It was one skate forward and two skates back for the Janesville Bluebirds on Thursday night.
Such can be the case for any hockey team in just its second game of the season.
The city’s boys co-op program rallied from a two-goal deficit early but then gave up two quick goals and allowed three scores on the power play in a 6-4 Big Eight Conference loss to Middleton at the Janesville Ice Arena.
Janesville fell to 1-1 overall and in league play. Middleton is 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Eight, and it clearly looked like a team playing its fifth game against a team playing its second.
“Every time we got some momentum, it seemed like we would either give up a soft goal or take a penalty,” Bluebirds coach John Mauermann said. “We’d either take the momentum from ourselves or they’d take it from us.”
Despite eventually tying the game, Mauermann pointed out his team suffered from a slow start. The Bluebirds were outshot 11-5 in the first period and fell behind 2-0 on the first two of Middleton senior Brian Frusciante’s four goals.
Janesville was able to cut the deficit in half when Craig senior Jackson Lyons slipped a pass from behind the net out front to Craig junior Caiden Kennedy for a goal with just over 15 seconds left before the first intermission.
Just 2 minutes, 41 seconds into the second, the Bluebirds tied the game when Parker senior Cullen Peterson scored off an assist from Craig senior AJ Russotto.
But Middleton answered by regaining the lead 83 seconds later and then going up 4-2 on an easy power play goal at 5:23. Frusciante’s fourth goal came in the final minute of the second period and gave the Cardinals a 5-2 edge.
Parker junior Cayden Erickson cleaned up a rebound on Walker Kulas’ breakaway to pull the Bluebirds back within 5-3 exactly eight minutes into the third .
But again the Cardinals had a response. They scored on a power play just 25 seconds later to get back up by three.
Craig freshman Jake Schaffner scored on a wraparound 37 seconds after that, but the Bluebirds got no closer.
“We got a chance to play with six men out there and created some things,” said Mauermann, who pulled his goalie for an extra attacker with about three minutes left. “We just didn’t find the back of the net.
“All around, there were some good things going on, it’s just that we’ve got to do it for three periods. We didn’t do it Tuesday night (in a season-opening victory) and didn’t do it tonight.
“But it’s early, so you just stay positive.”
The Bluebirds return to the ice next Thursday at Sun Prairie.
MIDDLETON 6, JANESVILLE 4
Middleton 2 3 1—6
Janesville 1 1 2—4
M—Brian Frusciante (Jack Baltes), 7:38. M—Frusciante (Joseph O’Reilly, Thomas Moreau), pp, 14:29. J—Caiden Kennedy (Jackson Lyons), 16:44.
J—Cullen Peterson (AJ Russotto), 2:41. M—Garrett Ballweg, 4:04. M—Frusciante (O’Reilly, Brooks Kalscheur), pp, 5:23. M—Frusciante (Ballweg), 16:29.
J—Cayden Erickson (Walker Kulas), 8:00. M—O’Reilly (Noah Ehrardt, Frusciante), 8:25. J—Jake Schaffner (Erickson), 9:02.
Saves—Noah Hogan (M) 14, Cody Kaas (J) 25.