Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues split their weekend series with the Minnesota Magicians, but were able to pick up three out of four possible points. Both games went to a shootout as we saw some exciting NAHL action throughout the weekend. After the results of the weekend went final, we sit in sole possession of 2nd place with a 25-9-1-2 record for 53 points.
Thursday: SPR 4 – 3 MNM (SO)
We began our road trip a day earlier than normal as we traveled up to Richfield, MN on Thursday for our first contest with the Magicians since October. Things began slowly for both teams, but the home team were able to score first and took a 1-0 lead into the 1st Intermission. From there, the Jr. Blues controlled play despite the game finishing in a shootout.
The Jr. Blues bounced back early in the 2nd period as Top Prospects Select Leo Bacallao scored just two minutes into the period on the power play to tie the game up 1-1. He would score his second of the game and 17th of the season just two minutes later to give us our first lead of the game and of the weekend.
Despite a late 2nd period goal to tie the game 2-2, fellow Top Prospects Select Carson Jones would answer for the Jr. Blues in the 3rd period to give us a 3-2 advantage late in the contest. Minnesota, however, would not go away quietly as they tied the game up 3-3 with less than a minute to go in regulation.
As we headed to overtime, the fans in attendance came to life as we looked to extend our winning streak and move into a tie for the top spot in the Midwest Division. Both teams collected several scoring opportunities in the 3-on-3 overtime period, but it would be Isaac Novak scoring the lone goal in the shootout that would seal the 4-3 victory for the Jr. Blues.
Ethan Roberts, making his first start since December, stopped 34 of 37 shots in regulation and overtime and then stopped all three shooters in the shootout. James Callahan, Fisher Scott, Will Magnuson, Noah Marino, and Jones all had assists in the game.
Friday: SPR 2 – 3 MNM (SO)
As we began warmups on Friday night, the Jr. Blues were statistically in 1st place and were looking to finish up the sweep and keep control of the division. Things started out in our favor as Isaac Novak continued to stay hot by striking on the power play seven minutes into the 1st period to make it 1-0.
We would extend our lead to two goals when recently named Top Prospects Select Michael Valdez scored on the power play just about six minutes later to make it 2-0. And while we continued to dominate on the scoresheet throughout the second and third periods, the Magicians battled hard to tied the game up 2-2 late in the 3rd period.
For the second consecutive game overtime proved to be not enough time and we headed to another shootout. Unfortunately, the Magicians were able to find the secret ingredient they hadn’t been able to unlock the night before and won the game 3-2.
Aksel Reid stopped 20 of 22 in regulation and overtime as he picked up just his second loss since joining the team. Hagen Moe, Connor Smith, Brayden Cook, and Jack Boxer all picked up assists in the game.
Fairbanks currently sits atop the division with 54 points despite only winning one game against Kenai River over the weekend. We sit in 2nd with 53 points and will face-off with Fairbanks this weekend here at The Nelson Center. In 3rd place are the Anchorage Wolverines with 46 points, they were swept over the weekend by the Janesville Jets and were unable to gain any ground in the standings. We will see Anchorage here in Springfield for three games next weekend (February 11-13th). In 4th are the Minnesota Wilderness with 43 points after they swept the Chippewa Steel and in 5th place are the Minnesota Magicians with 41 points. In 6th place are the Janesville Jets with 39 pts, in 7th are the Steel with 36 pts, and in 8th are the Brown Bears with 25 pts.
By the Numbers:
- Ethan Roberts improved his record to 15-6-0-1 with a 2.59 GAA, .920 SV%, and 2 shutouts. He had been out of action since the middle of December but was able to shake off the rust in remarkable fashion by stopping several scoring opportunities throughout Thursday’s contest. He is currently T-5th in wins, T-5th in SV%, and T-6th in Shutouts in the league.
- The Jr. Blues now have two 30-point scorers on the team as both Carson Jones (11 goals, 20 assists) and Leo Bacallao (17 goals, 13 assists) were able to eclipse that mark over the weekend. Both players were named Assistant Captains this year and have both been named to the 2022 Top Prospects Tournament.
- Despite the shootout loss on Friday, we have gone 8 consecutive games with at least one point (dating back to December 17th). In that time we have swept both the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the Chippewa Steel and have shrunk the Ice Dogs lead to just one point.
- The back-to-back shootout games are the first such instance for the Jr. Blues since March 28th and 30th in 2018 when we won consecutive shootouts against the Janesville Jets and the Minnesota Magicians. All in all, we’ve had six games with the Magicians head to a shootout since they joined the league and we are 5-1 in those games.
We are back in Springfield for one of the most important weekend matchups of the season as we host the 1st place Fairbanks Ice Dogs for two games this Friday and Saturday at the Nelson Center! Game times are set for 7:05 pm and 6:05 pm respectively with doors opening an hour before puck drop. Tickets are going quickly so make sure to grab yours online at tickets.jrblues.com TODAY – save some time (and money) and skip the line on game night!