Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues will depart for Janesville, WI this afternoon for their third series against the Jets in just four weeks. The Jr. Blues currently sport a 22-17-3-1 record for 48 points and have a firm control over the 4th spot in the Midwest Division.
The story is the same as it has been the last two times these clubs faced each other: if the Jr. Blues sweep they take over 3rd place, if the Jets earn a split or a sweep then they remain right where they are. Springfield has had their opportunities to leapfrog Janesville three consecutive weekends, but each time that Janesville has needed to win they have.
And that can be mainly contributed to the play of Sam Metcalf, who has been starting in place of the struggling Cole Brady. Metcalf has won three straight games for the Jets including an overtime victory over the Jr. Blues on February 3rd.
While the Jets have had good play from one of their goaltenders, the Jr. Blues have had both net minders playing at a high level. Jack Williams earned his 2nd shutout of the season last weekend after a 1-0 goalie duel against Ethan Haider. He has 14 wins on the season and has won five of seven since the start of 2019.
Janis Voris joined the team after Christmas and has posted a 5-2-0-0 record with a 2.31 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 8 games played. Both Voris and Williams will be representing the Jr. Blues at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament next week.
But don’t think that this series will rely solely on goaltending, Ben Schmidling and Matt Hanewall might have something to say about that. Schmidling had 6 goals and 1 assist in the four previous games these two teams have played, while Hanewall has scored two overtime game-winning goals in his last three games.
Don’t overlook Nigel Nelson either. The 20 year-old Crystal Lake, IL native has 4 goals and 5 assists on the season, with 3 goals and 2 assists coming in his last five games. While the Springfield offense was largely the Brandon Puricelli Show early in the season, the offense has been spread out over the last month.
Since January 1st the Jr. Blues have scored 41 goals in a stretch that has seen them go 10-3-1-0. Those 41 goals have been scored by 14 different players, including two first goals of the season from Braden Stewart and Ryan Murray.
Catch the action at our viewing party at Cooper’s Alleyside tonight and tomorrow, with both games starting at 7:05 pm CST.