Jets face must-win situation

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Eric Schmoldt
Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Janesville Jets are used to having their backs against the wall.

Sitting in last place in the NAHL North earlier this calendar year, they used an us-against-the-world mentality to rise from sixth to third place by the season's end.

Now in the playoffs, the Jets again find themselves in a tight spot. They lost the opening two games of a best-of-five, first-round series against Michigan and return home to host the Warriors on Friday night with the season on the line.

“The big thing for us is just not getting discouraged,” Janesville coach Joe Dibble said. “We're in our building, and it's one game. We know we can be successful against Michigan, we just have to be ready to go and push that it could be the last day together or fight for another one.”

The Jets lost 4-2 on Friday night and 5-1 on Saturday in Flint, Mich. Perhaps more critically, they also potentially lost a couple of their top players along the way.

Forward Rob Marsanico, who joined the Jets at the trade deadline and was a key player in the playoff push, saw his season end on an illegal hit on Friday night. He had surgery on his shoulders earlier this week.

Goalie Logan Halladay, a University of Minnesota recruit, reinjured his groin at the end of Friday's game, as well. And emotional leader Zach Avolio injured a leg on Saturday.

Dibble didn't rule Halladay or Avolio out for the weekend on Wednesday, but they had yet to practice this week.

“The guys are all positive,” Dibble said. “If there heads are down about anything, (it's the injuries).

“The nice thing with the goalie situation is knowing that between (Brock) Kautz and Halladay, it doesn't matter who is in the net. With Avolio, his energy out of the lineup could hurt us, but we'll see.”

Kautz is 14-15-1-1, but he won eight of his last 11 decisions to end the season before suffering the loss Saturday night.

The Jets are 18-10-2 at home this season. Friday's game starts at 7 p.m. at the Janesville Ice Arena, and if the Jets win, they'll host at the same time again Saturday.

“It doesn't matter if it's the first game you steal (on the road) or the fifth game you steal, as long as you get the opportunity,” Dibble said. “We have to win Friday and Saturday, and at that point we'll worry about another away game.”

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