Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin – The Springfield Jr. Blues split their weekend series with Chippewa Steel with a heartbreaking overtime loss on Friday, and a 3rd period come from behind victory on Saturday. After 56 regular season games the Jr. Blues sit in 3rd place in the Midwest Division with a 30-21-4-1 record for 65 points.
Friday could not have started out better for the Jr. Blues as Caden Villegas, Nigel Nelson, Nikita Kozyrev, and Max Brainin all scored in the 1st period to lead 4-0 at the intermission. The next five goals of the game, however, would all be from the Steel. Despite leading 4-2 with less than five minutes to play in the 3rd period, Springfield allowed Chippewa to score twice in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime.
From there the Steel capitalized on a missed opportunity by the Jr. Blues and scored just past the halfway mark of the extra frame to win 5-4. Jack Williams made 23 stops in the loss which is his second overtime loss of the season.
Saturday began with trepidation as the Steel outshot the Jr. Blues 13-7 in the opening period. Max Brainin would briefly give the Jr. Blues a 1-0 lead just past the halfway point of the 2nd period, but the Steel would answer to tie the game 1-1 heading into the break. The Steel would then take the lead on a goal 1:26 into the 3rd period and controlled the pace of the game for the next 10 minutes. But Ben Schmidling would answer for the Jr. Blues, and in a big way.
Schmidling would tie the game up 2-2 on the power play just over eight minutes into the 3rd period, and would strike again with less than five minutes to play to give the Jr. Blues the 3-2 edge. Janis Voris would seal the deal the rest of the way to earn his 8th win of the season.
Springfield and Chippewa will face off against each other for the final time this weekend in Springfield, it will be the 7th and 8th consecutive games between the two teams. Friday’s contest starts at 7:05 pm and Saturday’s contest begins at 6:05 pm.
Jr. Blues Notes:
- The loss on Friday was the first loss this season for the Jr. Blues after they were leading heading into the 3rd period. Their record is now 23-0-1-0 when leading after 2 periods.
- Ben Schmidling now has 32 goals this season, which ranks 3rd in the NAHL behind Carson Briere (41) and Logan Jenuwine (54).
- With his 4 assists on the weekend, Brandon Puricelli now has 72 points this season. He sits in 6th in goals (27), 4th in assists (45), and 5th in points (72).
- The Jr. Blues have seen 3 players eclipse the 100 point mark for their NAHL careers this season (Puricelli, Schmidling, Kozyrev), and are poised to accept a 4th player to that club: Max Brainin. Currently, Brainin has 97 career points in 122 games split between the Jr. Blues and the Northeast Generals.
- Nick Techel’s younger brother, Samuel, dressed for both games this past weekend and recorded no points and finished with a +1 rating.
- With the Minnesota Magicians sweep of the Janesville Jets, the Jr. Blues sit comfortably in 3rd place five points behind Minnesota and six points ahead of Janesville.
- The Jr. Blues are 7-2-1-0 in their last 10 games, the 2nd best record in the division in that span (Fairbanks: 8-2-0-0).