Jets return home for stretch run of season

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Eric Schmoldt
Thursday, March 9, 2017

JANESVILLE--The Janesville Jets return to their home ice this weekend for the stretch run of the North American Hockey League season.

Last week, for seven of the team’s players, was all about showcasing their games to college and professional scouts.

They combined to score two goals and added three assists in games at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in Plymouth, Michigan. Additionally, as the first-place team in the Midwest Division, head coach and general manager Joe Dibble coached the Midwest Division’s team in the tournament.

“I like going just for the fact that you’ve got every Division I coach in one place,” Dibble said in the days leading up to the event. “It’s not a phone call or emails back and forth. We’re face-to-face and I can look them in the eyes and tell them why they should go after one of our players.

“It’s important that we’re there.”

As the first-place team, the Jets sent five players to play on the Midwest Division team. Forwards Peter Bates, Keegan Miller and Cullen Munson and defenseman LA Grissom and Adam Roeder were the team’s representatives.

Munson had a goal and an assist, and Miller and Bates each had an assist, in the team’s two games.

Additionally, Jakov Novak and Michael Maloney were chosen by NHL Central Scouting to participate for the NAHL Selects team. Novak had a goal in the team’s 6-5 overtime win over the National Team Developmental program.

“Anybody and everybody is there, whether it’s major junior, NHL, Division I, Division III,” Dibble said. “When you look in the stands, you don’t see mom and dad, you see black jackets. You get over the hype pretty quick when you walk in the building just because every person you see is a college guy.

“After warming up and things like that, it’s like, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to see for the next couple days.”

It also creates an interesting dynamic on the ice, Dibble said. Players want to showcase themselves for scouts, but they cannot accomplish that without playing as a unit with their sometimes-new linemates.

“You have kids from every team in your division,” Dibble said. “Our biggest message as coaches is that we’re not putting in a structure for them to forecheck and things like that. It is an all-star weekend. They have to showcase their skills, but part of that is also being a good teammate.

“I’ve been going seven or eight years, and I’ve never said, ‘OK, that guy is out there for himself.’ They need the other guys, and everybody there is a good player. The majority will play Division I hockey.”

After getting last weekend off, the Jets now turn their attention to wrapping up first place in the Midwest Division. They’ll play their final 11 games of the regular season over the next five weeks.

Three of those games are against rival Springfield, including Friday and Saturday night’s 7 p.m. games at the Janesville Ice Arena.

The Jets have already clinched a playoff spot and lead the division by 16 points.


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