FAIRBANKS, AK — Continued penalty kill success, timely scoring, and strong goaltending from Garrett Nieto earned a victory for the Jets on Friday, but the Fairbanks Ice Dogs rallied on Saturday with a three-goal third period to split the rematch series of last season’s Midwest Division Finals.
FRIDAY (W, 4-2)
Nieto made 12 saves in a scoreless first period, setting his Jets up for a quick start to the second. First it was Justin Engelkes (2:46 2nd) with his second in as many games as a Jet, and just 34 seconds later, alternate captain Jack Vincent (3:20 2nd) lasered a wrister past George McBey for the sudden 2-0 lead. Later in the period, recent Canisius commit John Stampohar (11:41 2nd) cut into the Jets lead. With just 17 seconds to play in the frame, Grant Ledford was assessed a roughing minor, sending the Jets to a power play. Fairbanks won the defensive zone draw and jumped on a misplay in the neutral zone, setting up a 2-on-1 for Parker Brown (19:55 2nd), who buried the short-handed equalizer.
With the energy swinging drastically away from them, the Jets collected themselves well at the second intermission and capitalized in the dying seconds of Ledford’s penalty. An all-European scoreline gave the Jets the lead again when Erik Palmqvist (1:35 3rd) smacked in a backhand rebound from Stanislav Dosek and Philip Björkman. Late in the period, Austin Koss (14:00 3rd) iced it for Janesville when an innocent wrister trickled through McBey.
The Jets’ penalty kill finished a perfect 4-4, marking the third straight perfect night for the unit. Between the home-and-home sweep of Chippewa and Friday night’s win in Fairbanks, the PK racked up a spotless 13-13 mark in three victories.
Nieto saved 20 of 22 shots his direction, earning the win, but left the game in the 3rd period with a hip injury. Cole Brady stopped all seven shots in relief. McBey finished 13/17 in the loss.
SATURDAY (L, 5-0)
A tighter-checking game from both sides saw just 35 total shots (18-17 for Janesville), but a perfect night from Sun Prairie goaltender Nate Reid, another Ice Dogs short-handed goal, and a three-goal, 72-second rally in the third period earned Fairbanks the series split.
Rookie forward Luke Ciolli (18:49 1st) scored the night’s first goal, the eventual game-winner, after slipping behind the defense and putting away a backdoor chance. In the second, it was again Luke Ciolli (10:29 2nd) finishing another short-handed 2-on-1, this time created by Grant Ledford.
The Jets unraveled in the third period. One shift after Jax Murray (14:07 3rd) made it 3-0, Rocco Lerario‘s boarding minor sent the Jets to a penalty kill. Early in their man-advantage, Jack Johnston (14:38 3rd) put home a rebound for the 4-0 lead. It was again only one more shift before Jax Murray (15:19 3rd) walked down the goal line and flipped the puck short-side on Cole Brady.
Brady finished the night with 12 saves on 17 shots, opposite Nate Reid, the Ice Dogs’ first round draft pick, who was a perfect 18/18.
Around the Division
Minnesota Magicians 1 @ Minnesota Wilderness 5
Topeka Pilots 5 @ Springfield Jr. Blues 4
Chippewa Steel 0 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 4
Minnesota Wilderness 2 @ Minnesota Magicians 3
Topeka Pilots 0 @ Springfield Jr. Blues 3
Chippewa Steel 2 @ Kenai River Brown Bears 3
|1||Kenai River Brown Bears||10||7-3-0-0||14|
|4||Springfield Jr. Blues||8||4-3-1-0||9|
|5||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||10||3-6-0-1||7|
The Jets trek south about nine hours to the fishing town of Soldotna, where the first-place Kenai River Brown Bears await after a weekend sweep of the Chippewa Steel.
Janesville swept Kenai River in a five-game regular season series last year, outscoring the Brown Bears 23-7. This year, however, has been a complete turnaround for Josh Petrich’s squad, who have enjoyed a fantastic start to the season. They boast a 37% power play, a team save percentage of .925, and have outscored their opponents 14-1 in third periods.
Both games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
Jets @ Brown Bears | Fri Oct 12 | 10:30pm CDT
Jets @ Brown Bears | Sat Oct 13 | 10:30pm CDT