Jake Schaffner spent nearly an entire period of hockey in the penalty box Tuesday night.
The 15-minute wait to break out of the sin bin wound up being worth it for the Janesville Bluebirds’ freshman forward.
Schaffner’s 5-on-3 goal in the third period forced overtime, and his breakaway with just over a minute in the extra session sent the city’s boys co-op hockey team to a 2-1 victory over West Bend at the Janesville Ice Arena.
“We needed it huge,” said Schaffner of the Bluebirds (7-11), who had lost three straight games and five of their last six. “We don’t have the best record right now, and they’re in our sectional, so that really helps us.
“I had probably 10 breakaway (chances) this season, and that was my first goal.”
The breakaway came minutes after the Bluebirds could not take advantage of a five-on-three opportunity.
There was a faceoff in their defensive zone, and Tyler Steuck won the draw back to defenseman AJ Russotto.
“I saw we won the faceoff back to the D, and I just started flying,” Schaffner said. “He (Russotto) executed the pass, so I went down on the breakaway, saw the far side open so figured I’d go there, and it went in.”
It was a rewarding finish to a strong night of hockey for Janesville. Junior Cody Kaas (Craig) posted 35 saves to earn the victory, and the Bluebirds had plenty of chances to win in regulation after coming off a loss last week to Beloit.
“It feels good to compete for three periods and an overtime,” Bluebirds coach John Mauermann said. “We’ve been digging ourselves holes early and given up some bad goals, no matter whose fault it is, a combination of things, and lady luck hasn’t been on our side.
“The fun part of it is we generated some offense by playing a little bit more conservative. We kept things in front of us, and that played to our favor.”
Schaffner, a Craig freshman who leads the Bluebirds with 13 goals and 17 assists, took a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind with just over nine minutes left in the second period.
The Bluebirds killed off that five-minute penalty, but Schaffner still had 10 more minutes to serve in the box due to the infraction that also carries a 10-minute misconduct.
“It was unfortunate, kind of a bang-bang play, but we killed that penalty off, which for a five-minute major is huge,” Mauermann said. “Then it felt like to took forever, but then we finally got him back.”
Schaffner was still in the box when West Bend took the lead off a two-on-one breakaway just more than two minutes into the third period.
The Bluebirds tied the game on a five-on-three power play with just less than six minutes left in regulation. Walker Kulas (Craig) threw a shot from the point toward the net, but it caromed off the back of Steuck in the slot. The puck bounced free to Schaffner, who saw his shot trickle through the legs of Ice Bears goalie Kenny McAughey.
That set up Schaffner’s heroic breakaway goal in overtime.
With five games remaining, the Bluebirds hope Tuesday’s victory is a springboard for the rest of the season.
“We’ve just got to play within ourselves,” Mauermann said. “We’ve just been trying to get better in practices, and some of the things we were working on there, we did them tonight. So that was kind of nice.”
The Bluebirds host Madison West in a Big Eight Conference game at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Janesville Ice Arena.
JANESVILLE 2, WEST BEND 1 (OT)
West Bend 0 0 1 0—1
Janesville 0 0 1 1—2
WB—Maxx Devenport (Harrison Beschta), 2:05. J—Jake Schaffner (Conor Joyce), pp, 11:08.
J—Schaffner (AJ Russotto, Tyler Steuck), 6:56.
Saves—Kenny McAughey (WB) 35, Cody Kaas (J) 36.