The first opportunity was there all night for the Janesville Jets on Friday.
Second and third chances, however, were hard to come by as the visiting Minnesota Magicians handed the Jets a 2-1 loss in a North American Hockey League game at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The Jets outshot the Magicians 46-21 but struggled to set up screens and get traffic in front of Minnesota goaltender Isaiah Saville to free up rebounds and deflections.
“We’re getting that first shot on goal,” Jets head coach Gary Shuchuk said. “But we’re not getting that second or third chance. We’re controlling the play, but we need that little bit of extra effort and we need to bury our chances in front of the net.”
The Jets had a dismal first period, registering just five shots on net. The lone blemish of the period was a goal by Minnesota’s Jarrett Lee.
Jets goalie Daniel Lebedeff stopped a shot from the point, but the puck snuck behind him to a circling Lee who tapped in the easy rebound with 8:21 left in the period.
The third and fourth lines went to work for the Jets, landing some big hits and getting quality scoring chances. Chippewa Falls High School graduate Jordan Steinmetz had some potential opportunities in the second period to get the Jets on the board.
“That’s the job of the fourth line is to give those other guys some rest and to bring some energy and get the guys going, and they did that tonight,” Shuchuk said. “We want to play four lines and six defensemen as often as possible, and those guys did their job tonight.”
The two teams went back and forth to start the second period before Davis Kirkendall gave the Magicians a 2-0 lead with less than five minutes left. Kirkendall’s top-corner snipe put a stop to a rush of chances and momentum for the Jets.
Janesville forward Christophe Fillion responded with a picture-perfect deflection of defenseman Benji Eckerle’s wrister just over a minute later to get the Jets back within a goal.
“The puck went to the defense, so I went to the front of the net and just tried to get a piece of it,” Fillion said of his second goal this season. “We need to get more guys in front of the net when we are shooting from the outside.”
Lebedeff finished with 19 saves for the Jets, who will look to get more traffic in front of the Minnesota net tonight when the two teams face off again at 7 p.m.
“We had a good second and third period. When you’re not scoring, you have to simplify your game and just get the puck to the net and follow up with it, so we need to keep focusing on that,” Shuchuk said. “We need to bury our opportunities and get back to the lunch-pail mentality and bring the hard work.”
MINNESOTA 2, JANESVILLE 1
Janesville 0 1 0—1
Minnesota 1 1 0—2
M—Jarrett Lee (Ethan DeStefani), 11:39.
M—Davis Kirkendall (Matt Denman, Andrew Kruse), 15:02. J—Christophe Fillion (Philip Bjorkman, Jakov Novak), 16:16.
Saves—Daniel Lebedeff (J) 19, Isaiah Saville (M) 45.