helping area residents for 130 years, and serves not only Janesville but the whole North Rock County area, including Footville, Evansville, Milton, and Orfordville.
IN THE COMMUNITY
Jets players will again help shop for presents for the Toys for Tots program this Thursday evening at Toys R Us on Milton Ave. The program was founded in 1947 by the United States Marine Corps Reserve and distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The Salvation Army in Janesville has been participating for nearly 15 years, and helped organize the Jets’ involvement this year.
Less than a quarter mile away, at the same time,Jets captains will sign autographs at Forward Janesville’s “Home for the Holidays” Business After Five event at Blackhawk Bank’s new office space.