The Janesville Bluebirds are making up for lost time by playing a packed schedule to complete the regular season.
Fatigue might just be their biggest opponent.
That certainly seemed to be the case Tuesday, when the city’s boys hockey co-op hosted Cedarburg one day after making a long trek to West Bend. They were playing on back-to-back nights for just the third time this season.
Still, the weary Bluebirds ground out a 5-2 win over the visiting Bulldogs at the Janesville Ice Arena, extending their season-best winning streak to four games.
“Some of our team had tired legs, but we just matched intensity tonight,” said Janesville senior Ben Coulter, who scored twice to reach the 20-goal threshold for the second straight season. “We didn’t play that well, but we came out with a win.”
Tyler Edwards added a goal and two assists for the Bluebirds (9-11). Cedarburg fell to 3-18.
“We used a lot of energy last night,” Janesville coach John Mauermann said. “That was a tough game going to West Bend on a Monday.
“We didn’t make too many combinations of pass-pass. It was a pass, turnover and back the other way to try to catch them again.”
The Bluebirds are in the midst of their longest winning streak since the 2016-17 campaign, when they had an eight-game run spill into February.
“When we move the puck and play as a team with a lot of intensity, we play well,” Coulter said.
“We play better as a team toward the end of the season—right before the playoffs.”
Coulter gave Janesville the lead just 14 seconds into the game when he snuck a shot around the right pad of Cedarburg goalie Ben Kowalewski.
After being held without a shot for the first seven minutes, the Bulldogs answered when captain Cade Knoeppel broke away and beat Cody Kaas with 9:48 elapsed.
Edwards poked in a pass from Conor Joyce a few minutes later, and the Bluebirds took a 3-1 lead when Coulter wristed a shot into a wide-open net after Joyce centered a pass from the left corner.
The score was unchanged until almost three and a half minutes had passed in the third period. Kowalewski made a sprawling save to deny Lucas Vogt’s shot, but Jackson Lyons cleaned up the rebound to make it 4-1.
Cooper Iverson scored his third goal of the season with about a minute left, while Knoeppel got a goal back for Cedarburg with less than a second remaining.
The Bluebirds close the regular season with games on back-to-back nights: Thursday at Sun Prairie and Friday against Middleton.
JANESVILLE 5, CEDARBURG 2
Cedarburg 1 0 1—2
Janesville 3 0 2—5
J—Ben Coulter (Tyler Edwards, Brian Elliott), 0:14. C—Cade Knoeppel (Sam Frontier), 9:48. J—Edwards (Conor Joyce), 13:23. J—Coulter (Joyce, Edwards), 15:32.
J—Jackson Lyons (Lucas Vogt, Caiden Kennedy), 3:34. J—Cooper Iverson (Cullen Peterson), 15:58. C—Knoeppel (Justin Benning), 16:59.
Saves—Ben Kowalewski (C) 30, Cody Kaas (J) 10.