Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues proved that it’s important to stay to the final buzzer at every game this past weekend. Twice the boys came from behind to steal two points away from the Kenai River Brown Bears. As we enter our Christmas break, the Jr. Blues sit comfortably in 2nd place in the Midwest Division with a 20-9-1-1 record for 42 points.
Thursday: SPR 0 – 6 KNR
Our lone Thursday home game of the season never got going in the right direction as Kenai River scored two goals in each period en route to a commanding 6-0 victory. The Jr. Blues battled but the Brown Bears had something extra in their tanks and never let the boys back in the game. Ethan Roberts and Aksel Reid combined to stop 19 of 25 shots as Roberts picked up the loss in the game.
Friday: SPR 4 – 3 KNR SO
Friday proved to be a much different game between the two clubs. Kenai River scored first to break the deadlock five minutes into the 2nd period but Zach Bade picked up his 7th goal of the season just over a minute later and we headed into the 3rd period tied 1-1. The Brown Bears scored twice, quickly, early in the 3rd period and with less than 10 minutes to play we trailed 3-1.
That was when Isaac Novak took control of the game. Novak scored twice in the final eight minutes to rally the Jr. Blues, scoring the game-tying goal with just 90 seconds left in regulation. After a would-be game winning goal from Fisher Scott was disallowed early in the overtime period, we would head to our second shootout of the season.
The first shooters for both teams scored in the shootout period but it was Novak who put the game away with a goal in the 3rd round to give the Jr. Blues a 4-3 victory. Reid stood tall in net for the good guys, stopping 22 of 25 in regulation and overtime and then 2 of 3 in the shootout. Andrew Schultz, Hafen Moe, James Callahan, and Scott all had assists in the game.
Saturday: SPR 3 – 2 KNR OT
We finished up the first half of the season on Saturday by coming from behind once again to send the crowd home happy. Kenai, for the third consecutive game, scored the opening goal of the game, this time in the middle period. They’d add to their lead in the 3rd period to hold a 2-0 advantage with time slipping away for the Jr. Blues.
Jack Boxer, acquired from North Iowa two weeks ago, picked up his first goal with the Jr. Blues to get us on the board and sparked our comeback. Jonathan Panisa picked up his first goal in five games as he scored shorthanded to tie the game up halfway through the 3rd period. Despite several chances by both teams the rest of the way we would head to overtime tied 2-2.
:27 is all that Panisa and the Jr. Blues would need as the Irvine, CA native picked his corner and buried the game winner to give the good guys a 3-2 OT win to finish the weekend series. Reid picked up his 2nd win in as many nights by stopping 27 of 29 while Cole Schneider, Ike Keller, Connor Smith, Jared Kaplowitz, Fisher Scott, and Isaac Novak all grabbed assists.
By The Numbers:
- The Jr. Blues came into the weekend series without any shootout or overtime victories. That all changed on Friday and Saturday respectively as we earned our first extra-frame wins of the season. We are now 1-1 in shootout games and 1-1 in overtime games.
- Isaac Novak has been on fire as of late since joining the team. In 6 games played he has scored 4 goals and added 3 assists and is a +5 overall. Additionally he has taken 23 shots in that time including a season high 7 on Friday night. In 21 combined games between Bismarck and Springfield this season, Novak has 6 goals and 10 assists.
- Jonathan Panisa has been streaky this season. Since recording 3 goals and 6 assists in 4 games while the team was in Alaska in November, he had been kept off the scoreboard since the team returned. Panisa’s two goals on Saturday helped break the pointless drought and increased his season total to 9 goals and 16 assists for 25 points with a +15 rating.
- For the second consecutive weekend the Jr. Blues Power Play failed to score a goal. It’s now been five games since we have capitalized on the man advantage and have seen our league leading PP drop to 25% and now ranks 5th in league. Our PK, which had been middle of the pack heading into North Iowa, has now dropped to 75.7% and now ranks 24th in the league.
We are now off for two full weeks as the boys get to head home to see family, enjoy the Holidays, and rest after a busy first half of the season. We’ve traveled twice to Alaska already which means the second half will be played exclusively in the lower-48 and means we have quite a few home weekends just around the corner. When we return in 2022 we will host the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on January 7th and 8th for our first look at our foes from up North. The Springfield Jr. Blues want to extend a Happy Holidays and a Festive New Years to all of our fans! Be safe out there!