After the buzzer echoed through the Janesville Ice Arena to end the first period Friday night, Gary Shuchuk challenged his Janesville Jets team.
The Jets had allowed two early goals and trailed by one in a North American Hockey League clash with the Kenai River Brown Bears, who sit in last place in the Midwest Division.
“I didn’t talk about Xs and Os, and we didn’t talk much about game plan,” Shuchuk said of the intermission chat. “I challenged them to compete. If you don’t go out there and compete, it doesn’t matter how good of a team you are or what systems you try to play.
“I just wanted to see 20 minutes of compete.”
The Jets responded with five straight goals to win the game 6-2.
Goalie Gavin Nieto finished with 22 saves, and 13 Jets registered at least one point to keep pace with the first-place Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who won 2-1 at Minot.
“We have a lot of skill on this team, and if you want to score you have to go to the net,” Shuchuk said. “We did that tonight and it resulted in the offense.”
Brenden MacLaren tied the game at two with a second period power-play goal. Sam Renlund found a loose puck to give the Jets the lead shortly after, and Beloit native TJ Polglaze scored to end the second with a 4-2 Janesville lead.
Jakov Novak scored his second goal of the game late in the third period after Carter Ekberg threw a puck on net. And forward Benji Eckerle closed the scoring with a power-play goal with just four seconds to play in the game.
The Jets didn’t get the start they wanted, but the challenge from Shuchuk to compete went a long way toward a win.
“We had to get pucks to the net, and coach said we needed to play with more compete,” captain Kip Hoffmann said. “Once we heard that message from coach we buckled down and we played a much better game after that.”
The Jets resume play against division rival Coulee Region at 7 p.m. today at Janesville Ice Arena.
JANESVILLE 6, KENAI RIVER 2
Kenai River 2 0 0—2
Janesville 1 3 2—6
K—Carter Wade (David Kaplan), 8:45. K—Luke Radetic (Filip Karlsson), 13:38. J—Jakov Novak (Hoffmann, Carter Ekberg), 18:13, pp.
J—Brenden MacLaren (Matthew Doyle, TJ Polglaze), 0:56. J—Sam Renlund (Benji Eckerle, Erik Palmqvist), 2:05. J—Polglaze (Jack Vincent, Jordan Steinmetz), 4:06.
J—Novak (Ekberg), 12:37. J—Eckerle (Logan Ommen, Matt Barbolini), 19:56, pp.
Saves—Gavin Nieto (J) 22, Kevin Lake (KR) 15, Gavin Enright (KR) 14.