The Janesville Jets trailed by three goals after one period and never led for a single second of their home-opening North American Hockey League game Friday night.
They still skated away with a victory and two points.
The Jets recovered from their rough start, scored with less than two minutes remaining to force overtime and then stole two points when Blake Ripley’s goal in the eighth round of a shootout sent them to a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Magicians at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The Jets improved to 5-1, while the Magicians fell to 0-3 heading into tonight’s rematch to close out the series.
“We started out down three, so we knew we had to have a spark,” said Ripley, whose first goal of the season tied the game at 3-3 in the second period. “I think those two power-play goals really gave us an edge and we just battled back from there.”
Janesville spent most of the night playing from behind.
Minnesota scored back-to-back goals in the span of 24 seconds less than five minutes into the game, and it led 3-0 at the first intermission.
“We came back to the locker room and just kind of regrouped,” Ripley said. “Coach laid into us a little bit, but we knew what we had to do come the second and third period. And I think we did it for the most part.”
The Jets got on the board when Jakov Novak’s one-timer from the right circle found the back of the net on the power play less than 90 seconds into the second period. On another power play midway through the period, Novak again threw the puck toward the net, and Erik Palmqvisk deflected it home.
Ripley tied the game at 14:40 of the second when he corralled a loose puck in the slot, turned and flung it at the net.
But the Magicians went back on top midway through the third period when Carter Breitenfeldt scored his second goal of the game.
Needing a late spark, Janesville called timeout with a little over two minutes remaining in regulation and pulled goalie Daniel Lebedeff for an extra attacker. The gamble paid off when Carter Ekberg’s blast tied the game 4-4 to force overtime.
“The whole mood on the bench was pretty calm,” Ripley said. “We just played our game. Our coach was preaching net-front presence, and that last goal was a good example of that.”
After a scoreless five-minute overtime session, the teams each scored on two of their first three attempts in the shootout. Then neither team scored in the next four sudden-death rounds.
Lebedeff made six saves in the shootout, setting up Ripley’s shootout winner. The Waunakee native skated in up the right side, faked one shot, then backhanded the puck into the near side of the net.
“A lot of guys were shooting, and the goalie was kind of biting on that,” Ripley said. “I knew if I faked the shot, he’d kind of bite on it, and then I just dragged it around backhand. Maybe a little bit of luck, too.”
Beloit native TJ Polglaze and fellow assistant captain Alec Semandel each had a pair of assists in the victory.
The teams play again at 7 p.m. today.
JETS 5, MAGICIANS 4 (SO)
Minnesota 3 0 1 0 0—4
Janesville 0 3 1 0 1—5
M—John Keranen (Carter Breitenfeldt), 4:20. M—Brendan Skarda, 4:44. M—Kyler Grundy (Keranen), 16:52.
J—Jakov Novak (Alec Semandel, TJ Polglaze), pp, 1:28. J—Erik Palmqvist (Novak, Semandel), pp, 11:10.. J—Blake Ripley (Jordan Steinmetz, Polglaze), 14:40.
M—Breitenfeldt (Keranen), 10:21. J—Carter Ekberg (Benji Eckerle), ea, 18:23.
Blake Ripley’s goal in the eighth round of the shootout gave Janesville the victory
Saves—George McBey (M) 44, Daniel Lebedeff (J) 29.