Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues begin the second half of the 2021-22 North American Hockey League (NAHL) season by hosting the Midwest Division leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs this weekend at the Nelson Center! The Jr. Blues enter the weekend with a 20-9-1-1 record for 42 points and sole possession of 2nd place in the Midwest Division.
The first half of the season ended the way it needed to – even if it made all of our blood pressure spike. After failing to register any offense in game one against Kenai River, the boys battled and battled to come away with back-to-back come from behind wins to win the series and finish out 2021 with their fifth series victory.
As we transition into 2022 we are led offensively by Leo Bacallao (14 G, 11 A), Jonathan Panisa (9 G, 16 A), and Carson Jones (7 G, 16 A) while Ethan Roberts (14-5-0-1, 2.45 GAA, .924 SV%) has been a reliable force in net all season long. Recent additions Isaac Novak, Aksel Reid, and Jack Boxer all made big impacts since joining the team after Thanksgiving.
Fairbanks has found their footing and are rolling in the last month. They sit in 1st place with a 23-9-0-1 record for 47 points and have been led all year long by forward Alexander Malinowski (16 G, 23 A). In net they’ve seen remarkable play from both of their goaltenders: Kayden Hargaves has a 14-3-0-1 record while Tyler Krivtsov has a 9-5-0-0 record and was recently named the Goaltender of the Month for December.
The Midwest Division is continuing to be a tightly contested race. After Fairbanks and Springfield, Anchorage sits in 3rd (19-11-3-0, 41 pts), Magicians sit in 4th (15-12-3-1, 34 pts), Chippewa is in 5th (16-15-0-1, 33 pts), Wilderness are in 6th (15-17-0-1, 31 pts), Janesville is in 7th (12-17-0-1, 25 pts), and Kenai River is in 8th (7-21-2-1, 17 pts).
Behind the Shield:
- The Jr. Blues and Ice Dogs are no strangers to each other, and we’ve stayed pace with our Alaskan foe in recent seasons. Over the last four seasons the Jr. Blues have an even 11-11 record against the Ice Dogs and this season we are currently 2-2.
- Special Teams are always important – but they’re even more important when the Divisional leader comes to town. The Ice Dogs have the 4th best Power Play in the league (26%) and the 4th best Penalty Kill (87.8%). Meanwhile, the Jr. Blues have the 6th best PP (25%) but the 24th best PK (75.7%).
- We are off to our best start in recorded franchise history. Going back to the 2003-04 season (the earliest season we have game by game records), we have never had 20 or more wins heading into January. We picked up our 20th win this season on December 18th – nearly a month faster than the next quickest season (2005-06 – January 21st)!
- There are only 6 teams in the NAHL who have at least 40 points: Fairbanks (47), New Jersey (45), Maryland (42), Springfield (42), Anchorage (41) and New Mexico (40).
Games this Weekend:
The Jr. Blues and Ice Dogs open up their weekend series tomorrow evening at 7:05 pm with doors opening at 6 pm. We will have our first pregame happy hour of the new year which will run from 6 pm to 7 pm and includes some really good drink specials! Our series concludes on Saturday at 6:05 pm with doors opening at 5. You can grab your tickets in advance by visiting tickets.jrblues.com – save some time (and money) and skip the line on game night!