Kozyrev, Puricelli lead Jr. Blues to Series Win

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues took two out of three against the Kenai River Brown Bears to move into a tie with the Janesville Jets for 3rd place in the Midwest Division. The Jr. Blues now have a 25-19-3-1 record for 54 points through 48 games played.

Friday was a rough start to the weekend for the Jr. Blues, as the Brown Bears struck first and last to win 4-1. Kenai River opened the scoring early in the 1st period to lead 1-0 before Ben Schmidling scored his team leading 22nd goal of the season to tie the game just under two minutes later. From there it was all Kenai River as they scored twice in the 2nd period and once in the 3rd period to silence the crowd on hand. Despite stopping 21 of 25 shots in the contest, Janis Voris was strapped with his 3rd loss with the Jr. Blues.

But the Jr. Blues would bounce back on Saturday, and in a big way. In front of a packed Nelson Center crowd the good guys struck early and often as they routed the Brown Bears 8-0. Nikita Kozyrev scored a hat trick, Brandon Puricelli had three assists, and Jack Williams denied all 23 shots sent his way for his 4th shutout of the season. Brendan Aird scored his first goal with the Jr. Blues, while Max Brainin, Caden Villegas, Nigel Nelson, and Ben Schmidling each added a tally as well. 

The Jr. Blues looked to avoid a letdown on Sunday, and it didn’t take long for them to show they were ready. Nikita Kozyrev scored twice in the first four minutes of the game, Nick Techel had two goals and an assist, and Janis Voris stopped 21 of 24 in a 9-3 victory. Reed Stark scored his first NAHL goal, while Braden Stewart, Max Brainin, Ben Schmidling, and Aaron Swanson lit the lamp as well. 

Overall on the weekend the Jr. Blues put up impressive numbers highlighted by Kozyrev’s 5 goals and 1 assists, and Puricelli’s 7 assists. But there were plenty of goals and assists to go around as 13 players had multiple points on the weekend, including Brendan Aird, Reed Stark, Braden Stewart, Max Osborne, Jayden Jensen, David Schmidling, Caden Villegas, Aaron Swanson, Max Brainin, Ben Schmidling, and Nick Techel.

Jr. Blues Notes:

  • The loss on Friday paired with the loss to Janesville on 2/16 was the first back-to-back losses suffered by the Jr. Blues since November 23/24 against the Jets.
  • Williams shutout on Saturday was his 4th of the season, and his 3rd shutouts in his last four starts.
  • Nikita Kozyrev’s hat trick on Saturday was the first hat trick of the season for the Jr. Blues.
  • The 8 goals on Saturday set the benchmark for most goals in a game this season, only to be beaten by the 9 goals on Sunday.
  • Brandon Puricelli now has 55 points on the season (21 goals, 34 assists) and is ranked 7th in the league in scoring.
  • The Jr. Blues Alumni Game was held prior to Saturday’s game. Over 40 alumni participated in the game that was won by the Blue Team, 10-8.

Up next:

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs come to town this weekend for a two game series starting at 7:05 pm Friday and 6:05 pm on Saturday. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on our website to stay up to date on all the news and information on the Jr. Blues.