Verona gets the best of Bluebirds
The Janesville Bluebirds did, but the puck just wouldn’t get into the goal as Austin Schmid and Verona skated away with a 4-1 victory Monday night in a key Big Eight boys hockey game at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
Schmid stopped the puck 40 times to carry the Wildcats to their fifth straight win in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
“Our goalie, Austin Schmid, played unbelievable tonight,” said Verona coach Joel Marshall. “He was our backbone, and he made great saves all night long.”
Verona (13-2-1) stayed atop the Big Eight at 9-0-1 as it handed the Wisconsin Prep Hockey’s No. 10-ranked Bluebirds (11-4, 7-2) their only two conference losses of the season.
“We’ve stolen a lot of games with David Jacobson in net, and that’s what happened tonight for them,” said Janesville coach John Mauermann. “We didn’t get him (Schmid) out of position, and we didn’t get a lot of odd-man rushes, and they came out with a win.”
Janesville came out aggressively on offense to start the game, hitting Schmid with four shots in the first two minutes. However, the Tyler Schmelzer snagged the game’s first goal at 2 minutes, 6 seconds to give Verona the advantage.
“We were doing a really nice job offensively, but they came down, shot the puck and scored,” said Mauermann. “We have several good opportunities. But then ,all of a sudden, we’re down.”
The goal ended David Jacobson’s season-long 112-minute, 11-second shutout streak dating back to the Jan. 27 win over Hartland Arrowhead. The Janesville goalie had 27 saves on the night.
But just 38 seconds Schmelzer’s goal, Verona’s Nick Olson doubled the score when he picked the corner of the net over Jacobson’s shoulder.
“We are a much better team if we score right away,’’ Marshall said. “If we struggle, our momentum isn’t there, but scoring in the first five minutes wakes you up and gives you a boost of confidence.”
That was all the Schmid needed as Janesville’s only goal came from Ross Mauermann on a power play with 17.3 seconds left in the second period to make it 3-1.
Mauermann rang the inside of the crossbar off of a shot from the point, and the puck dropped in for a goal. Logan Lemirande picked up an assist on the feed.
The Bluebirds had plenty of other opportunities in the second and third periods as Verona gave them seven power plays in the final 34 minutes, including a 1:56 stretch of four-on-three in the second.
“When the rebounds were there, they were just blocking them down,” said Janesville’s Zack Bayreuther. “And they got down and blocked a lot of shots.”
The Bluebirds struggled all night to find the second and third opportunities off of the shot.
“They played a collapsing defense and wouldn’t let us get anything after the first shot,” said Janesville’s Derek Mussey. “We just couldn’t put anything in. And when we did get a clean shot, their goalie would stop it.”
On the other side of the special teams, Verona took advantage of two Janesville penalties to further pad its lead. The Wildcats went up 3-0 on an unassisted goal from Joe Fiala with 3:17 left in the second period got and another goal from Olson at 7:34 in the third.
“The guys were up and feeling confident about their game,” said Marshall. “And they were able to weather a pretty good team tonight.”
The Bluebirds finished 1-for-8 on the power play, while holding the Wildcats to 2-for-4.
VERONA 4, JANESVILLE 1
Verona 2 1 1—4
Janesville 0 1 0—1
V—Tyler Schmelzer (unassisted), 2:06. V—Nick Olson (Dan Bartkowiak, David Bartkowiak), 2:44.
V—Joe Fiala (unassisted), 13:43 (pp). J—Ross Mauermann (Logan Lemirande), 16:43 (pp).
V—Nick Olson (Tyler Schmelzer), 7:34 (pp).
Saves—Austin Schmid (V) 40, David Jacobson (J) 27. Penalties—Verona 10 (20 minutes), Janesville 6 (12 minutes).