After splitting a series with the Topeka Roadrunners last week, the Springfield Jr. Blues returned home to start a weekend series against their geographically-closest rivals, the Janesville Jets. Janesville is coached by Joe Dibble, the previous Jr. Blues coach who stepped in after two other coaches failed and took Springfield to two winning seasons and making the playoffs last year. How would the new Blues handle a team whose coach is well-loved among the Springfield fans? Would Springfield be able to continue its success after two rocky homestands earlier this season against powerhouse NAHL West teams from Alaska?
The Jr. Blues opened up the scoring early in the first period. Nate Chasteen fired in a pass Mike Fazio at 3:24 to get the game going. Teammate Ryan Atkinson scored shortly after at 4:14 to bring the score to 2-0. Hockey tradition states that a 2-goal lead is the toughest lead to hold, and Janesville forward Jason Ford proved it by putting the puck past goalie Matt Leon at 6:43. James McGing took the score to 3-1 Springfield at 9:36. Although Janesville's Austin Vieth received a holding penalty at 15:00, Alex Shuchuk took advantage of a quick rising shot to get a shorthanded goal at 16:51. The first period ended with Springfield in the lead 3-2.
The second period had both teams trading shots but not much else to show for it. Former Jr. Blues defenseman Ruslan Pedan spent time in the penalty box for an abuse of officials misconduct penalty at 5:26. Pedan was very calm and collected on the ice last season, so seeing that was rather unexepected. The lone goal of the period was scored by Janesville's Jordan Himley, tying the game 3-3 at 13:15. A bench minor was assessed on Coach Dibble at 17:36 for Too Many Men on the Ice. The second period ended with both teams wondering who would break the tie. Springfield fans seemed a little on edge as recent games saw the Jr. Blues lose confidence late in the game.
Fans' worries were finally quashed late in the third period as Nate Chasteen took advantage of the Jr. Blues' power play and scored off the post at 15:30. Despite a last-minute pull of the goalie by Janesville, the Jr. Blues were able to fight out of their zone and send James McGing out with the puck. He casually fired from the blue line at 19:46 and sealed the game with an empty-net goal. Springfield wins tonight's game with a score of 5 to 3.
Tomorrow night's game will be at 7:05pm. For those looking for tickets, you can always buy them at the door. Adults are $10, kids under 18, seniors and veterans are $5. There is also a new place to find discounted adult tickets: the four County Market stores in Springfield, Chatham and Sherman are selling adult tickets at $9. Kids tickets can still be found at the door, though. It's general admission, so pick up a discount ticket at County Market and a kids' ticket at the Nelson Center. Tomorrow night is also the Halloween event for the Jr. Blues with a costume contest and a "Trick or Treat with the Jr. Blues" for kids in the Franklin Room at the Nelson Center after the game. Come on down and find a seat while the high school football fans are still stuck outdoors and shivering!