No hockey coach is going to complain about having a team that plays its best in the third period.
But Janesville Jets first-year coach Gary Shuchuk knows his team won’t be able to rely on the art of the comeback forever.
For now, though, no problem.
For the second consecutive Friday home game, the Jets never led in regulation but eventually won in a shootout. Christophe Fillion’s goal in the first round of that shootout stood up to give Janesville a 3-2 victory over visiting Fairbanks on Friday night.
Janesville, in first place and now five points ahead of Fairbanks, is 9-1-0-0 to start the season and has come from behind in six of those nine victories.
“There’s an old saying that championship teams win third periods, but you can be leading a game 3-0 or 4-0 and still win that third period,” Shuchuk said with a chuckle. “It shows the resilience this group has. They don’t play well the first two periods, but they turn it on in the third.
“Eventually your luck is going to run out. And when you’re playing Fairbanks, they’re a team that can do it to you.”
The Ice Dogs grabbed the lead just 85 seconds into the game Thursday.
The teams traded goals in the second, with Jets’ Simon Sagissor back-handing home a pass through the slot less than two minutes in and Fairbanks answering with just over five minutes left.
The Jets dominated the third period, outshooting the Ice Dogs 17-6. And Janesville evened things up at 6:26 when Matt Barbolini swiped at a mid-air rebound off a shot from Beloit native TJ Polglaze and found the back of the net.
“We had them doubled up on shots in one period,” Shuchuk said. “But it’s a shame, because we should be getting that, 20 shots, every period, especially in this rink.”
Each team had a solid scoring chance or two during the 3-on-3 overtime period, but the teams needed a shootout to decide their Friday-night fate.
After Fairbanks’ first attempt went wide of net, Fillion skated in and hammered a top-shelf wrister that sent Ice Dogs goalie Josh Benson’s water bottle flying.
“We do shootouts on Thursdays, and you kind of get a read on how guys act,” Shuchuk said. “Some guys love the competition and being on center stage.”
Gavin Nieto made 34 saves for the Jets to improve to 6-0 this season. He’s allowed just nine goals.
“He wants to prove that he can go to the DI ranks and play college hockey,” Shuchuk said. “He’s doing what he has to do. He’s doing his job.”
Janesville hosts Fairbanks in the series finale at 7 p.m. today.
JANESVILLE 3, FAIRBANKS 2 (SO)
Fairbanks 1 1 0 0 0—2
Janesville 0 1 1 0 1—3
F—Daniel Haider (Mason Vukonich, Jake Willets), 1:25.
J—Simon Sagissor (TJ Polglaze, Christophe Fillion), 1:53. F—Tyler Deweese (Robert Blueger, Trenton Woods), 14:57.
J—Matt Barbolini (Polglaze, Sean Driscoll), 6:26.
Fillion scored in the first round of the shootout, and the Jets won 1-0.
Saves—Benson (F) 37, Nieto (J) 34.