Fairbanks, Alaska – The Springfield Jr. Blues, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), wrapped up a two week trip to Alaska by splitting a weekend series with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Jr. Blues currently sit in 1st place in the Midwest Division with a 10-5-0-0 record for 20 points, one of two teams in the league with double digit wins and 20 points.
The weekend didn’t start out as planned for the Jr. Blues. After a scoreless opening period that saw both teams have prime scoring opportunities, it was the Ice Dogs who would score twice in the 2nd period to take a 2-0 lead into the final 20 minutes of play. Coach Rennette must have spoken a few words of encouragement, however, as the Jr. Blues would score three times in the final period to tie the game up.
It started with Cole Schneider scoring his 4th of the season to finally get one past Kayden Hargraves, the netminder for Fairbanks, early in the 3rd period. After Fairbanks responded to make it 3-1, Zach Bade scored with a laser from the tops of the circles to cut it to 3-2. Mason Hoehn would grab his 4th of the year on an odd-man rush to tie the game up late, but the Ice Dogs would find an extra gear and scored with less than a minute to play to win 4-3.
Ethan Roberts stopped 26 of 30 and once again made more than a few highlight reel saves to keep the boys in the game. Assists came from Carson Jones, Hayden Riva, Hagen Moe, Noah Holt, and Fisher Scott.
Saturday would start out and end in a much better result for the Jr. Blues as Leo Bacallao returned to the lineup and netted the first two goals of the game, one early in the 1st and another early in the 2nd. Schneider would pick up his 5th of the season late in the middle frame after a shot towards the net bounced off a skate (or two) and found the back of the net. After 40 minutes of action, the Jr. Blues led 3-1.
Andrew Schultz would score his first junior hockey goal just about a minute into the 3rd period to extend the lead to 4-1, and despite a mad dash from Fairbanks in the final period of play, the Jr. Blues would hold on to defeat the Ice Dogs 4-3.
Roberts picked up the win in net by stopping 30 of 33 shots and he now sits with a 6-4-0-0, 2.67 GAA, and .911 SV%. Assists in Saturday’s contest went to Daniel Juzych, Jared Kaplowitz, Jones, Schultz, and Bacallao.
After the dust settled on the weekend, the Jr. Blues remain in 1st place just one point ahead of Fairbanks. The Wilderness and Magicians are tied for 3rd with 17 points, the Steel sit in 5th with 16 points, and the Wolverines are in 6th with 15 points. The Jets and Brown Bears wrap up the division in 7th and 8th place respectively.
By the Numbers:
- Leo Bacallao picked up three points on Saturday (2 goals, 1 assist) to increase his season totals to 7 goals and 5 assists in 13 games played. He is now 3rd on the team in points, tied for the most goals, and tied for 4th in assists. Bacallao now has 17 goals and 16 assists in his NAHL career which has spanned across parts of three seasons.
- Ethan Roberts proved himself on this trip to Alaska. In 5 starts against Anchorage and Fairbanks, Roberts faced nearly 175 shots and came away with two big wins to help keep the Jr. Blues on top of the division. Now that we’re back in the lower 48, Ethan can get some rest before a two game series with the Wilderness.
- Splitting with Fairbanks has been common in the last few years. Heading into this past weekend we were 11-11 against Fairbanks over the course of the last four seasons, and now you can adjust that to 12-12. Two of the longest tenured teams in the NAHL were bound to have competitive series, right?
- Andrew Schultz scored his first junior hockey goal on Saturday night. He joins Connor Smith, Hagen Moe, Noah Holt, Zach Bade, James Callahan, Michael Valdez, Mac Gadowsky, and Coby Weber as players who have also scored their first junior hockey goal this season with the Jr. Blues.
WE ARE BACK HOME THIS WEEKEND! That’s right – we kick off our four game homestand with a two game series with the Minnesota Wilderness this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game begins at 7:05 pm with doors opening at 6, and Saturday gets underway at 6:05 pm with doors opening at 5. We will have a pre-game happy hour from doors open until 7 pm on Friday and Saturday will be our Halloween Night! Grab your tickets in advance at tickets.jrblues.com and be part of the action!