Bluebirds lose playoff opener
Sometimes the puck doesn't bounce your way.
The Janesville Bluebirds learned that lesson the hard way Thursday night.
Nicholas Elsen scored four goals to lead the seventh-seeded Kenosha co-op team to a surprising 7-3 win over second-seeded Janesville in a WIAA regional final boys hockey game at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The loss snapped a 12-game unbeaten streak for Janesville and avenged a 7-1 loss Kenosha suffered against the Bluebirds during the regular season.
Janesville took a 2-0 lead Thursday but could not generate anything offensively after that. The city's co-op team eventually tied the game at 3-3 after two periods, but Kenosha erupted for four goals in the final 17 minutes, three of which came from the stick of Elsen.
“I thought we left about four or five goals on the ice the first period,” Janesville coach John Mauermann said. “We didn't have our sticks on the ice or it bounced over us, but even then I thought we would eventually get it. But it seemed the more we worked, the less we accomplished.
“I felt all along that No. 15 (Elsen) for them was one of the best players in the state, and he played like that tonight. And when the fastest skater on the ice gets one breakaway opportunity after another, like he did, he's bound to find the net.”
Janesville led 2-1 after the first period on goals from Tyler Kulas and Ben Coulter. Kenosha scored three straight to take a 3-2 lead in the second before Kulas tied the game at 12:54.
The third period was all Thunder. Joey Trifone gave Kenosha the lead for good at 4:29 of the third and Elsen made it 5-3 with his second goal of the night at 10:15.
Elsen's hat trick on a power play at 13:38 pushed the lead to 6-3 and all but ended any hopes for a Janesville comeback.
Janesville outshot Kenosha 39-23, but Thunder goalie Andrew Laforge played well after a rough start.
“The first time we played them this season, we got a couple of soft goals,” Mauermann said. “That wasn't the case tonight. Once he made a couple of big stops, he started playing with a lot more confidence.
“It hurts because we had been playing so well. But some nights it's like that. You work and work and work but have nothing to show for it. That was the case tonight.”
Kenosha moves on to play the winner of tonight's game between sixth-seeded Beloit and third-seeded Marquette University in a sectional semifinal next week.
KENOSHA 7, JANESVILLE 3
Kenosha 1 2 4—7
Janesville 2 1 0—3
J—Tyler Kulas (Ben Coulter), 2:52. J—Coulter (Kulas), 5:35. K—Joey Trifone, 10:13.
K—Kyle Kuhfuss (Trifone, Glen Emanuelson)2:09. K—Nicholas Elsen, 10:20. J—Kulas (Coulter), 12:54.
K—Trifone (Kuhfuss, Keegan Marifern), 4:29. K—Elsen (Cody Faber), 10:15. K—Elsen (Trifone, Chase Erickson), pp, 13:38. K—Elsen, en, 16:51.
Saves—Joseph Laforge (K) 36, Jack Bostedt (J) 17.