I didn't feel like doing two separate game reports. Writing game recaps isn't as fun thanks to the dumbass graphics designers at SBNation. I want to get more people from this site to attend Springfield Jr. Blues games, though, so I guess I'll keep writing them.
Friday night's game was filled with... well, more empty seats than previous weeks. Losing four home games in a row will do that, as will a "very important" high school football game between Doctors, Lawyers, and High-Level State Bureaucrats Semi-Suburban High School and Notre Dame on Washington Street. (Folks in the Springfield area will know which schools I'm describing.)
So, naturally, everyone misses the two best games of the season so far. Port Huron brought in a 9-3-0 record to the Nelson Center to face the 1-7-2 Jr. Blues. Springfield lost four of its games against NAHL West Division teams, and the West tends to have better teams than the other divisions. The other help to Springfield was found in trading, releasing and acquiring new defensemen. Gone are Hunter Wilhoite, Kyle Blondin, veteran Cody Dixon, and Andrew Sprouse. In their places are Terry Leabo, Dylan Rosen and Simon Koscielski. All three bring size to the blue line. Koscielski's a tank. At 6'1", 220 pounds he can switch from being a wall to being a wrecking ball once he gets up to speed.
Game 1 was controlled by the Jr. Blues, but it wasn't dominated. Russell Jordan opened the scoring for Springfield at 6:07 of the first period, but was answered by Port Huron's Mitch Maloney at 7:31. The penalties in the first period gave neither side an advantage. The second period saw Springfield scoring leader Brett Skibba score at 5:38 and Mitch Rogge follow it up at 9:39. The second period penalties gave neither side an advantage, either. In the third period the scoring didn't start until the last ten minutes. Brett Skibba fired in his second goal at 10:40. Jr. Blues forward James McGing got a hooking penalty at 11:23 which led to Port Huron scoring on the power play at 11:36 from Kody Polin. The momentum seemed to swing Port Huron's way at 14:17 when Zach Badalamenti brought Port Huron within one point. Springfield coach Tony Zasowski called the team's time out here and calmed the boys down and reset them for the remaining five minutes of the game. At around 18:00, the Fighting Falcons pulled their goaltender and swarmed the Jr. Blues' zone with six skaters. This didn't help as Skibba broke away and found the back of the empty net at 19:27 to put the Jr. Blues up 5-3. 5-3 was the score at the end of the game and Springfield had its first home win of the season.
Game 2 was actually pretty similar, except that this time the boys were ready for Port Huron's offense. Brett Skibba opened the scoring at 10:29 and Port Huron's Brett D'Andrea answered at 12:17. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of Game 1. The second period saw no scoring, but a twenty-minute battle for the puck made up for the lack of scoring. The third period brought more scoring as Skibba scored again at 0:41, missing a power play marker by 30 seconds. Port Huron got a power play goal, though, at 6:33 from Nicholas Sierra thanks to an interference penalty at 6:19 by Simon Koscielski. This wasn't enough to take the momentum from Springfield as they knew what was coming from Port Huron: cheap shots. Newcomer Terry Leabo fired a shot off the blue line to give the Jr. Blues the lead at 12:58 and the lead held until 19:35 when Mike Fazio found another empty net for for the final goal of the game. Springfield won 4-2 and swept the series.
I hope the sweep gives the boys some confidence. They'll need it as the Jr. Blues travel west to Topeka, Kansas to face the Topeka Roadrunners. Now that the St. Louis Bandits are gone, the rivalry with this team comes to the fore again. Topeka's a dangerous team as their 9-1-2 record shows from atop the South Division. Goalie Spencer Viele will be his usual crafty and dangerous self, I'm sure. (Why Springfield didn't snatch him up in the St. Louis dispersal draft, I don't know. He's got family here.)
The next home series for Springfield will be October 26 & 27 against the Janesville Jets, coached by former Jr. Blues head coach Joe Dibble. The puck drops at 7:05pm, but get in at 6:45 to beat the rush. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, kids under 18, and veterans. Come on into town and see some live hockey at a low price!