Jets win season opener
JANESVILLE The firsts just kept coming for the Janesville Jets in their first regular-season contest.
First there was the first-year NAHL team’s first 2-0 lead. After the team notched its first blown lead, the Jets’ first timeout spent led to their first comeback victory, a 4-3 nailbiter over Traverse City before 675 fans.
The Jets built a 2-0 lead after a scoreless first period, only to allow three unanswered goals. The last two in just 68 seconds midway through the second period, before coach Dane Litke called for time.
“After we took our two-goal lead, it was par for the course—our guys relaxed a little bit,” Litke said. “We were moving our feet and playing really well for the first 30 minutes, but after that you saw what happens when we don’t move our feet—it isn’t pretty to watch.
“After the timeout, we regrouped and started playing the way we did the first half of the game,” Ross Mauermann said.
Forty seconds after the breather, the former Janesville Bluebirds star Mauermann triggered the game-tying goal after Tyler Sorenson pinched a North Star along the left boards at the blue line. Mauermann scooped up the unattended puck and fed Ethan Nauman who, seeing no numbers, spun and fed Mike Thompson. The blueliner felt the puck stand on edge and wristed it over goalie Drew Strandberg’s right shoulder.
The decisive goal came with 6:51 left as Rui Encarnacao played a nice touch pass from left to right along the blue line to Larkin Jacobson, whose smothered shot trickled through to a crashing Encarnacao, who went top shelf left.
“It was a lucky bounce, and I just buried it,” Encarnacao said.
Jordan Bancroft scored the first goal in Jets history just 3:47 into the second as he followed Gene Constantine’s shot and put one on Strandberg himself before collecting his own rebound and plugging it home with the back of his blade. A wrister from the right face-off circle by Cam Servson off a no-look feed from Sorenson made the lead 2-0 less than four minutes after the ice-breaking tally.
Then the Jets’ skates slowed as Garrett Thompson halved the lead by stealing a puck behind the Jets’ net and banking it off netminder and top pick Matt Wichorek’s leg pad.
Midway through the third, the Jets’ failure to clear the puck led to two traffic-heavy goals against which Wichorek was helpless.
“He made some amazing saves in the first and he kept us in it,” Mauermann said.
“Biggest part of the team, he played the biggest role tonight,” Thompson added.
Let’s not forget the first fight, complete with a first blood-drawing right cross thrown by Thompson against Sean Keane.
What Thompson remembers most was the near-capacity crowd of 675 fans after his game-tying goal.
“My favorite part was just hearing the fans,” Thompson said. “The fans just electrified the team.”
JANESVILLE 4, TRAVERSE CITY 3
Traverse City 0 1 2--3
Janesville 0 2 2--4
J—Jordan Bancroft (Gene Constantine), 3:47. J— Cam Serverson (Tyler Sorenson), 7:22. TC—Garrett Thompson.
TC—Sean Burke (Chris Salomone, Sean Keane), 8:15. TC—Andy Huff (Cody Walsh, Phil Wendecker), 9:05. J—Mike Thompson (Ethan Nauman, oss Mauermann), 10:01. J— Rui Encarnancao (Larkin Jacobson), 13:09.
Saves—Drew Strandberg (TC) 20, Matt Wichorek (J) 24.
Attendance – 675.