Cardinals skate past Janesville Bluebirds
That sums up the Janesville Bluebirds’ performance Tuesday night in a pivotal Big Eight Conference hockey game.
Janesville’s high school boys co-op team was outskated, outhustled and outworked in a 7-2 loss to Middleton at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
Middleton, despite trailing 1-0 after the first minute of play, stormed back behind Brett Skibba’s hat trick to improve to 9-0 in the Big Eight and 10-2-1 overall. Janesville slipped to 8-4-1 on the season, including 5-2-1 in the conference.
The Bluebirds were outscored 13-4 by the Cardinals in two games this season, a fact not lost on Janesville coach John Mauermann.
“They’re a better team than we are right now,” Mauermann said of the Cardinals, who are ranked fourth in the state by Wisconsin Prep Hockey. “Their ‘A’ players are better than our ‘A’ players, and their ‘B’ players are better than our ‘B’ players.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t play with them. because we can. But we’re not tough enough yet to handle a good opponent.
Brad Money got the night off to a good start for the Bluebirds as he blasted in a shot at the 1-minute mark of the opening period. That was the end of any momentum for the Bluebirds, though, as the Cardinals answered quickly.
Adam DeRosa tied the game at 3:48 of the first period, and Erik Hurd’s goal at 9:28 put Middleton up for good. Skibba got the first of his three goals at 12:30 as part of five straight scores for the Cardinals.
Middleton’s speed and experience was the difference. Janesville had no answer for Skibba’s speed. Todd Koritzinsky’s puck-handling or DeRosa’s ability to create open space on the ice.
“Our kids have to start realizing that what you see in practice is not what you’re going to see in a game,” Mauermann said. “Somebody might look good skating around a kid at practice, but that doesn’t normally happen on game night, especially against a team with the ability and experience of Middleton.
“We are what we are, and that is a young team that is still going to have up-and-down nights. Our kids have the potential, but they have to want to get better and be the best high school hockey player they can be. It’s their choice.”
Trailing 5-2 after two periods, Janesville’s only chance to get back in contention was erased when the Cardinals killed off a 5-on-3 Janesville advantage for 1:38. The Bluebirds got one good shot off during the advantage as the Cardinals were able to poke check the puck away several times and send it down the ice.
D.J. Mussey got Janesville’s only other goal on assists from Cody Stettin and Cody Iverson.
Janesville goalie Collin Cropp stopped 20 of 27 shots.
The Bluebirds host Madison West at the Janesville Ice Skating Center on Thursday night.
MIDDLETON 7, JANESVILLE 2
Middleton 3 2 2—7
Janesville 1 1 0—2
J—Brad Money (Mo McCrone), 1:00. M—Adam DeRosa (Todd Koritzinsky), 3:48.
M—Erik Hurd (Sean Murphy), 9:28. M—Brett Skibba, 12:30.
M—Skibba (Brandon Schaller), 6:48. M—Hurd, 8:25. J—D.J. Mussey (Cody
Stettin, Cody Iverson), 9:07.
M—Skibba, sh, 4:19. M—Koritzinsky (DeRosa), 8:54.
Saves—Eric Smith (M) 17, Collin Cropp (J) 20.