Sam Renlund waited until the playoffs to record his first multi-goal game of the season.
His recent emergence makes one of the NAHL’s highest-scoring teams even more frightening for opponents.
Renlund scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the Janesville Jets pushed the Springfield Jr. Blues to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 win Saturday at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The Jets hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the NAHL first-round playoff series. Game three is scheduled for Friday in Springfield, with game four—if necessary—set for Saturday.
Janesville, of course, will be looking to complete the sweep of its Midwest Division rival.
“We have a 1-0 mentality every game,” Janesville coach Gary Shuchuk said. “We’re not worried about a total of three games. We took care of tonight and we’ll try to go 1-0 on Friday.”
Saturday’s deciding goal came after the Jets won an offensive-zone faceoff. Defenseman Luke LaMaster fired a puck to Benji Eckerle in front of the net. Eckerle redirected the puck to Renlund, who beat an out-of-position Evan Fear with 12 minutes remaining.
Renlund’s second goal of the game—and third of the series—put the Jets ahead three minutes after Springfield tied the game 2-2. Renlund, a Colorado College commit, scored once in each of Janesville’s final three regular-season games and hasn’t slowed in the playoffs.
“I was looking for a backdoor pass from him (Jakov Novak),” Renlund said of his third-period goal. “He passed it up to the defenseman, so I kind of stayed backdoor looking for a rebound. It ended up hitting Benji and coming right to me, so I guessed right.”
Renlund’s first goal gave the Jets a 1-0 lead. Novak poked the puck away from a Springfield player in the neutral zone and started the attack with a pass to Eckerle, who cut towards the net before sliding the puck between his legs to Renlund at the top of the left circle. Renlund’s wrister beat Fear glove-side with just 2:58 elapsed.
“Playing with my linemates is easy,” Renlund said. “They give me the puck in the right spots and it’s easy to put it home when they’re setting me up like that.”
“Friday, he was behind the play and he wasn’t getting the puck,” Shuchuk said of Renlund. “His line created a lot of offense.”
Ian Malcolmson gave the Jets a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal with 9:15 remaining in the second period.
Spencer DenBeste cut Janesville’s lead to one in the second period, and the Jr. Blues tied the game with 15 minutes left.
The Jets averaged 3.1 goals per game during the regular season—ranked ninth in the NAHL—and have scored three goals in each of their first two playoff games.
Janesville can take another step toward the Robertson Cup with a win Friday.
JANESVILLE 3, SPRINGFIELD 2
Springfield 0 1 1—2
Janesville 1 1 1—3
J—Sam Renlund (Benji Eckerle), 4:36.
J—Ian Malcolmson (Kip Hoffmann, Jakov Novak), 8:56. S—Spencer DenBeste (Jordan Muzzillo), 14:59.
Scorers not available.