The Janesville Bluebirds shook off a slow start Saturday night in Beloit, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to capture a 3-2 victory over Beloit Memorial at the Edwards Ice Arena.
The Bluebirds were silent offensively until the final minute of the second period, when Jake Schaffner beat Beloit goalie Aidan Wright for a goal with 1:17 to play in the second period.
In addition to cutting the Purple Knights’ lead in half, the Bluebirds also saw Wright go down with an ankle injury that would shelve him for the remainder of the game.
“It was a shame to see Aidan go down like that,” Janesville interim head coach Nick English said. “I think he’s one of the best goalies not only in this conference but in the entire state. Our guys really stayed the course. We got a lot of shots in early against him, and we told the guys to crash the rebounds and good things are going to happen. They didn’t get discouraged and they really stuck together.
“This is a heck of a rivalry,” English said. It’s one of the best in the state, and it’s always going to be a battle no matter what. When things got bad tonight, they leaned on each other and it didn’t turn into a one-man show. It was a good win.”
Janesville tied the score on another goal by Schaffner with 12:23 left in the period, and took the lead for good three minutes later on a goal by Lucas Vogt on assists by Jackson Lyons and Caiden Kennedy.
Both goals came against Beloit freshman Jameson Flanagan, who otherwise acquitted himself very nicely in net.
“The guys really have a lot of faith in Jameson,” Beloit coach Kurt Buchs said. “With this being such a young team, they’ve grown up playing with him, and they know what he can do back there. As good as Aidan has been playing, the drop in confidence wasn’t big at all.”
The Janesville defense was strong all evening, allowing just five shots on goal.
“Obviously when you have a one-gaol lead in the third period, we needed to make sure we were taking care of our defensive zone instead of trying to cheat out into the neutral zone,” English said. “Credit to both of our goaltenders, Jaicy Campbell and Cody Kaas. They are both playing tough, and it’s been a really healthy competition between those two. They each came up with some big saves when we needed them to.”
After a scoreless first period, Beloit got goals from Ryan Wirth (on an assists from Connor Evans), and one from Evans, on assists from Sean McCarthy and Cy Potter.
“There also times tonight where it looked like we knew what we were doing offensively” Buchs said. “At other times, I was just glad it wasn’t a beauty contest. We’ve been up and down like a toilet seat with our energy this year, but this is two games in a row where we’ve really brought it. If we can continue to do that, we can have success.”
JANESVILLE 3, BELOIT 2
Janesville 0 1 2—3
Beloit 0 2 0—2
B—Wirth (Evans), 14:00. B—Evans (McCarthy, Potter), 830. J—Schaffner (Kennedy), 13:43.
J—Schaffner (Vogt, Erickson), 2:37; J—Vogt (Lyons, Kennedy), 5:27.
Shots on goal: Janesville 13, Beloit 5.