Halladay, Jets carry three-game streak into weekend
JANESVILLE--Joe Dibble blasted his whistle to stop practice.
The Janesville Jets head coach had realized his players were focused too much on a tough record to start their season, what they could do to turn it around and what impact it might have on their hockey futures.
Enough was enough, and it was time to have fun again.
“We just stopped practice and had a 20-minute powwow out on the ice,” Dibble said Thursday, recalling a moment from about two weeks earlier. “Everything was forced instead of relaxing and having fun. So we told stories on the ice, and for 15 or 20 minutes, we just kind of forgot about hockey.
“We had to remember that this is a game of fun.”
Sure enough, the Jets have enjoyed themselves much more over the past two weeks.
They went 3-0 last week and have won four of their last five games heading into a weekend series against the Soo Eagles. The teams face off at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
“For the team as a whole, lately we were gripping our sticks a little bit,” Jets goalie Logan Halladay said. “We just went out and played and had fun. We strung together three games and were consistent as a team.”
The 17-year-old netminder was a catalyst for last weeks results thanks to a dominant week between the pipes.
Halladay started all three games and turned away 103 of the 109 shots he saw to improve his record to 5-3-0-1. He was named the NAHL North’s top player of the week.
“I’m just kind of relaxing and not being overreactive to pucks and plays,” said Halladay, who admits his style was a tad aggressive at a younger age. “I’m just letting the game come to me more.
“It’s good when you can get in a little groove. You start to feel confident and feel good—you’re relaxed. You don’t have to think about little stuff.”
And now the Jets no longer need to worry about who is in net behind them. They believe they’ve got as good a combination of goalies as any team in the league.
Veteran Brock Kautz has manned the post in 15 games this season and carries a 3.26 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Halladay has made 10 appearances and boasts a 2.87 GAA and a .914 percentage.
“Brock was a little fatigued, so we looked at it and said, ‘We feel we have one of the best one-two punches in the league and it’s time we started using it,’” Dibble said. “Logan has come in and battled and worked every day to earn the respect of his teammates and show what he’s capable of and that he can win games for us.”
The Jets’ recent spurt helped them pass Soo in the NAHL North Division standings, and now they’ve got their sights set on moving even higher before the holiday break.
A strong showing against the Eagles this weekend could move them within striking distance of fourth-place Springfield, which comes to town next weekend.
“I think we’re pretty confident right now—not too confident, but we’re in a good spot,” Halladay said. “I think the guys are excited to get on the ice and keep the streak going.”