Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues continued to gain momentum in the tightly contested Midwest Division by taking 5 of 6 points against the Anchorage Wolverines this past weekend at The Nelson Center. After the series our record now sits at 19-19-1-0 for 39 points and we are 6-3-1-0 in our last 10 games.
Thursday: SPR 3 – 4 ANC (OT)
Our weekend opened up a day earlier than normal with a Thursday evening matchup with the Wolverines – our first look at Anchorage this season. The opening frame provided a lot of back-and-forth action but we remained scoreless heading into the 2nd period.
Anchorage took the lead with an early 2nd period tally but Hadley Hudak would tie the game up 1-1 with his 3rd goal of the season just four minutes later. However, the tie would be short lived as the Wolverines once again took the lead, 2-1, halfway through the period. Cole Lonsdale would then score twice in five minutes – his 12th and 13th goals of the year – as the Jr. Blues gained the lead for the first time and headed to the final period leading 3-2.
Unfortunately, Anchorage would tie the game up 3-3 early in the 3rd period and despite several high grade opportunities we headed to overtime for the second consecutive game. The Wolverines would find the back of the net less than three minutes into the extra frame to claim the 4-3 overtime victory.
Aksel Reid got the start in net and turned aside 40/44 shots. Nikita Nikora had two assists while James Callahan, Andrew Schultz, and Hagen Moe each had one assist.
Friday: SPR 7 – 0 ANC
The boys came into Friday’s game needing to get back into the Win column and gain a much needed two points. The crowd would not be disappointed.
James Callahan got the scoring started on the Power Play five minutes into the 1st period and the Jr. Blues never looked back. Alexander Fendler and Tyler Borgula each added goals and we led 3-0 after 20 minutes of hockey.
In the 2nd period, Andrew Schultz, Nikira Nikora, and Hadley Hudak all found the back of the net as the Jr. Blues scored three goals in one period for the third time in two nights. Heading into the 3rd period the home team held a commanding 6-0 lead over the Wolverines.
Tyler Borgula – in his first game since returning from the USHL – would score the lone goal in the 3rd period on the Power Play late in the game to seal a 7-0 victory. The game marked the first time this season the Jr. Blues have scored 7 goals in one game.
Aksel Reid got the start once again in net and turned aside all 18 shots for his 2nd shutout of the season and his 10th win. Cole Lonsdale had three assists, James Callahan and Hayden Riva both had two assists, and Mac Gadowsky, Brayden Cook, Isaac Keller, Ben Edwards, Grant Ellings, and Hagen Moe each had one assist.
Saturday: SPR 4 – 2 ANC
After the offensive outburst on Friday, the Jr. Blues looked to take the series and climb back to the .500 mark on Saturday night – but the Wolverines wouldn’t make things easy. Anchorage scored halfway through the 1st period to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Hadley Hudak would score two minutes into the 2nd period for his third goal in three games to tie the game up 1-1 and provided a spark for the Jr. Blues. Anchorage would answer, however, with a goal of their own to hold a narrow 2-1 lead as we began the 3rd period.
From there a bit of February magic arrived at The Nelly as the boys would pick up another three goal period to come-from-behind and pick up a very important two points. Tyler Borgula took advantage of a defensive breakdown 4-on-4 to tie the game up 2-2 with 7 minutes to play.
Carter Cloutier grabbed his 2nd goal of the year and 1st GWG of the season on a redirect from just outside the crease to give the Jr. Blues a 3-2 lead moments later sending the crowd into a frenzy. Borgula would pick up an empty net goal with :20 left for his second of the night and fourth of the weekend to complete a 4-2 victory.
Carson Dorfman got the nod in net and stopped 17 of 19 shots to pick up his 9th win of the year. Grant Ellings picked up two more assists while Jake Peterson, Marcus Broberg, James Callahan, Hayden Riva, Nikita Nikora, and Hudak each had one assist.
By the Numbers:
- The Jr. Blues scored 14 goals over the weekend and were led offensively by Tyler Borgula (4 G), Cole Lonsdale (2 G, 3 A), Nikita Nikora (1 G, 4 A), and James Callahan (1 G, 4 A). Overall 9 players had multi-point weekends and 16 players had at least one point.
- The Jr. Blues special teams had another impressive weekend on the ice. Our PK unit allowed just one goal on 14 opportunities while the PP unit scored three times in 10 opportunities. Springfield is the only team in the NAHL with fewer than 100 PP and SH opportunities.
- Head Coach Tyler Rennette picked up two more wins and now has 137 career wins with the Jr. Blues – just one win behind Nick Pollos for the 2nd most wins in franchise history. Tony Curtale holds the record for most wins with 143.
- Tyler Borgula has 16 goals on the season – the 3rd most among rookie scorers in the league. Nikita Nikora’s 23 assists are 3rd most among rookies and T-23rd among all skaters.
- Ben Edwards and Aksel Reid are at the 2023 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Pittsburgh, PA today and tomorrow. Edwards was selected to represent our team on the Midwest squad while Reid was named as an Injury Replacement for the East team.
The boys will head North to Chippewa Falls, WI this weekend for a pair of games against the Chippewa Steel – our second series with them this season and first since October. Friday and Saturday’s games begin at 7 pm CST and can be seen exclusively on HockeyTV!