JANESVILLE, WI— The Jets keep rolling.
Janesville pulled off the four-game sweep of division rival Springfield with a pair of wins over the Jr. Blues, 2-1 and 5-4, each capped with beautiful goals from TJ Polglaze.
“It felt really good to finally get those in,” admitted the Beloit native. “We’re just playing the right way. Get to the net, that’s where all the goals are scored. 80 or 85% of goals are scored at the net, and that’s where I scored them this weekend.”
Polglaze’s highlight reel game-winner on Friday broke a third period tie, and Saturday’s came in the three-on-three overtime period.
Four of Polglaze’s five goals this season have come at home, where the Beloit native is often represented by dozens of friends and family.
“Definitely Saturday’s was more fun,” Polglaze said. “I got go to ‘celly’ in front of the family in my corner there. That was a lot of fun to get the win for the boys.”
Another local, Jack Vincent (Verona), scored his first goal back as a Jet in Saturday’s win.
“It’s been great to have him back,” said Polglaze. “He brings a lot of good energy in the locker room. He’s a funny guy and a good teammate, and brings skill and good depth to our team.”
The Janesville Jets (22-8-2-0) were nearly stymied by an impressive night from the Springfield Jr. Blues‘ (18-13-1-1) Jurja Ovecka, but TJ Polglaze‘s power move with three minutes left in regulation earned him the game-winner and extended the Jets’ streak to five.
The Jr. Blues got the jump in the first period after killing off the game’s first penalty. The Jr. Blues transitioned quickly through the neutral zone and split the Jets’ defense, allowing Ethan Stewart (15:17 1st) an open lane to the net, where he deposited his 13th goal of the season.
Just 71 seconds into the second period, Jakov Novak (1:11 2nd) extended his point streak to nine games with a game-tying goal, stuffing home a relatively uncontested backdoor feed from Benji Eckerle.
Janesville’s penalty kill unit stepped up to a big task in the third period, killing off a long two-man disadvantage to keep the game tied. The Jets kept up the pressure on Ovecka, who for a long time looked as though he would steal at least a point for his Jr. Blues. With just three minutes left in regulation, it was the Jets’ 38th shot on goal that finally translated to the second goal of the night. TJ Polglaze (17:00 3rd) barreled up the left wing and cut to the net at the faceoff dot, where he left a drop pass for Sam Renlund. Renlund executed the give-and-go back to Polglaze, who fought the Jr. Blues defenseman all the way to the ice, smacking home the backhand in mid-fall.
Jurja Ovecka (8-5-0-1) was stellar despite the loss, turning aside 37 of Janesville’s 39 shots, but Garrett Nieto (12-3-0-0) was unbeaten in the game’s final two periods, stopping 24 of 25 for the win.
The Janesville Jets (23-8-2-0) surrendered a two-goal lead, struck three times over a two minute span to come back, and gave up a game-tying goal with 63 seconds left in regulation, but finally put away the Springfield Jr. Blues (18-14-1-1) in overtime, ending a wild back-and-forth tilt at the Janesville Ice Arena to extend the win streak to six.
Playing in front of a full crowd from the preceding Guns ‘N Hoses charity game, the Jets came out flat in the first, allowing Shane Haviland (5:29 1st) to score the crowd-silencer early in the contest. A couple of minutes later, the Jr. Blues doubled the lead on the power play with a weird goal from Spencer DenBeste (8:11 1st) that ramped off a Jets defenseman and fell behind Garrett Nieto. From there, the Jets went to work. Jakov Novak (11:33 1st) extended his point streak to 10 games on a backdoor jam from Logan Ommen. Only 24 seconds later, the Jets carried the momentum through on Kip Hoffmann‘s (11:57 1st) stick. The captain followed up on his own rebound from a pretty passing play with Novak and Benji Eckerle to tie the game at 2-2. The tying goal ended the night early for Jurja Ovecka as head coach Tyler Rennette swapped in Evan Fear. Just two minutes later, Janesville capped its goal explosion with a power play marker from Jack Vincent (13:40 1st), his first back in Janesville. Vincent found empty space in front of Fear and backhanded a rebound in the air for the 3-2 lead. Springfield had the last laugh of the wild period with their own power play goal from Spencer DenBeste (17:22 1st), his second of the period.
After a six-goal first period, the red lights got a rest in the middle frame.
The drought continued well into the third period. The Jets broke the 3-3 tie with just 3:21 remaining in regulation on a net-crashing effort from Brenden MacLaren and Alec Semandel (16:39 3rd), who jumped on MacLaren’s rebound for his fourth of the season. With their net empty and just 1:07 on the clock, the Jr. Blues tied the game on Ethan Stewart‘s (18:53 3rd) second of the weekend and earned a point in the standings.
Hardly a minute into overtime, a loose puck trickled out of the Jets’ zone and died at the faceoff dot to the right of Fear. TJ Polglaze won the race, picked up the puck, and fired a short-side game-winner.
Garrett Nieto (13-3-0-0) earned his fifth straight win on a 25/29 night. Jurja Ovecka‘s night registered a no decision, and Evan Fear (8-5-2-0) was stuck with the loss, giving up three goals in his nearly 50 minutes between the pipes.
Midwest Division Recap
Outside of Janesville, the rest of division play all came in the late games from Alaska, where the Fairbanks Ice Dogs swept the South Division’s Lone Star Brahmas. Despite a six-game win streak, Janesville has been unable to make up any ground on Fairbanks, who maintains a seven-point lead for the division’s top spot. The Ice Dogs have now won 10 straight, and hold an 18-game point streak dating back to November 10th when the Bismarck Bobcats won a 5-1 contest in Fairbanks. Farther south, the Kenai River Brown Bears also swept the Coulee Region Chill, though the Jets’ in-state rivals took a standings point on Saturday’s overtime loss. Kenai River’s sweep jumped them over Coulee Region for fifth in the division, but the Brown Bears remain nine points out of the fourth and final playoff spot.
Midwest Division Standings:
|1||Fairbanks Ice Dogs||25-5-3-2||55|
|3||Springfield Jr. Blues||18-14-2-1||39|
|5||Kenai River Brown Bears||12-22-1-1||26|
|6||Coulee Region Chill||9-16-2-5||25|
Friday, Jan 19: Janesville Jets @ Minnesota Magicians — 7:15 p.m. CT
Saturday, Jan 20: Janesville Jets @ Minnesota Magicians — 7:05 p.m. CT
The streaking Jets take their winning ways to the Twin Cities this weekend to play the Minnesota Magicians. Head coach Ben Weiand’s Magicians enjoyed a much-needed rest last weekend, following a home sweep at the hands of the Central Division’s Aberdeen Wings. The Magicians have five in a row since returning from the holiday break, including a two-game set at the Janesville Ice Arena. The Jets-Magicians series has seen all six games so far in Janesville, and now shifts fully to Richfield, where the Jets will visit again in February and April.