Traverse City ends Jets' season
In their first-ever home playoff game, the Jets were swept from the first round of the North American Hockey League postseason by a 2-0 shutout at the hands of Traverse City (Mich.) at the Janesville Ice Skating Center on Friday night.
Janesville scored just one goal in three games in the best-of-5 series.
“It takes a lot,” forward Ross Mauermann said when asked what he learned about the playoffs in the Jets’ first go-around.
“All the little things that you get away with in the regular season come back to bite you.”
But while he reflected on the end of the season, Mauermann—a Janesville Parker High School graduate who said he plans on being back with the Jets next season—also reflected on the excitement of Janesville’s first NAHL season.
“It was a lot of fun all year,” Mauermann said. “(The fans) came out and just supported us well.
“It was just an amazing experience, from playing high school here and then taking the next step up to juniors this year, I couldn’t have dreamt of anything better.”
Following the game, the crowd of 720 saluted the Jets with a “J-E-T-S” chant, and the players raised their sticks to acknowledge the support.
“It’s been great,” Jets coach Dane Litke said. “It’s been good all year. It’s disappointing to go out this way, but the fan support has been great.”
Unlike in the first two games of the series, the Jets generated ample offense on Friday, outshooting the North Stars 27-18. They simply couldn’t get the puck past Traverse City goalie Drew Strandberg, whose 27 saves included several from point-blank range.
“It’s not like we didn’t have chances,” Litke said. “It’d be different if we didn’t get chances. If we could’ve broke through (for one goal), I think we would’ve got more, but it just didn’t happen that way.”
After Dan Radke scored a power-play goal just under six minutes into the game to give the North Stars a 1-0 lead, Janesville goalie Matt Wichorek (17 saves) didn’t allow a goal the rest of the way.
Litke called a timeout and pulled Wichorek with 1:40 seconds left, but Kellin Ainsworth picked off a pass at center ice and deposited it into the empty net with 48 seconds remaining to finish off the Jets.
“If you’re a competitor and you’re a competitive person, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth,” Litke said. “Hopefully, the young guys learned a lot, and and we can carry that over and bring it to the new guys that are coming in for next year.”
TRAVERSE CITY 2, JETS 0
Traverse City 1 0 1—2
Janesville 0 0 0—0
TC—Dan Radke (Garrett Thompson, Doug Clifford), pp, 5:55.
TC—Kellin Ainsworth, en, 19:11.
Saves—Drew Strandberg (TC) 27, Matt Wichorek (J) 17.
Penalties—Traverse City 7 for 14 minutes, Janesville 5 for 10 minutes.
Power play—Traverse City 1-2, Janesville 0-4.