Bluebirds flying high
Janesville’s high school co-op hockey team is 10-0-2 and ranked fourth in the state in the wisconsinprephockey.com poll. The Bluebirds lead the Big Eight Conference with a 7-0-1 record, and already have beaten every team left on the conference schedule.
Not bad for a program that is on a two-year probation, and whose head coach—John Mauermann—was fired and re-hired in the off-season.
The program is on probation after the WIAA ruled that Janesville illegally cut players from its co-op program. Mauermann was advised of the rule after the alleged incident took place.
Mauermann was told last spring his contract would not be renewed after alleged misconduct during his tenure. He was re-instated by the school board after strong support from his peers, current and former players, and a general lack of evidence to support the claims against him.
The only discipline Mauermann faced was a five-game suspension to start the 2007-08 season. The team didn’t miss a beat—starting 5-0—and the players said all the off-ice distractions remain a non-issue.
“We just played through it. There wasn’t much talk about what was going on,” defenseman and Janesville Parker senior Jarod Hilmer said of Mauermann’s suspension.
“We were going to play hard no matter who was behind the bench,” Janesville Craig senior forward Tommy Tralmer said. “It was business as usual.”
The Bluebirds’ on-ice personality is reflected in the current 12-game unbeaten streak. Physical play has been replaced by finesse. One of the biggest teams on the ice in recent years, the Bluebirds are now one of the fastest.
“That’s the biggest reason why we’re having a lot of success this season,” Craig senior forward Kenny Durfee said of the team’s speed. “We’re always flying around the ice, and trying to make it hard for the other team to stay with us.”
Janesville has scored 57 goals, led by 11 goals each from Parker junior Ross Mauermann and Parker sophomore Aaron Jacobson. Tralmer is right behind with 10 goals, and Craig junior Zach Bayreuther has scored nine.
The depth has helped to keep legs fresh, as coach Mauermann doesn’t have to rely on one line to do all the scoring.
David Jacobson is quickly becoming one of the state’s top goalies. The Parker junior has started in net all 12 games, and before last Saturday’s 3-3 tie with Middleton, had not allowed more than two goals in any game. Jacobson’s goals against average is 1.17, and he has stopped 228 shots of the 242 shots he has faced.
Ross Mauermann said chemistry and experience have been keys to the team’s success.
“The juniors on the team have been playing together for a long time,” Ross said. “And the seniors have the experience from playing on varsity before.
“Right now, we’re just taking it one game at a time, while trying to have fun and enjoy playing. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
The 2004-05 Bluebirds put Janesville hockey on the map, thanks to a berth in the WIAA state semifinals. The 2007-08 team hopes to take it one step further.