Springfield's third-period power play jolts Jets
The third-year expansion team won the Showcase Classic to start the season and has been on a roll since.
That all came to an abrupt end Friday night.
The Springfield Jr. Blues got a third-period power play goal from Mike Williams, then withstood a late Janesville 5-on-3 advantage to earn a 3-2 win at the Janesville Ice Arena.
The game was dubbed Paint the Rink Pink in honor of the late John McPoland, a former Gazette sports writer who died of cancer in 2009.
Janesville, which lost for the first time in regulation this season, played uninspired hockey for most of the game. The Jets finally forced the action in the third period, but they couldn’t get the game-tying goal, despite having a 5-on-3 advantage for two minutes at 15:14 of the third and a 5-4 advantage at 17:14 of the third.
“We’ve been a third-period team all season, but in this league, you’ve got to play hard for 60 minutes,” Janesville coach Dane Litke said. “Sooner or later it was going to come back to bite us.
“Springfield came in here and played well. They got the momentum early, and we never really got it back. Momentum is something you have to work hard for.”
The Jr. Blues scored first on a tip-in off the stick of Josef Pontasch at 7:42 of the first. Janesville tied it five minutes later on John Olen’s deflection off the initial shot from Nick Romanick.
Springfield got the only goal in the second period from Kyle Cook, but Janesville tied it again as Pijus Rulevicius’ stuffed in a shot past goalie Tyler Parks.
Williams got the game-winner just over a minute later as he beat Tony Kujava stick-side with the Jr. Blues on a power play.
Kujava finished with 17 saves but suffered his first loss of the season.
Litke said tonight’s game is pivotal for the Jets as they look to rebound from a the loss.
“We’ve got to come out and play hard from the start,” Litke said. “We can’t wait until the third period all the time.
“When you don’t play well, the first thing you want to do is get back on the ice. We’ll see how the guys respond tomorrow night.”
Tonight’s game also is part of the Paint the Rink Pink weekend. Proceeds from special pink jersey auctions and other activities will benefit the Mercy Regional Cancer Center, where McPoland received treatment.
SPRINGFIELD 3, JANESVILLE 2
Springfield Jr. Blues 1 1 1—3
Janesville Jets 1 0 1—2
S—Josef Pontasch (Chris Sitler, Cody Kohn), 7:42. J—John Olen (Nick Romanick, Jake Horton), 12:09.
S—Kyle Cook (Chris Sitler, Paul Byrne), 10:55.
J—Pijus Rulevicius (Jordan Bancroft), 13:35. S—Mike Williams (Paul Byrne), pp, 14:57.
Saves—Tyler Parks (S) 29, Tony Kujava (J) 17.