Jets lose early lead in tribute game
He would’ve seen a large, enthusiastic crowd, crisp end-to-end hockey, and a couple tic-tac-toe goals with that tape-to-tape-to-tape-to-net sound that’s the sweetest in ice hockey.
This was exactly the kind of community sporting event that would’ve made McPoland proud, even though the Janesville Jets succumbed to the Springfield (Ill.) Blues, 5-3, in a North American Hockey League game at the Janesville Ice Skating Center on Friday night.
The game was the feature of Cancer Awareness Night and was dedicated to McPoland, the longtime Gazette sportswriter who died a week ago today after a 21-month battle with cancer. McPoland’s family was in attendance, and the Jets used the game to raise money for the Mercy Health System Foundation to be designated for use in the Mercy Regional Cancer Center where McPoland was treated.
McPoland’s efforts were instrumental in bringing a NAHL franchise to Janesville.
“Obviously, John gave us a huge lift,” Jets president Bill McCoshen said before Friday’s game. “I think the Jets gave John something to look forward to during a very difficult period in his life, and we’re grateful for that.
“He was real excited about the Jets. That showed in his writing, and that helped build momentum for the team, so we’re grateful for that.”
Unfortunately for the Jets on Friday, they were unable to sustain the momentum they built in a rousing first period.
Outshooting the Blues 16-4 in the first 20 minutes, Janesville (4-6) took a 3-1 lead on consecutive power-play goals, the first when Cam Severson converted a beautiful passing sequence from Ross Mauermann and Gehrett Sargis and the second when Pat Dalbec put home a rebound off Beau Burgau’s blast from the point.
Things shifted, however, when Springfield (5-3-2) had consecutive 5-on-3 power plays within the first three minutes of the second period. The Jets killed the first but were unable to kill the second as Jared Rickord tipped in a shot from the point.
“That started it all,” said a visibly upset Jets coach Dane Litke of the 5-on-3s. “We take a lazy penalty at the end of the first period, and then we take another one.”
With the score tied 3-3 in the third, Springfield goalie C.J. Groh stoned Mauermann and Billy Mulligan on point-blank shots.
Mike Schaber scored his second goal of the night for the Blues to break the tie, beating Jets goalie Geoff Sadjadi from the high slot with just 1 minute 9 seconds left in regulation, and Nick Curry tallied an empty-netter to seal it.
“We didn’t play with any passion, we didn’t play with any aggression and we didn’t play with any emotion (after the first period),” Litke said. “When you do that, you stand around, you’re not going to win.”
The teams face each other again at 7 tonight at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
SPRINGFIELD 5, JANESVILLE 3
Springfield 1 2 2—5
Janesville 3 0 0—3
J—Rui Encarnarcao (Mike Thompson), :27; S—Cody Hotchkin (T.J. Poganski, Brian Prost), 1:46; J—Cam Severson (Ross Mauermann, Gehrett Sargis), pp, 9:38; J—Pat Dalbec (Beau Burgau, Mauermann), pp, 17:22.
S—Jared Rickord (Poganski, Kyle Fort), pp, 2:13; P—Mike Schaber (Nick Curry, Rickord), 15:02.
S—Schaber (Rickord, Curry), 18:51; S—Curry (Rickord, Poganski), en, 19:10.
Saves—C.J. Groh (S) 28, Geoff Sadjadi (J) 23.