Jets fall overtime
But Motor City wound up with the only one-goal lead the Jets really wanted.
Two late defensive lapses cost Janesville dearly, as the Metal Jackets scored with 1:08 left in regulation to tie it and again with 32 seconds left in overtime to shock the Jets, 5-4, before a season-high crowd of 935 at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
Not surprisingly, Janesville coach Dane Litke wasn’t happy with his team’s defensive effort.
“We’re leaving the front of the net open, and our (defensemen) aren’t communicating with each other,” said Litke, whose team has lost three in a row after winning seven straight. “We’re not working hard in our ‘D’’ zone. I think our ‘D’ got walked, I know at least two times tonight.
“It’s kind of hurting us right now. We’re gonna have to try and fix it.”
Playing for the first time at home since Dec. 19, the Jets (18-12-3) did manage to pick up a point with the overtime loss but now trail Marquette (Mich.) by a point for second in the NAHL East. The Metal Jackets (14-13-6) trail the Jets by five points in the East. The two teams play again at 7 tonight at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
On Friday, Janesville scored what was almost the game-winner on a quirky goal just 2:39 into the third period.
With the game tied 3-3, Tyler Sorenson played a long pass ahead for Jordan Bancroft. Bancroft attempted to catch up with the puck as it skidded in on Motor City goalie Randy Willis, who backstopped Fond du Lac to the 2007 WIAA boys state hockey title.
Willis appeared indecisive on the play and rushed out to poke-check the puck at the last second. Bancroft and Willis arrived at the puck simultaneously, jarring it free to Wes Wauters, who easily poked it into the open net.
The lead held up all the way until the Jets took a penalty with 3:13 to go. With 1:44 left, Motor City pulled Willis to gain a 6-on-4 advantage, which Janesville killed. But seconds after the penalty ended, Cody Wydo somehow split the defense to the front of the net and jammed a feed from Petrus Sipila past Matt Wichorek (31 saves).
“We can’t play with the lead right now,” Litke said. “We had a lead in St. Louis last Friday, and it took them about a minute to tie it up. And we had four one-goal leads tonight and couldn’t put it away.”
With the game seemingly headed for a shootout, Sipila picked up a loose puck, inexplicably split two defensemen and beat Wichorek high with a wicked wrister to end it.
“I thought we played a little better tonight than we did last weekend,” Litke said. “This is what you’re going to have to do in the second half (of the season) in the (NAHL). You have to play hard every night, and if not, you’re not going to win very many games.”
Beau Burgau and Billy Mulligan each scored first-period goals for the Jets, while Mike Schenfeld had a power-play tally in the second.
MOTOR CITY 5, JANESVILLE 4 (OT)
Motor City 2 1 1 1—5
Janesville 2 1 1 0—4
J—Beau Burgau (Wes Wauters), 17:09; MC—R.J. Kleiman (Cody Wydo), pp, 13:05; J—Billy Mulligan (Chris Volonnino, Larkin Jacobson), 7:10; MC—John Scorcia (Mattias Kiviharju), 3:06.
J—Mike Schenfeld (Wauters, Jordan Bancroft), pp, 9:35; MC—Scorcia (Johnathan Smith, Kleiman), pp, 2:46.
J—Wauters (Bancroft, Tyler Sorenson), 17:21; MC—Wydo (Petrus Sipila, Kleiman), 1:08.
Saves—Randy Willis (MC), 21; Matt Wichorek (J), 31.