The Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets notched a sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League play at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The Jets topped the Bears 6-2 Friday and 5-1 Saturday to send the Bears to their sixth straight loss.
The Jets move to 34-10-4-2 and are in second in the Midwest Division, while the Bears fall to 15-34-1-2 and are last in the Midwest.
The Bears play their last three games of this season at the sports complex Thursday, Friday and Saturday against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues. The Thursday game is at 7 p.m., while the Friday and Saturday games are at 7:30 p.m.
Friday’s game featured seven power plays for the Jets and three for the Brown Bears, but special teams did not decide the game.
Janesville had just one power-play goal despite mixing two five-minute majors in its power plays. The Jets also gave up a short-handed tally to make special teams an even slate.
“I thought our kill was good tonight,” Kenai River head coach Josh Petrich said.
Both coaches said the game came down to taking advantage of opportunity.
Janesville head coach Gary Shuchuk said his team didn’t play particularly well but still got the road win.
“We made some nice plays,” Shuchuk said. “We made some nice plays that led to those goals.”
Shuchuk said the sports complex was a fun atmosphere and the Bears came out hard at the start, finishing checks and killing off a five-minute major.
Then the Bears went on the power play with 11:46 left in the first period.
“We killed off that first power play and had a great power play after that,” Petrich said. “We had good chances but didn’t capitalize.
“It was a tale of them capitalizing and we didn’t.”
One of the league’s best at capitalizing is Janesville forward Jakov Novak. Novak and Matt Barbolini would score before the end of the first for a 2-0 lead. Novak had two goals and an assist to increase his league-leading point total to 63 in 46 games.
The Bears stayed in the game by killing a pair of penalties to start the second period, including 1:12 on the five-on-three, then went on the power play with 17:20 left in the second.
Janesville goalie Garrett Nieto made several dramatic saves to keep the score 2-0, including lunging across the net to stop Filip Karlsson with 16:01 left in the second.
“We had good goaltending,” Shuchuk said. “If they get a goal on that power play, it gets them back in the game and gives them momentum.”
After that, all the penalties on the Bears in the second period began to take their toll. Kenai River drew 10 penalties for 60 minutes in the period, while Janesville was at 6 for 23:00.
Matt Hanewall scored to put Janesville up 3-0, and after Kenai River’s Joe Rosa answered, Brenden MacLaren and Jack Vincent scored before the end of the second for a 5-1 game.
The third period saw Michael Spethmann score short-handed for the Bears and Novak lighting the lamp again for Janesville.
Petrich said Gavin Enright played well in making 28 saves for the Bears, while Nieto stopped 19 for Janesville.
While the fans didn’t have a lot of goals to cheer, Petrich said it was nice to see everyone still in the game.
“This was an unbelievable crowd,” he said. “They were fun and active. It was a great environment to be a part of.”
Saturday, the Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and 5-0 lead after the second period.
“We didn’t show up to play in the first period,” Petrich said. “The first goal was lucky. It took an unfortunate bounce. We didn’t respond from there.”
Petrich said the team had several good chances to make it 2-1 before the end of the first, but again could not convert. In the second, Janesville took control by scoring twice on a five-minute major, going 3 for 6 on the power play for the night.
Novak added two more goals to his totals in the game.
“He’s the best player in the league,” Petrich said of Novak. “There’s not a kid in the league that can see him. I see him absolutely elite and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is drafted into the NHL.”
In the third period, Emils Ezitis broke the ice for the Bears, assisted by Gil Garcia and Connor Scahill.
Daniel Lebedeff had 32 saves for the Jets, while Kevin Lake made 39 for the Bears. Petrich said Lake played well and, like Enright the night before, it was unfortunate he gave up so many goals.
Jets 6, Brown Bears 2
Janesville 2 3 1 — 6
Kenai River 0 1 1 — 2
First period — 1. Janesville, Novak (Renlund, Ekberg), 15:46; 2. Janesville, Barbolini (Hanewall, Ommen), 17:16. Penalties — Janesville 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 3 for 27:00.
Second period — 3. Janesville, Hanewall (Barbolini, Ommen), 6:12; 4. Kenai River, Rosa (Garcia, Karlsson), 14:47; 5. Janesville, MacLaren (Novak, Eckerle), pp, 16:28; 6. Janesville, Vincent (Palmqvist, MacLaren), 18:38. Penalties — Janesville 6 for 23:00; Kenai River 10 for 60:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai River, Spethmann (Krajnik, Komuls), sh, 0:31; 8. Janesville, Novak (Hanewall, Ommen), 2:16. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Janesville 10-20-4—34; Kenai River 6-9-6—21.
Goalies — Janesville, Nieto (21 shots, 19 saves); Kenai River, Enright (34 shots, 28 saves).
Power plays — Janesville 1 for 7:00; Kenai River 0 for 3.
Jets 5, Brown Bears 1
Janesville 2 3 0 — 5
Kenai River 0 0 1 — 1
First period — 1. Janesville, Novak (Renlund, Semandel), 3:08; 2. Janesville, Renlund (Polglaze, Vincent), pp, 8:57. Penalties — Janesville 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Janesville, Polglaze (Bjorkman, MacLaren), 1:59; 4. Janesville, Steinmetz (Ekberg, Palmqvist), pp, 18:14; 5. Janesville, Novak (Bjorkman, Polglaze), pp, 18:36. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 25:00.
Third period — 6. Kenai River, Ezitis (Garcia, Scahill), 9:08. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal — Janesville 7-26-11—44; Kenai River 9-9-15—33.
Goalies — Janesville, Lebedeff (33 shots, 32 saves); Kenai River, Lake (44 shots, 39 saves).
Power plays — Janesville 3 for 6, Kenai River 0 for 3.