Weekend Wrapup: Jets Sweep in Multi-Opponent Weekend

Feb 6, 2018

By Mason Lyttle (@MasonLyttle) | Feb 5, 2018 | 6:48pm

JANESVILLE, WI— The Jets are rolling.

Wins over Kenai River (6-2 on Friday) and Coulee Region (3-1 on Saturday) gave Janesville another four points in the standings, and sewn together with a 3-0 win in Springfield on the weekend before, construct a three-game win streak.

Zoom out, though, and this middle third of the season becomes impressive.

The Jets now ride a five-game point streak, dating back to a January 19 regulation loss in Richfield against the Magicians. That defeat snapped a six-game win streak, which ran back to Saturday, December 9, when a banged-up Jets team lost at home to Springfield. That loss ended a four-game point streak.

Put together, these little runs show a team coming together and finding itself midway through the season. Since November 25, the Jets have tallied a 13-2-2-0 record in 17 games, outscoring their opponents 58-37. In a 60-game season, that pace would register just shy of 99 points. Only two teams, Janesville in 2014-15 and Fairbanks in 2015-16, have topped that mark in the league’s 41-year history.

Coming out of their Thanksgiving dinners, the Jets saw eight straight games at home, and 13 of their next 18. Coach Gary Shuchuk and his team knew they had an opportunity to bank some points and pick up steam as the calendar pages turned and the final third of the season approached.

They did exactly that, putting together point streaks of four, six, and now an ongoing five.

Ahead of the Jets now are a lot of blue jersey nights. Starting this weekend in Cloquet, Janesville plays 12 of 14 on the road, finishing with a five-game trip to the Last Frontier in March.

Get your HockeyTV subscription if you haven’t yet, because these Jets are taking their show on the road.


Friday, February 2: Kenai River Brown Bears 2, Janesville Jets 6
Shots: Brown Bears 24, Jets 35
PP: Brown Bears 0-3, Jets 2-4

The Janesville Jets (25-9-2-1) showed their mettle Friday evening, overcoming early hiccups to knock down the Kenai River Brown Bears (12-25-1-2) at the Janesville Ice Arena.

The Brown Bears struck first, forcing a turnover and generating a rebound chance for Carter Wade (8:45 1st), who sneaked behind the Jets’ defense and deposited his third of the season into an open net. Five minutes later, Kenai River doubled its lead when Filip Karlsson found top-scorer Luke Radetic (13:38 1st) all alone between the dots. Radetic ripped one for the 2-0 lead, but from there it was all Janesville. The comeback started on the power play, where Jakov Novak (18:13 1st) took a pass from Kip Hoffmann and wired a far-side shot. Shortly after, defenseman John Pesek took a hit from Carter Wade, and the two dropped the gloves in a brief fight, each earning 15 penalty minutes.

Early in the second period, the Jets exploded for three strikes to complete the comeback and build their own two-goal lead. Less than a minute into the period, Brenden MacLaren (0:56 2nd) tipped home a shot from Matt Doyle to knot the game at 2-2.  Barely a minute later, Sam Renlund (2:05 2nd) put home a cross-crease pass from Benji Eckerle, finishing a flurry of Jets chances. Finally, it was TJ Polglaze (4:06 2nd) capping the scoring storm with another redirect goal. Polglaze parked in front of the goaltender and greased in his seventh goal of the season, ending the night for goaltender Kevin Lake.

Janesville put the game out of reach midway through the 3rd period when Hoffmann drove wide on a defenseman, went behind the net, and centered a pass for Jakov Novak (12:37 3rd) to extend the lead to 5-2. Kenai River defenseman Bronson Adams earned 27 penalty minutes for mugging Logan Ommen at his defensive blue line,  and Benji Eckerle (19:56 3rd) struck on the ensuing major penalty with just four seconds left on the clock.

Garrett Nieto (15-3-0-0) rebounded well in the winning net, turning aside 22 of the Brown Bears’ 24 shots. Kevin Lake (1-2-0-0) took the loss for Kenai River, surrendering four goals on 19 shots in 24:06 of play. Gavin Enright stopped 14 of 16 shots in relief, registering no decision.

