Springfield, Illinois – The once-in-a-decade snow storm that pummeled Central Illinois last week could not keep the Springfield Jr. Blues and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs from colliding in a Midwest Division Showdown with 1st place on the line. Both teams were able to grab a win on the weekend and once the snow settled the Jr. Blues remained in 2nd place with a 26-10-1-2 record for 55 points.
Friday: SPR 1 – 4 FAI
The series opened up on the wrong foot for the Jr. Blues as Fairbanks were able to grab the first goal of the weekend early in the 1st period on Friday. Hayden Riva scored his 4th of the season and 1st since returning from injury to tie the game 1-1 just past the halfway mark of the opening period. And after 20 minutes of hockey we were all square with the Ice Dogs.
Fairbanks, however, had no intentions of allowing the Jr. Blues to take the momentum back as they scored in all three periods: one in the 1st, one in the 2nd, and two in the 3rd as they never relinquished control of the game and took the series opener 4-1.
Tristan Shewchuk and Andrew Schultz each had an assist on Riva’s goal, while Ethan Roberts picked up the loss in net stopping 22 of 26 shots. It was our first regulation loss of 2022.
Saturday: SPR 2 – 1 FAI
Things didn’t start any better for us on Saturday as the Ice Dogs jumped out in front less than a minute into the game. This time, however, Aksel Reid and the Jr. Blues showed why we have been one of the top teams all season long.
It began in the 2nd period when Cole Dubicki, recently acquired from Kenai River, scored his first goal with the Jr. Blues on a tip-in to tie the game up 1-1 and we headed into the 3rd and final period with unfinished business in front of a packed house at the Nelson Center.
It took just 88 seconds into the 3rd period for Hagen Moe to notch his 16th goal of the season and give us our first lead of the weekend, 2-1. From there, it was the Reid show as he turned aside all 9 shots he faced in the 3rd period and secured the victory with a HUGE save with less than 10 seconds left in regulation.
Reid stopped 25 of 26 shots to get the win while Andrew Schultz, Isaac Novak, Ethan Chesney, and Brayden Cook all registered assists.
By The Numbers:
- Aksel Reid has continued his strong run since joining the Jr. Blues in December. He has a 7-0-1-1 record with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 9 starts and 11 appearances overall. Reid won six straight starts between Dec. 17th and Jan. 22nd and has surrendered three or fewer goals in all except one game.
- Hagen Moe is having a rookie season to remember for the Jr. Blues. He has registered 16 goals and 10 assists on the season and recently committed to Bowling Green University. Since Christmas he has been on a tear, scoring 6 goals and 3 assists in 8 games and now sits with the 5th most points on the team.
- We have now concluded our 8-game regular season series with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and have a 5-3-0 record to show for our efforts. The Jr. Blues outscored the Ice Dogs 29-24 in those eight games while both top ranked power play units were held to just two goals each. It’s the second time in the last five seasons that we have won the regular season series against Fairbanks.
- Ethan Chesney, who was called up from the Peoria Mustangs (NA3HL), picked up his first NAHL point and assist on Moe’s game-winning goal on Saturday. Congratulations, Ethan!
- For the first time in Jr. Blues history we have recorded our 26th win prior to Valentine’s Day as we are currently 8-1-0-1 in our last 10 games. We have the second best win percentage in the league (.705), the second best power play unit (25.8%), and have the third most regulation wins (23).
We remain at home for a three-game series with the Anchorage Wolverines this weekend! Friday’s game starts at 7:05 pm, Saturday begins at 6:05 pm, and Sunday kicks off at 1 pm. Doors open for each game one hour before puck drop and on Friday we will have a pregame Happy Hour with beer special running until 7 pm. Make sure to grab your tickets online at tickets.jrblues.com and be part of the action!