Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues and Fairbanks Ice Dogs met for the final time this regular season in a fast-paced, hard fought three game series. The Jr. Blues broke the Ice Dogs lengthy win streak on Friday night before the road team answered back decisively Saturday and Sunday. After the weekend series the Jr. Blues record now sits at 15-31-2-2 for 34 points and they are in 6th place in the Midwest Division.
On Friday night the Jr. Blues returned home after a four week absence that saw the team visit Topeka (twice), Shreveport, and Janesville. The Springfield community showed up strong as nearly 1000 fans witnessed the Jr. Blues end the Ice Dogs 17-Game winning streak. Fairbanks opened the scoring just before the halfway point of period one, but it would be the only time they’d beat netminder Ryan Wilson all game long.
Cole Schneider, the hero from overtime in Topeka, tied the contest up just four minutes later and the score remained that way until late in the 3rd period. Danila Larionovs picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it past the Ice Dogs netminder to give the Jr. Blues the lead with five minutes left in regulation. Carson Jones would chase down a loose puck in the Ice Dogs zone and bury an empty net goal with just over a minute to play to make it 3-1 and that’s how the game would end.
Ryan Wilson picked up his 11th win of the season as he stopped 49 of 50 shots, including 15 in the 3rd period alone. Jayden Jensen, Jeremy Gabriele, Giovanni Carabelli, Noah Marino, and Michael Spinner all had one assist in the contest.
After news spread of the Jr. Blues upsetting the Midwest Division leaders, the Springfield community one-upped the previous night’s crowd as we hosted our largest attendance this season of over 1,100 fans! The game on the ice, however, proved to be much less exciting than Friday night’s battle. Fairbanks scored in the 1st and 2nd periods to hold a 2-0 lead heading into the final frame, and from there would score five times as the Ice Dogs routed the Jr. Blues 7-0. Wilson took the loss despite stopping 56 of 63 shots.
The lone Sunday game of the season for the Jr. Blues was once again a strong turnout from the community, but saw the Ice Dogs take control early and dominate all afternoon long. Fairbanks opened up the scoring in the 1st period roughly halfway through the frame, and then increased their lead to two early on in the 2nd period. After being outscored 9-0 since Friday, the Jr. Blues were finally able to get on the board just two minutes after Fairbanks scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 on a goal scored by Mason McCormick, his 4th of the season. Fairbanks would respond (twice), and after two periods of play the Ice Dogs were in front 4-1.
Despite no scoring in the 3rd period from either team, the Jr. Blues continued to fight hard until the final buzzer sounded. Alex Proctor got the nod in net on Sunday and stopped a remarkable 72 of 76 shots in the loss. Jeremy Gabriele and Jackson Salt each recorded an assist in the game.
Jr. Blues Notes:
Saving the Day – Alex Proctor and Ryan Wilson combined for 177 saves on 189 shots, which is good enough for a .937 save percentage for the weekend. To put that number in perspective: we looked back at the last several seasons and we could not find another weekend where the Jr. Blues registered that many saves or gave up that many shots.
Startin’ Off 2020 Right – Jeremy Gabriele had four points by the time Christmas rolled around, but since January 1st the defenseman from Scottsdale, AZ has accumulated 1 goal and 8 assists in 17 games. Gabriele has been one of the more reliable players for the Jr. Blues this season as he has appeared in all but one game.
Strong Support – After being gone for nearly a month, the Springfield community showed the Jr. Blues just how strong their support can be. Friday’s game was the leading attendance number of the year…until Saturday came and took that crown. We want to thank the fans for everything that they do and we can’t wait to see you next month!
The Jr. Blues will travel up to Janesville, WI this weekend for a two game series with the division rival Jets. Both Friday and Saturday’s games begin at 7:05 pm and can be seen exclusively on HockeyTV! We will be back in Springfield next on March 13th and 14th.