Janesville49.8°

Jets give NAHL commish good show

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KENNETH M. VELOSKEY
November 14, 2009
— Like the game itself, Mark Frankenfeld, the North American Hockey League commissioner, is in motion.

Frankenfeld, a Dallas resident, is on the road big time, and his latest NAHL stop was the Janesville Ice Skating Center on Friday night.


“The travel has peaks and valleys,” said Frankenfeld, who ticked off Fresno, Calif., northern Iowa, Chicago and Dawson Creek, British Columbia, among his most recent stops.


It was a good time for the commish to inspect the progress of the new NAHL franchise. The Skating Center was packed with season-high 823 fans to see the Janesville Jets lose a tough battle to the North Division-leading Traverse City North Stars, 4-3.


The North Stars’ Doug Clifford scored at 4:32 of the third period for the winning margin. With it, Traverse City took a 3-2 edge in the season series.


The Jets fell behind 2-0 early in the first period, but they tied it at 2-2 before the North Stars took a 3-2 lead into the third period. Zach Smoot scored at 1:31 of the third to pull Janesville even at 3-3.


With the loss, the Jets fell to 10-10. Traverse City improved to 13-4.


It was Frankenfeld’s third trip to Janesville, and he likes what he sees, especially with 823 people in the house making noise. The Jets have drawn more than 7,000 fans through 11 dates.


“This is a perfect NAHL town,” Frankenfeld said. “The local ownership is solid, and with hard work the fans will back this team.’’


The commish said hockey, by its non-stop nature, is a natural to hold fans’ attention for an entire game.


“There is always something going on,” Frankenfeld said. “We have to do that to make sure people come here.’’


With tight battles like Friday’s game, it gives the fans plenty to talk about.


Coach Dane Litke said his Jets battled hard, but maybe not as smart as they should.


“We had some bad penalties,” said Litke, whose team collected 55 minutes on 13 penalties. “Guys get tired killing the penalties, and the guys sitting out lose the pace of the game.’’


In the final analysis, Frankenfeld said keeping a junior hockey franchise healthy means keeping the customer satisfied.


“The goal is to service the community with a good product,” Frankenfeld said.


Litke said his Jets gave the packed house a good effort.


“My guys played hard,” he said. “That’s what this is all about. We give (the fans) a good show, and the guys always give a good effort.’’


Hard work pays off.


“According to the scores, we are in the games with (Traverse City),” Litke said. “We have to play well to stay with them, and we’ve done that through five games.”


Janesville will have a rematch with Traverse City at 7 tonight.


TRAVERSE CITY 4, JANESVILLE 3


Traverse City 2 1 1—4


Janesville 0 2 1—3


First Period


TC—Tim Opie (Doug Clifford, Nick Shkreli) 1:01. TC—Nick Shkreli (Tim Opie, Bo Jacobs) 11:23.


Second Period


J—Derek Jacobson (Ross Mauermann, Tyler Sorenson), 2:44. J—Jordan Bancroft (shorthanded) (Billy Mulligan), 6:48. TC—Doug Clifford (powerplay) (Curtis Heinz, Trevor Campbell), 17:15.


Third Period


J—Zack Smoot (powerplay) (Rui Encarnarcao, Mike Thompson), 1:33. TC—Doug Clifford (Trevor Campbell, Tim Opie), 4:32.


Saves—Drew Strandberg (TC) 29. Geoff Sadjadi (J) 22.


Attendance—823.



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