Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues took to the ice in Janesville, WI for our first North American Hockey League (NAHL) regular season game since Spring of 2020, and they didn’t let the moment get away. The boys won back-to-back 4-1 games to sweep the Jets and earn four crucial points to start the 2021-22 season.
On Friday, the Jr. Blues made the afternoon bus ride up to Wisconsin and arrived with energy and focus to open up the campaign on the right foot. Mason Hoehn scored the first goal of the season and his first with the Shield on his chest 7:09 into the opening frame. That’d be the only goal allowed on either side until late in the 3rd period.
Janesville tied up the contest with just over five minutes to play on a deflection by Jets forward Cy Leclerc, but the tie wouldn’t last long. Forward Joey Dosan‘ wicked wrister just over a minute later gave the Jr. Blues the lead back and they wouldn’t relinquish the advantage. Leo Bacallao and Carson Jones would both add empty net goals to seal a strong 4-1 victory. Ethan Roberts stood on his head and stopped 28 of 29 shots to pick up his first win in the NAHL.
Saturday was more of the same from the good guys as they grabbed the lead in the 1st period and never looked back. Cole Schneider, the reigning NA3HL South Division MVP, scored a Power Play (PP) tally in the 1st and added a second goal on a odd-man rush in the 2nd to give the Jr. Blues a two-goal cushion heading into the final period.
Jonathan Panisa, one of five returners from 2019-20, scored just :15 into the 3rd period on the PP to increase the Jr. Blues lead to three as the good guys continued to apply pressure. For the Jets, the lone goal scorer was once again Leclerc, a native of Brentwood, NH, who scored five minutes into the 3rd to break up Roberts’ shutout bid for the second consecutive evening.
It wouldn’t be long until the Jr. Blues responded, however, as Connor Smith scored on an odd-man break short handed to make it 4-1 just past the halfway mark of the period. It was not only Smith’s first goal in the NAHL but it was his first junior hockey goal overall. Roberts picked up win number two by stopping 27 of 28 as he was solid in net throughout the entire weekend. He wrapped up the series with a 2-0 record, 1.00 GAA and a .965 SV%.
By the Numbers:
- 896 – Thats how many days it has been since the Jr. Blues last completed a weekend sweep during the NAHL regular season. It was on March 29 & 30, 2019 against the Chippewa Steel that the Jr. Blues won 7-3 and 5-4 en route to a 2019-20 NAHL Robertson Cup Playoff berth.
- 9 – The number of players who collected their first points with the Jr. Blues this weekend, overall 14 different players registered a point.
- 6 – Smith, Valdez, Bradley, Kaplowitz, Gadowsky, and Scott not only collected their first points with the Jr. Blues, but also collected their first junior hockey points overall.
- 1:39:23 – The amount of time that the Jr. Blues held the lead this weekend. On Friday the Jr. Blues led for 51:45 and on Saturday for 47:38 for a total of 1 hour, 39 minutes, and 23 seconds of total advantage. Or, if you’d prefer, we were tied for just 20:37 in total – we never trailed all weekend!
What’s On Deck:
The Jr. Blues have a quick turnaround this week – we head up to Blaine, MN for the 2021 NAHL Showcase tomorrow morning!
Our schedule for the Showcase unfolds like this:
- Wednesday: 7:30 pm v. Jamestown Rebels (Away)
- Thursday: 1:45 pm v. Odessa Jackalopes (Home)
- Friday: 7:15 pm v. Aberdeen Wings (Away)
- Saturday: 3:45 pm v. Bismarck Bobcats (Home)
All games can be watched LIVE on HockeyTV and our broadcaster will be with the team to call all of the action all week long! Make sure to follow our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up to date throughout the Showcase! And keep in mind – our first home weekend here at The Nelson Center is in just TWO WEEKS as we host the Minnesota Magicians October 1st and 2nd!