Jets take care of Springfield
And they could conceivably miss the playoffs altogether.
Needless to say, the margin of error has become razor-thin in the NAHL North as the regular season enters its final weekends.
Fortunately for the Jets on Friday, their margin of victory wasn’t thin at all as they kicked off a weekend series with a convincing 4-1 win over Springfield (Ill.) at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
Larkin Jacobson scored two goals, Ross Mauermann tallied his team-leading 25th goal and added an assist and David Jacobson made 26 stops in net for his 25th win of the season.
“It’s gonna be a tough battle to the end,” Mauermann said. “There’s about five teams pushing for four playoff spots. All we can do is worry about us.”
With 10 regular-season games remaining, the Jets solidified their position on Friday by running their record to 31-14-3, currently second in the North with 65 points.
Traverse City (Mich.) and Michigan are tied behind the Jets with 59 points. Motor City (Mich.), which lost to Michigan on Friday, sits in fifth with 57 points. The top four teams in the division make the playoffs.
The Jets remain in striking distance of first-place St. Louis (70 points), but Janesville head coach Dane Litke isn’t concerned with that right now.
“I’m just worried about making the playoffs,” said Litke, whose team hosts Springfield again at 7 tonight. “If you look at our division, every game is huge from now until the end of March. Every weekend’s big. Our division just keeps getting tighter and tighter.
“We just gotta keep getting points, no matter if they’re in overtimes or shootouts, or whatever. We just need points right now.”
The Jets initially struggled just to score goals on Friday, despite firing 17 shots on Springfield goalie Andrew Martin in the first period. But Martin turned them all aside, and the Jets rarely followed up.
“Sometimes when you get a lot of shots, it’s a little deceiving,” Litke said. “Because some of those shots, we didn’t have anybody in front.”
Janesville quickly changed its approach in the second period.
With 16 minutes 28 seconds left in the period, Mauermann beat two defensemen for the puck in the neutral zone and fired a backhanded shot that deflected off Martin. Larkin Jacobson drove the net hard and poked home the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
“Martin’s a good goalie,” Mauermann said. “He’s gonna stop that first shot. You’ve gotta get there and get rebounds and get traffic in front of him, so he can’t see it.”
Larkin Jacobson made it 2-0 just over three minutes later when he deposited a drop pass from Jordan Tredinnick over Martin’s shoulder with a short-side wrist shot.
Springfield (21-23-3) made it 2-1 on a short-handed goal by Kyle Cook, but Mauermann got it right back when he played give-and-go with Will Preston and converted a perfect backdoor pass after a hard drive to the net.
“Guys make livings that way in the NHL,” Litke said. “Once you get some net presence, usually good things happen for you, and that’s what happened in the second period for us.”
Tredinnick added a power-play goal in the third to finish the scoring.
JETS 4, SPRINGFIELD 1
Springfield Blues 0 1 0—1
Janesville Jets 0 3 1—4
J—Larkin Jacobson (Ross Mauermann), 3:35. J—Larkin Jacobson (Jordan Tredinnick), 6:40. S—Kyle Cook, sh, 10:12. J—Mauermann (William Preston), 12:06.
J—Tredinnick (John Olen), pp, 4:19.
Saves—Andrew Martin (S) 28, David Jacobson (J) 26.