Saturday, February 3: Coulee Region Chill 1, Janesville Jets 3
Shots: Chill 31, Jets 30
PP: Chill 1-7, Jets 0-4

The Janesville Jets (26-9-2-1) rode excellent goaltending and a sharp penalty kill unit to a big win over the Coulee Region Chill (12-20-3-5) Saturday night to keep the traveling trophy, the Blain’s Dairyland Milk Can Trophy, in Janesville. The Jets’ PK finished 6/7 with 14:09 killed and a shorthanded goal to boot.

Again scoring first for the Jets was Jakov Novak (3:24 1st), taking a beautiful breakout pass from Carter Ekberg into the attacking zone and sneaking a wrist shot far side. On a two-man advantage, the Chill’s Collin Price (12:41 1st) evened things at 1-1 with a one-time blast from the left faceoff dot. Novak would miss his opportunity to string together consecutive two-goal games late in the first period, picking up 25 penalty minutes and an early shower for a hit from behind.

Still killing the major penalty to Novak, Kip Hoffmann (2:55 2nd) scored the eventual game-winner with a beautiful display of acceleration. He sped past the high defenseman for a loose puck in the neutral zone, caught up to it in the attacking zone, and tucked in his 15th goal of the season. Something of a goaltender duel developed afterwards, as Josh Graziano and Daniel Lebedeff swatted away chances for the rest of the match. An empty netter from TJ Polglaze (19:29 3rd) sealed the win for Janesville. Defenseman Carter Ekberg picked up his fourth assist of the weekend on Polglaze’s goal, and on Monday was named the Jets’ second straight recipient of the NAHL Midwest Division Star of the Week Award.

Graziano (3-9-1-1) was very good for Coulee Region, making 27 saves on 29 shots, but his misread on Hoffmann’s breakaway turned out to be the deciding goal in the losing effort. In the other net, Lebedeff (12-6-2-1) earned the win in his second 30/31 effort in three contests. In his last three games, Lebedeff has allowed just two goals in 184:35, registering 88 saves on 90 shots.

Midwest Division Recap

After their loss Friday night, the Kenai River Brown Bears traveled south on Saturday, dropping a 4-2 contest in Springfield to the Springfield Jr. Blues. The Jr. Blues were coming off of a pair of losses in La Crosse to the Coulee Region Chill, 7-4 on Thursday and 4-1 on Friday. In an interdivision series, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs swept the Minot Minotauros, extending their mind-boggling streak to 25 straight games with a point (23-0-2-0).

Midwest Division Standings:

Place Team GP Record Pts
1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs 42 32-5-3-2 69
2 Janesville Jets 39 27-9-2-1 57
3 Minnesota Magicians 40 19-16-3-2 43
4 Springfield Jr. Blues 41 19-18-3-1 42
5 Coulee Region Chill 41 12-21-3-5 32
6 Kenai River Brown Bears 42 12-27-1-2 27


Friday, Feb 9: Janesville Jets @ Minnesota Wilderness — 7:05 p.m. CT
Saturday, Feb 10: Janesville Jets @ Minnesota Wilderness — 7:05 p.m. CT

The Jets hit the road early Friday morning for a pair against the Central Division’s Minnesota Wilderness. The former division rival swept the Jets in Janesville back in November, but have cooled off lately, winning just four of their last 10 games. Head coach Tim Madsen’s Wilderness hold a three-point lead over the Minotauros for third place.

Leading the charge offensively for the Wilderness are veterans Eric Gotz (7-27—34) and Luke Dow (8-25—33). The defenseman Gotz is committed to Miami University.  Goaltender Ryan Fanti (13-8-0-0; 2.53 GAA; .925 SV%) has started 13 of the Wilderness’ last 16 games.



Mon Feb 5
In the evening, Jets players will help lead drills at Janesville Youth Hockey’s in-house Red, White, and Blue practice.

Tues Feb 6
Jets players will have lunch with 1st and 2nd graders at Robinson Elementary in Beloit as part of the school’s bi-weekly Honors Lunch program.

Wed Feb 7
In the evening, Jets players will help lead drills at Janesville Youth Hockey’s in-house Red, White, and Blue practice.

Thur Feb 8
Jordan Steinmetz & Benji Eckerle will visit Madison Elementary School as they finish their Junior Achievement curriculum with a 1st grade classroom. Thanks to sponsors RW Baird and Nowlan & Mouat, the Jets will present each student with a family pass voucher redeemable for four admissions to any Jets regular season or playoff home game this season.