By Mason Lyttle
The Janesville Jets keep rolling.
A three-goal comeback sparked a shootout win in Friday’s home opener, setting up Saturday’s punctuating win over the Minnesota Magicians for the sweep. The Jets move to 6-1-0-0 on the young season and stayed ahead of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who trail Janesville by just two points and have one game in hand. Come April, these are the kinds of points that some teams are grateful to have, and others wish they did. The Jets, icing their youngest ever roster, are off and running.
Friday, Sept 29: Minnesota Magicians 4, Janesville Jets 5 (SO)
Shots: Magicians 33, Jets 49
PP: Magicians 0-3, Jets 3-3
The Janesville Jets (5-1-0-0) came out flat in their opening 20 minutes of home action this season, allowing two goals in 24 seconds and digging themselves in to a three-goal deficit after one period. The Jets rallied to close the lead and tie the game before surrendering another lead, this time late in the 3rd period. With the extra attacker, Janesville again equalized, and hung on in an eight-round shootout to beat the Minnesota Magicians (0-2-0-1) in the most dramatic home opener in recent memory.
After John Keranen (4:20 1st) and Brendan Skarda (4:44 1st) quickly got their Magicians going, the Jets calmed down a bit and started putting together scoring chances. However, defensive zone coverage broke down late in the period, allowing Kyler Grundy (16:52 1st) to walk in front of Daniel Lebedeff and put home a backhand for the third goal of the period.
With leftover power play time from a late first period penalty, it was Jakov Novak (1:28 2nd) who started the Jets’ comeback with a one-time blast from the slot. Later in the period, the Jets earned their second power play opportunity and capitalized there, as well. On nearly the exact same play, Novak one-timed a shot from Alec Semandel which Erik Palmqvist (11:10 2nd) tipped past George McBey. A few minutes later, Blake Ripley (14:40 2nd) scored his first as a Jet, putting home a turn-around wrist shot on a loose puck and finishing the comeback.
The Magicians regained a lead midway through the third period on a partial breakaway from Carter Breitenfeldt (10:21 3rd), who carried a puck up the left wing and found a hole through Lebedeff. With less than two minutes to play, the Jets pulled Lebedeff for the extra attacker, and it was Carter Ekberg (18:23 3rd) playing hero. Ekberg’s wrist shot from the point found maybe the only existing angle through the traffic and past McBey, tying the game again.
After a scoreless 3-on-3 overtime, the Midwest Division foes traded threats in the shootout, with Bram Scheerer and Andrew Kangas scoring for Minnesota, and Christophe Fillion and Kip Hoffmann for Janesville. Both goalies battened down the hatches in the sudden death portion of the shootout, until Blake Ripley sealed the win for Janesville in the eighth round.
George McBey (0-1-0-0) weathered a lot of Janesville’s attack, but couldn’t finish the job, taking the loss on a 44/48 evening. Daniel Lebedeff (2-1-0-0) played a corollary game, rebounding from a shaky start and earning the win, making 29 saves on 33 shots.
Saturday, September 30: Minnesota Magicians 2, Janesville Jets 4
Shots: Magicians 39, Jets 38
PP: Magicians 2-7, Jets 1-1
After an emotionally-charged comeback win Friday night, the Janesville Jets (6-1-0-0) came out much stronger in Saturday’s first period, and finished off the Minnesota Magicians (0-3-0-1) for the series sweep.
Continuing their hot streak on the power play, the Jets took the early lead on a tip-in goal from Blake Ripley (4:31 1st), who himself added his second goal in as many nights. Also on the power play, Brendan Skarda (9:49 1st) also scored his second of the weekend, sniping a short-side shot past Garrett Nieto to tie the game at 1-1. Later, Logan Ommen (15:35 1st) broke what would be the game’s last tie with his first goal of the season, taking a pass from Nathan Solis and roofing a shot for the 2-1 lead.
After a scoreless second, Erik Palmqvist (4:09 3rd) continued his impressive rookie season, scoring his third goal of the season on a breakaway as he pulled the puck to his backhand and grew the Jets’ lead to two goals. Six minutes later, Jakov Novak (10:06 3rd) picked off a lazy pass and buried an insurance marker. Kyler Grundy (12:51 3rd) would score a power play goal for Minnesota later, but the Magicians would not complete the comeback.
Isaiah Saville (0-2-0-0) took the loss for Minnesota, making 34 saves on 38 shots, while Garrett Nieto (4-0-0-0) stayed unbeaten, battling through 39 shots for the victory.
Midwest Division Recap
The Jets’ sweep of the Magicians kept things close at the top and bottom of the Midwest Division standings. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs picked up their own sweep in Bismarck with 2-0 and 5-2 victories over the Bobcats, keeping coach Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs just two points behind Janesville for first place. The Magicians’ point on Friday moves them into a tie with the Coulee Region Chill, who were inactive this weekend, for 5th, but Coulee’s point coming from an overtime loss rather than a shootout loss gives them the tiebreaker. In the middle, the Kenai River Brown Bears proved they’re back and ready to compete with a road sweep of the Springfield Jr. Blues, who garnered a point in Friday’s 2-1 shootout loss but are licking wounds after an 8-3 defeat on Saturday.
Midwest Division Standings:
|Fairbanks Ice Dogs
|Springfield Jr. Blues
|Kenai River Brown Bears
|Coulee Region Chill
Friday, Oct 6: Janesville Jets @ Austin Bruins – 7:05 p.m. Central
Saturday, Oct 7: Janesville Jets @ Austin Bruins – 7:05 p.m. Central
This weekend, the Jets play their first interdivision series as they travel to southern Minnesota for a showdown against the Austin Bruins. The teams split each of the two series last season, and Austin will be hungry for a win after taking just one point from the 2017 NAHL Showcase and dropping their home opener on Saturday to the Minnesota Wilderness. Both games will be broadcast live on HockeyTV.com.
PROMOS AND EVENTS
The Jets are hosting their ninth annual Pink in the Rink weekend on October 13th and 14th. Working with Mercyhealth, the Jets will play the benefit series in specialty pink jerseys, which will be available for post-game auction on Saturday with proceeds going to the Mercy Regional Cancer Center. Stay tuned to janesvillejets.com and the Jets’ social media channels for upcoming news and coverage of the popular event.