Friday night's 5-3 win for the Jr. Blues was as close as it gets to fire-wagon hockey these days in the NAHL. Saturday night's game was quite different as the Springfield Jr. Blues swept the series with a 3-1 win. Fellow SLGT denizen DanGNR and his daughter came up to watch the game this weekend. Let this be a lesson, folks: if a guy from South County can make the drive up to Springfield for a hockey game, anyone can!
The first period opened up with... no scoring. The biggest highlight of the period was mutual roughing penalties between Springfield's Mike Severson and Janesville's Brett Bauza. Both penalties also earned them 10-minute misconduct penalties. The new fighting rules adopted this year have really ruined a momentum-shifting tactic in junior hockey. Roy Grandov got a slashing penalty for the Jr. Blues at 10:06 and Ruslan Pedan got a slashing penalty at 17:53 for the Jets. Neither team could capitalize on the penalties.
In the second period, penalties didn't matter much either. This time, though, Janesville got the first goal of the game at 6:03. Zach Diamantoni fired the shot right past goalie Ryan Kellenberger's glove. Mutual penalties went out at 11:25 to Bauza for Janesville and Springfield captain Mike Fazio at 11:25. The Jets managed to take the momentum for the rest of the period.
Period 3 showed the Jets' ability to maintain momentum, but a mutual misconduct penalty at 11:29 between Diamantoni and Springfield's Nate Chasteen was triggered by a hooking penalty from the Janesville forward. This time the fighting-reduction rule gave the Jr. Blues a chance to capitalize on a power play. The scuffle was fun to watch as hockey fighting gave way to hockey MMA with either Chasteen or Diamantoni locking the other in a chokehold and not letting go. During play after the scuffle a Janesville player stripped the stick from local Jr. Blues player Trevor Stone. As the stick wheeled end over end through the air, Stone made a perfect one-handed catch to keep it from hitting the ground. I don't know if that impressed anyone or not, but shortly thereafter Brett Skibba scored on the power play at 13:10 and tied the game. Skibba inspired his linemate Mike Fazio to score at 16:30. Janesville pulled their goalie at 18:00 and this allowed Fazio to score again on the empty net at 19:07. With that the Jr. Blues swept their second home series.
Attendance was 654. The Three Stars were as follows: 1. Mike Fazio 2. Ryan Kellenberger 3. Brett Skibba
With Saturday night's goal, Brett Skibba is outpacing the rest of the team in goals, leading with 11. Second place is a three-way tie between Mike Fazio, Nate Chasteen and James McGing. Next week, the Jr. Blues travel out to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to the famed War Memorial Coliseum to play the newly-reestablished Tomahawks. If Jr. Blues goalies Matt Leon and Ryan Kellenberger don't talk like Denis Lemieux the entire weekend, I'll be heartbroken. Also, the Tomahawks wear colors reminiscent of the Blackhawks, so there's a good reason to boo them loudly. The next home stand for the Jr. Blues will be November 9 and 10 against the Soo Eagles, a team entering their inaugural season with the NAHL after a transfer from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Discount tickets are available at the County Market stores in Springfield, Chatham and Sherman for $9 for adults. Tickets at the box office are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, seniors and veterans. Come on in and pack the stands and cheer for the Jr. Blues!