Soldotna, Alaska – The Springfield Jr. Blues stepped into the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in a 1st Place tie with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, and after a three game series with the Kenai River Brown Bears, now have sole possession of the top spot as we head into our Thanksgiving Break! The Jr. Blues boast a 15-8-0-1 record for 31 points, the best start in Jr. Blues history.
Thursday: SPR 2 – 4 KNR
Our first action against the Brown Bears this season occurred on Thursday evening – one of three NAHL contests that night. The Brown Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Connor Smith struck short-handed to get the Jr. Blues on the board. Jonathan Panisa would score a goal of his own in the 3rd period but it wouldn’t be enough as the Brown Bears outlasted the Jr. Blues to steal a 4-2 victory.
Ethan Roberts got the start in net and stopped 41 of 45 shots as he kept the boys in the game with timely saves throughout the contest. Leo Bacallao extended his hot streak by picking up an assist on Panisa’s goal.
Friday: SPR 5 – 3 KNR
The boys rebounded in style on Friday night as they opened the game with three straight goals and never looked back. It started with a 1st period tally by Zach Bade on an odd-man rush, the only offense in the opening frame. Connor Smith would pick up his 2nd goal in as many games eight minutes into the 2nd period and would be followed up less than a minute later by Joey Dosan’s power play tally to make it 3-0.
Kenai would score the next two goals of the game, but Leo Bacallao and Michael Valdez both scored in the 3rd period to seal the victory, 5-3. Roberts picked up his 10th win of the season in net by stopping 25 of 28 shots, while Hayden Riva, Hagen Moe, Tristan Shewchuk, Cole Schneider, Jonathan Panisa, Valdez, and Bacallao all picked up assists.
Saturday: SPR 7 – 4 KNR
We concluded our three game series with the Brown Bears on Saturday by defeating the home team by a commanding 7-4 final. Kenai scored first, but the boys rebounded with six unanswered goals to cement our place on top of the standings. Carson Jones got us started offensively before Michael Valdez, Hagen Moe, Noah Marino, and Will Magnuson extended our lead to 5-1 at the 1st Intermission.
Jones would add a second goal in the middle frame and then Cole Schneider added another goal to make it 7-2 at the time. Kenai would score two goals late in the 3rd period, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Jr. Blues would hold on to the victory.
Roberts picked up his 11th win of the season as he stopped 40 of 44 shots, while Joey Dosan, Connor Smith, Jonathan Panisa, Leo Bacallao, Schneider (x3), Jones (x2), Marino and Moe all added assists.
By The Numbers:
- Ethan Roberts picked up wins 9, 10, and 11 on this Alaska trip as he now has the 2nd most wins in the league, most shots against (572), most minutes played (1102), 10th in Save Percentage (.920), and 12th in Goals Against Average (2.50).
- Leo Bacallao has really hit his stride at this point in the season. He has points in 5 straight games (3 goals, 5 assists) and points in 9 of the last 10 games overall (6 goals, 9 assists). On the season Bacallao has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points and leads the team in scoring.
- Special teams proved to be another crucial factor in this past weekend’s series as the Jr. Blues came away with 3 power play goals and 1 shorthanded tally. The boys PP now sits at 25%, tied for best in the Midwest Division, and our PK sits at 82.7%, 3rd best in the division.
- We head into our Thanksgiving break in 1st place in the Midwest Division – a division that is insanely tight as we approach the halfway mark of the season. Fairbanks is in 2nd (14-8-0-1, 29 pts), Anchorage is in 3rd (13-6-1-0, 27 pts), MN Wilderness are in 4th (13-7-1-0, 27 pts), Chippewa is in 5th (12-11-0-1, 25 pts), and MN Magicians are in 6th (10-8-3-0, 23 pts). Janesville, who is in 7th (8-12-0-1, 17 pts), has been red hot as of late too.
The Jr. Blues are off this week, one of several weekends this year that the boys are able to rest and recover throughout the season. We will be back in action next Friday and Saturday as we host the Janesville Jets right here at the Nelson Center!