Remember all that stuff about the two-game home sweep of the Janesville Jets I talked about earlier and how the Springfield Jr. Blues would do well to remember how they managed that? Yeah, forget that. There's a reason why the Jets are now 14-4-1 and the Springfield Jr. Blues are 8-12-1. The Jets know how to stay focused. That's why they shut the Jr. Blues out 4-0 in the third game of the three-game set, taking two of three wins and making it tougher for the Jr. Blues to get back to the playoffs.
The first period didn't start well, with Janesville's Truman Landowski scoring a top-shelf goal at 0:26. This deflated the Jr. Blues and their hustle showed it. The Springfield players couldn't keep a decent offensive presence together at all. Janesville penalties at 9:17 and 10:11 gave the Jr. Blues a 5 on 3 power play that they couldn't use to tie the score. The period ended with Janesville in control of the puck. This would pretty much be the pattern for the game.
Period 2 was uneventful except for Lawrence Childs' unassisted goal at 16:19 that took the Janesville lead to 2-0. Yes, that was really the highlight of the period. There was little else of note other than a successful penalty kill for each team.
Period 3 allowed the wheels to fall completely off the Jr. Blues team bus. Frustration with the game was obvious as head coach Joe Dibble lost his temper with the officials after a penalty was called at 12:11 on Kevin Walters for cross-checking. Considering that the Janesville player was flat on his stomach on the ice when the check was applied by Walters, I can't understand Dibble's loss of temper. For his trouble, a bench minor was called against the coach at 12:11 as well, served by Josef Pontasch. The resulting 5-on-3 power play for Janesville led to the third goal for the Jets by John Olen. The team had an opportunity to capitalize on a power play thanks to a check from behind penalty by Janesville's Alec McCrea at 16:53, but the penalty was killed as the Jr. Blues went 0 for 4 on their power plays. During the power play, Coach Dibble pulled goalie Connor Girard and put out a sixth attacker. This didn't help at all. John Olen got his stick on the puck and tried to clear it. His stick hit the ice too early and lost most of its power but he still connected with the puck enough to have it dribble slowly into the empty goal for the fourth and final goal of the game. At 19:38, Dominic Valencia got a roughing minor and 10 minute game misconduct for abuse of officials. He was sent off and the Jr. Blues dropped what was frankly three embarrassing periods of hockey. The team looked listless and defenseman Mike Parnell looked out of his element once again. I wish I knew what could fix the team, but I can't offer any advice other than speed up. There was quite a bit of dragging going on.
I hate railing on the team like this. It's not fun. Fun is watching a team work together and win, or at least work together and lose in a closely-played game. I'd take a close, hard-fought loss in overtime over this evening's mess. Paid attendance was 205, so at least there wasn't a huge crowd to witness this mess. The Jr. Blues have two games next weekend against the Topeka Roadrunners and Thanksgiving week off, so hopefully they'll use the time to train and work together like they've done so often this season. Their next home game is December 2 at Nelson Center against the St. Louis Bandits, part of a two-game home-and-home series. Puck drop is at 7pm. Hopefully the Jr. Blues will remember that they can beat the Bandits on their home ice. It will be a grinder of a series as Kelly Chase's Bandits are some of the toughest customers in the league.