Eager to rebound from a surprising season-opening defeat, the Janesville Jets fell flat again.
Kenai River scored four times in the third period to separate from the Jets for a 7-3 NAHL win Saturday night at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The Brown Bears (2-0-0) outscored the Jets (0-2-0) 12-5 on the first weekend of the season. Janesville did not lose in five meetings against Kenai River last season, outscoring the Brown Bears 23-7.
“We compete, then we let off, then the puck was in the back of our net,” Janesville head coach Gary Shuchuk said. “It gets hard and then guys take a shift off or try to make an easy play.
“It’s stuff we can fix, but it’s disheartening because it happened at home.”
Janesville’s Andrew Hicks scored with 39 seconds left in the second period to tie the game, 3-3.
Kenai River nudged back in front on Jack Conroy’s goal 1:40 into the third period and kept attacking. Michael Spethmann, Porter Schachle and Andy Walker each scored in an eight-minute span to end the Jets’ hopes of salvaging a series split.
“They don’t have more skill than us,” Shuchuk said. “They made Garrett (Nieto) scramble for rebounds and we didn’t do a good job in front.”
Nieto owns an unsightly .833 save percentage through two games. The Union College recruit finished third in the NAHL at .929 last season.
Erik Bargholtz, an Appleton native, had two goals and an assist to lead the Jets’ offense.
Janesville will travel to Blaine, Minnesota, next week to play three games during the NAHL Showcase. The Jets return home Sept. 28 for their first-ever meeting with the Chippewa Steel.
KENAI RIVER 7, JANESVILLE 3
Kenai River 1 2 4—7
Janesville 1 2 0—3
KR—Johan Bok (Connor Scahill, Zach Krajnik), 4:23. J—Erik Bargholtz (Mason Salquist, Vincent Weis), 11:57.
KR—Sutton McDonald (JJ Boucher), 5:06. J—Bargholtz (Matthew Doyle, Andrew Hicks), 11:54. KR—Andy Walker (Thomas Walker, Trevor Schroder), 16:06. J—Hicks (Erik Palmqvist, Bargholtz), 19:21.
KR—Jack Conroy (Justin Daly), 1:40. KR—Michael Spethmann (Boucher, Markuss, Komuls), 4:45. KR—Porter Schachle (Alex Klekotka, Komuls), 7:09. KR—Andy Walker (Komuls, Boucher), 12:07.
Saves—Garrett Nieto (J) 28, Dennis Westergard (KR) 23.