Jets win home opener to stay unbeaten
JANESVILLE The Janesville Jets continue to be the early-season story in the North American Hockey League.
Thanks to two first-period power-play goals in Friday night’s home opener, the Jets held off the Springfield Jr. Blues, 5-4.
Janesville opened the season by going 4-0 and winning the Showcase Classic and remains the only unbeaten and untied team in the NAHL with a 5-0 record.
Despite the impressive start to the season, Janesville coach Dane Litke was less than enthused with his team’s play Friday night at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
“Five-on-five, I thought they were the better team tonight,” Litke said of the Blues. “We got leads tonight, and then we tried to give it away. We can’t play like that and expect to keep winning.
“I thought our power play was the difference, especially early on,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of things to work on.”
Janesville raced to an early 2-0 lead on two power play goals. Garrett Cecere, a talented 16-year-old defenseman who has committed to Colorado College for the 2014 season, got it started with a goal off a blast from up top at 10:08 of the first period. Pijus Rule vicius made it 2-0 five minutes later on assists from Cecere and Zach Adams.
The Jets led 2-1 after one period and pushed the lead to 3-1 early in the second as Truman Landowski stuffed in a shot from in front. Springfield tied the game at 3-3 on an even-handed goal and a power-play goal at 16:48 of the second period.
“Springfield’s a good team, and I give them a lot of credit,” Litke said. “They kept coming at us, like I knew they would, and we didn’t respond the best at times. I hope our guys learned a lesson tonight and come prepared to play tomorrow night.”
Janesville’s Connor McBride got the winning goal at 5:49 of the third period on an unassisted goal, and Adam Frank made it
5-3 at 11:07 on an assist from Joey Sanchez.
Tony Kujava, who was one of three NAHL Players of the Week after the Showcase Classic, picked up the win in goal despite struggling at times.
“Kuj let in a couple of soft goals tonight, but he made a couple of big plays when he had to,” Litke said. “Springfield’s got some good players and some good scorers, and they’re going to challenge a lot of goalies. We were lucky to get that win tonight.”
The two-game series will be completed at 7 tonight at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
JETS 5, SPRINGFIELD 4
Springfield 1 2 2—4
Janesville 2 1 2—5
J—Garrett Cecere (Pijus Rulevicius), pp, 10:08. J—Rulevicius (Cecere, Zach Adams), pp, 15:13. S—Ethan Nauman (Alex Bonito, Brett Skibba), 16:43.
J—Truman Landowski (William Preston), 1:53. S—Chris Sitler (Kyle Cook), 11:07. S—Kyle Cook (Josef Pontasch, Shayne McLaughlin), pp, 16:48.
J—Connor McBride, 5:49. J—Adam Frank (Joey Sanchez), 13:18. S—Chris Sitler (Mike Parnell, Brett Skibba), pp, 17:35.
Saves—Connor Girard (S) 27, Tony Kujava (J) 32.