Janesville Jets prep for wacky weekend road series
JANESVILLE--Seven periods. Six points. Two nights.
The final 10 days of the Janesville Jets’ North American Hockey League season have arrived, and a wild North Division finale starts with a wacky weekend series at Michigan.
An ice resurface machine breakdown earlier in the season forced a suspension of a game between the Jets and Warriors, and they’ll play the third period of that game prior to the start of a regularly scheduled game on Saturday. By the time the dust settles on the weekend, Janesville could find itself sitting anywhere between second and fifth place in the North standings.
“I haven’t even mentioned (the strange situation) with the guys, haven’t even brought it up,” Jets coach Joe Dibble said. “It’s 20 minutes of hockey where you just have to go out and battle and get those two points and worry about the next game.
“It’s tough to tell your guys to go game-by-game when this weekend is as crazy as it is. But they all know that we had to make it up, and we just kind of left it at that.”
The suspended game was tied 2-2 after two periods on Jan. 11. The Jets were informed in the locker room during the second intermission that play would not resume.
Making matters even trickier, Janesville executed a series of trades since that date and has a different-looking roster. Five players listed in the official box score are no longer with the team.
So the Jets must use the players that started that game, but they can fill the holes left by departed players with some of their newcomers.
“Whoever was on the roster that day, however many you have left, you have to play those guys,” Dibble said. “It’s a mess. They have one or two guys. I think we have five or six.”
The odd situation also comes at a time when points are at a premium.
The Jets picked up three of them in a home series with Michigan last weekend. With 58 points, they trail the second-place Warriors by five points. Johnstown is fourth (57), followed by Springfield (55) and Soo (53).
The top four teams in the division make the playoffs when the regular season ends next weekend.
“If we go in there and win all 2 1/3 games this weekend, we’d take over second place,” Dibble said. “But as tight as it is, we could be out of playoff (position) after this weekend. It’s such a tight race, where you just have to go in and get as many points as you can.”