Awards pile up for Jets

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Eric Schmoldt
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Off the ice, the Janesville Jets racked up more than a handful of North American Hockey League awards this week.

On it, their trek toward the Robertson Cup continues Friday.

The Jets won five Midwest Division awards, and they'll begin a best-of-five series with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday in the NAHL's division finals.

“Obviously you're happy for Cole Paskus and the two awards he got, and Michael Maloney getting (all-Midwest forward), too,” Jets coach and general manager Joe Dibble said. “But ultimately, when you look at the awards, to me the individual awards don't mean much. But the Organization of the Year in the Midwest Division is one that … I take a lot of pride in.”

Paskus took home the division's Leadership Award and Community Service Award. Maloney led the Jets with 25 goals and was second with 55 points in 56 regular-season games to be named to the all-division team. Joey Abate, a Wisconsin recruit, was named one of the division's top rookies. And Dibble was named the division's Coach of the Year.

But the organizational award meant the most to Dibble.

“It's not just the coaches and players, it's everybody,” he said. “It's the fans, the community, ownership, front office, staff. It just goes to show that everyone in the organization wants the best for everybody.”

That mentality continues on in the playoffs. The Jets swept Coulee Region in the first round and now are three wins away from advancing to the four-team Robertson Cup Championship in Duluth, Minnesota, from May 11-14.

“It would mean a lot,” Dibble said. “The guys, especially toward the end of the year, have really grasped onto the fact that there's guys in the locker room that need this team to continue to play. Instead of just wanting to win a championship, there's really a purpose down in that room to not just win the championship, but to even get there to continue to play these extra few games … for those 20-year-olds who haven't committed (to a college).

“The focus is we have to continue to play so that these guys can hopefully get something. It's taken on a different meaning. Every game we play is an additional opportunity.”

The Jets will host Games 1 and 2 against Fairbanks on Friday and Saturday night. If they win both games, they'll travel to Fairbanks for up to three games next weekend. If they lose either or both of the first two games, Game 3 will be Sunday at the Janesville Ice Arena.

Janesville went 4-0 against Fairbanks during the regular season. But all four games came in November.

The Ice Dogs, who won the Robertson Cup a year ago, swept Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs.

“They've changed and we've changed, but it'll be a good series,” Dibble said. “They've gotten some good players since we've seen them, whether it be returning from injuries or whatnot.”

The Friday and Saturday games start at 7 p.m. If there is a Sunday game at the Ice Arena, it will start at 5 p.m.

Last updated: 8:06 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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