Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin – The Springfield Jr. Blues, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), walked into the Chippewa Area Ice Arena needing to collect all four points in order to catch up with the Ice Dogs. And, after 4-3 and 4-1 victories, the Jr. Blues now hold sole possession of 1st place in the Midwest Division!
Friday: Jr. Blues 4 – Chippewa 3
The weekend didn’t get off on the right foot for the Jr. Blues. After back-to-back penalties forced Springfield into a two-man disadvantage, Chippewa opened the scoring and took a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game. Mason Hoehn would get the Jr. Blues on the board in the 2nd period, burying a bouncing puck in the slot past Chippewa netminder Croix Kochendorfer.
After Ethan Benz put the Steel ahead again on a nifty play in the slot, it was the big guy Joey Dosan who answered in the clutch for Springfield by tying the game 2-2 with less than a minute to play in the 2nd period. Ethan Robertson, who picked up the win by stopping 25 of 28 shots, made several remarkable saves in the 2nd to keep the Steel from pulling away.
Carson Jones would give us our first lead of the game short-handed early in the 3rd period on a beautiful pass from Hagen Moe. Despite the momentum gained, Chippewa would tie things up at three when Joe Kelley scored on a scramble in front. But it would be Leo Bacallao, who played for Chippewa last season, who would decide the game. After a faceoff violation penalty by the Steel late in the 3rd, Bacallao outwaited Kochendorfer and buried a backhand shot to give the Jr. Blues a 4-3 victory.
Michael Valdez, Cole Schneider, Fisher Scott, Moe, and Dosan all had assists in the game. Kochendorfer stopped 19 of 23 shots for the Steel in the loss.
Saturday: Jr. Blues 4 – Chippewa 1
Saturday night’s contest was every bit as exciting and hard fought as Friday’s despite the lopsided scoreboard at the end of the game. A scoreless 1st period flew by and it wasn’t until the 17:38 mark of the middle period that the first goal of the game was scored. Jonathan Panisa got back on the scoresheet with a highlight reel goal on the power play to make it 1-0.
It wouldn’t last too long, however, as Chippewa would answer back two minutes later on a late period goal by Ethan Benz in a mad scramble in the crease. From there it would be all Jr. Blues, though, as the good guys scored three unanswered goals beginning with Noah Holt’s second of the season to break the tie. Leo Bacallao would add an insurance tally with five minutes to play and then Mason Hoehn would tap home the empty netter to seal the victory, 4-1.
Ethan Robertson started the contest and stopped all 20 shots he faced before getting injured in the 2nd period. Ethan Roberts stepped in to relieve Robertson and stopped 9 of 10 shots to pick up the victory. Joey Dosan, Daniel Juzych, Fisher Scott, Cole Schneider, and Panisa all collected assists. Kochendorfer stopped 23 of 26 in the loss for the Steel.
By the Numbers:
- Joey Dosan picked up six points this weekend; a goal and an assist on Friday and four assists on Saturday. Dosan now has 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points in 10 games played. He has the most points on the Jr. Blues and has the 3rd most points in the league overall.
- The Ethan’s (Roberts & Robertson) have been phenomenal this season. After this weekend’s games Robertson leads the NAHL in Goals Against Average with a 1.80, while Roberts sits in 3rd with a 1.95. In regards to Save Percentage, Robertson is 2nd in the league with a .940 and Roberts is 9th with a .924.
- Special Teams has been an emphasis for the Jr. Blues so far this season. The Jr. Blues power play currently sits at 39.1%, which is the best in the Midwest Division and 2nd best in the league overall. The penalty kill is currently at 88.9%, also best in the Midwest Division but is 5th best in the league overall.
- The weekend sweep by the Jr. Blues propelled the good guys into 1st place in a highly contested Midwest Division with a 8-2-0-0 record for 16 points. Fairbanks, who were off this weekend, sit in 2nd place with a 7-2-0-1 record for 15 points. All in all six teams in the Division have at least 10 points and five of the eight teams are above .500.
The boys travel up to Alaska this week as they prepare for a weekend series with the Anchorage Wolverines. Games this weekend will be available on HockeyTV and *remember* that the games will be in AKST, so a 7:07 pm start means it gets underway at 10:07 pm here in Springfield.