Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues were able to secure two points from their three game series with the Kenai River Brown Bears this past weekend. With the win on Thursday, and the losses on Friday & Saturday, the Jr. Blues now have a 9-19-2-1 record for 21 points and remain in 5th place in the Midwest Division.
Normally our weekend series begin on Friday, but we started our weekend battle with the Brown Bears on Thursday night instead. A close, hard fought matchup saw both teams score once in each of the first two periods. Aaron Swanson opened the scoring very late in the 1st period on a tip from Max Osborne’s shot from the point. Kenai answered exactly :20 later to send the game into the 1st intermission tied 1-1.
Swanson would pick up his 2nd goal of the game seven minutes into the 2nd period to give the Jr. Blues a brief lead before Kenai would answer again two minutes later to tie the game 2-2. In the 3rd period, Adisen Brueck would give the Jr. Blues their third lead of the game just four minutes into the final frame, but Kenai would answer again to tie the game 3-3 just before the halfway mark of the period. The game would come down to the wire before Hunter Longhi scored on a scramble in front of the Kenai net to give the Jr. Blues a 4-3 lead, and Alex Proctor would slam the door shut the rest of the way to give the home team the win.
While Thursday’s game was closely contested both on the ice and on the scoreboard, Friday’s game would not be the same. Kenai scored late in the 1st period to lead 1-0 and that would remain the score until the 3rd period, when the visitors would score four unanswered goals. Despite Proctor stopping 30/35 during the game, Kenai’s Landon Pavlisin stopped all 48 shots sent his way as the Brown Bears picked up a decisive 5-0 victory.
Looking to rebound from Friday’s contest and steal the series from the 1st place team, the Jr. Blues were focused entering Saturday’s game. Fans wore their best Ugly Christmas Sweaters and brought all the Teddy Bears as we hosted Teddy Bear Toss Night. Kenai would score first and lead 1-0 heading into the 2nd period, but the Jr. Blues would answer back in a big way. Carson Jones scored just past the halfway mark of the 2nd on a wild scramble in front of the Brown Bears net and the teddy bears began flying onto the ice.
Less than one minute later, while staff were still working on getting the teddy bears into a secure and safe location, Daniel Holmkvist found the back of the net to give the Jr. Blues the lead, 2-1. However, by the end of the period, Kenai would score two more times and lead at the break 3-2. The 3rd period fell off the rails for the Jr. Blues as Kenai would score four goals in three minutes to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Osborne would score very late for the Jr. Blues to make it a 7-3 game, but that would be all the offense either team would be able to muster.
Jr. Blues Notes:
Special Teams – All four goals scored by the Jr. Blues on Thursday were on the power play, the first time this season that all goals scored during a win came on special teams. The Jr. Blues through 31 games this season have a 20.2% success rate on the power play which is 12th best in the league. A huge improvement from where the team was early in October where they sat near the bottom of the league.
All the Teddy Bears – The Springfield community showed out on Saturday night as we collected ALL THE TEDDY BEARS after Jones’ goal in the 2nd period. We will be donating the bears to the Boys & Girls Club and to St. John’s. We want to thank everyone for their generosity and for showing just how strong the Springfield community is!
A Tough Goodbye – A staple of the Springfield hockey and figure skating community, Leroy Gibson is retiring from the Park District at the end of this month. Leroy has worked at the rink for 16 years and has been a friend to all those he encountered. We took the time to honor Leroy by having him drop the ceremonial puck before Saturday’s game, and the fans responded by giving him a standing ovation every time they saw him. We will miss you Leroy and we hope to see you at games in the future!
The Jr. Blues will head up north this week as we play two games against the Minnesota Magicians before heading into our Christmas break. Our weekend series begins on Thursday night at 7:05 pm and will wrap up on Friday night at 7:15 pm. Both games will be available to be seen on HockeyTV, and we will be back home on January 3rd and 4th against the Topeka Pilots.