Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues split this past weekend’s series with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, falling on Friday 4-1 before bouncing back for a 5-2 victory on Saturday. Tyler Borgula, Nikita Nikora, Johnny Mead, and Aksel Reid led the Jr. Blues on the ice and we now sit with a 3-3-0-0 record 6 points through 6 games.
Friday: Jr. Blues 1 – 4 Ice Dogs
The start to the home portion of our 30th Anniversary season didn’t go the way we had drawn it up on the whiteboard. Fairbanks took an early lead in the 1st period and never trailed the rest of the way.
The Jr. Blues went down 2-0 late in the 2nd period, but recently acquired forward Johnny Mead picked up his first goal in the NAHL when he tipped in a shot from the point to cut the lead to 2-1. However, Ice Dogs goaltender Kayden Hargraves refused to allow any more offense for the Jr. Blues and the final score wound up being 4-1.
Aksel Reid got the start in net and saved 19 of 22 shots in the loss. Alex Fendler and Jake Peterson each picked up assists on the goal by Mead.
Saturday: Jr. Blues 5 – 2 Ice Dogs
The boys would show perseverance and determination on Saturday evening by coming out firing and putting the Ice Dogs on their heels. It all started just before the halfway mark of the 1st period when Johnny Mead picked up his 2nd goal in as many games on a nifty toe-drag snap shot that beat Fairbanks netminder Jack Olson to give the Jr. Blues a 1-0 lead.
But that would be just the beginning of the offense as the new kid in town Cole Lonsdale grabbed his first goal in the NAHL by redirecting a centering feed from Tyler Borgula to double our lead to 2-0 just past the eight minute mark of the 2nd period.
The special teams added to the offensive outburst when Nikita Nikora buried a shot past Olson to finish off a beautiful give-and-go play with Brayden Cook while shorthanded. The goal gave us a 3-0 lead late in the 2nd period and that’s how we began the 3rd and final period.
Fairbanks, however, wouldn’t give up; they scored two Power Play goals in the final period to put the pressure on Springfield to finish the full 60 minutes. Rookie forward Tyler Borgula refused to let the Ice Dogs back into the game though, as he scored twice in the 3rd period to help solidify a 5-2 victory to split the weekend series.
Reid got the start in net and stopped 24 of 26 shots to get his 2nd win of the season. Nikora picked up three assists while Lonsdale and Andrew Schultz each had two. Cook, Borgula, and Jagur McClelland all had one assist.
Behind the Shield:
- For the fourth consecutive season the Jr. Blues have split their Home Opening Weekend. Last season we traded shutouts with the Minnesota Magicians (now Wisconsin Windigo), in 2019-20 we swapped one-goal games with the Topeka Pilots, and in 2018-19 we split with the Kenai River Brown Bears.
- National Anthem singer Mark Agnew sang on Opening Night, marking the start of his 27th season singing the anthem at Jr. Blues home games!
- With our win on Saturday night, we claimed our 744th win in franchise history, the most among all current teams. We are 36 wins ahead of the franchise with the 2nd most wins – Fairbanks with 705.
By the Numbers:
- 5 – With Nikita Nikora’s goal on Saturday night, five players have now scored their first junior hockey goal this season! He joins Tyler Borgula, Jake Peterson, Jagur McClelland, and Justin Kingery.
- 7 – Tyler Borgula has 5 goals and 2 assists through 6 games so far this season and is tied for the most points by a rookie in the league. He is tied with Maryland’s Hunter Ramos (5 G, 2 A) and Austin’s James Goffredo (4 G, 3 A).
- 4 – There were four new faces in the Jr. Blues lineup this weekend compared to when we were home during preseason: defenseman Ben Edwards, forward Cole Lonsdale and Johnny Mead, and goaltender Marko Belak.
We stay here in Springfield this weekend as we will host the Kenai River Brown Bears this Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday at the Nelson Center! The game on Friday begins at 7:05 pm, on Saturday at 6:05 pm, and on Sunday at 4:05 pm. Tickets for all three games can be purchased in advance by visiting tickets.jrblues.com or can be purchased at the door the night of the game. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on all the latest Jr. Blues news!