Jets welcome Coulee Region in home opener
The Janesville Jets came home from the NAHL Showcase with more confidence than their tournament record indicated.
The Jets went 1-2-1 over four games over the long weekend, but they closed out the event with an overtime victory over Amarillo, the defending Robertson Cup champions.
The team brought that momentum home to the Janesville Ice Arena, where it will open its home slate on Friday and Saturday with a home series against Coulee Region.
“The biggest thing for us is just learning how to put together a 60-minute hockey game,” Jets coach Joe Dibble said. “I saw a lot of good things that happened, but we got a lot of teaching moments out of this week. We're happy with where we're at, and we've got a lot of good pieces, it's just putting everything together.”
The Jets left Blaine, Minn., feeling like they had a chance to win all four games.
The first was a 2-1 loss, while on Thursday they lost in a shootout to Kenai River—a team that went on to finish as co-champion with a 4-0 record. Janesville squandered a 2-1 third-period lead on Saturday before finally breaking through against the defending champs on Saturday.
“It was a big overtime win for us against the defending national champions with Jordan Himley's goal in overtime,” Dibble said. “To come out of there with a W against that team, it was a huge confidence-builder for us.”
Jets newcomer Robin Hoglund was named the NAHL North Division's second star of the week after putting up seven points at the Showcase. Jordan Himley had six.
Jets fans will also see a familiar face between the pipes, as Brock Kautz returned prior to the trip. Kautz went 1-1 in Blaine. Upon his return, Janesville traded Austin Priebe—an Air Force commit.
“Brock's a kid that's going into his third year here in Janesville, and he's going into his fifth year of junior hockey,” Dibble said. “Austin deserves the opportunity to be the No. 1 goalie and not share the net, as does Brock.”
Kautz and the Jets take on the Chill at 7 p.m. both nights this weekend.
Coulee Region went 3-1 at the Showcase.
“They've got a veteran hockey team this year; they did a lot of rebuilding and brought in some older kids,” Dibble said. “They're going to be bigger, they're going to skate, and they're going to be physical. That's something in our building where teams need to understand that when they come here, they're going to get outworked, they're going to get hit and they're going to get scored on.
“That's the mentality we have to have right off the get-go.”