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Jets host Soo Eagles in second round of NAHL playoffs

By Eric Schmoldt
April 23, 2015

A memo to the Soo Eagles: In the NAHL North Division finals series that begins Friday night at the Janesville Ice Arena, it might be best not to incur any penalties.

If there's one thing the Janesville Jets showed in their playoff-opening series victory over Michigan, it's that their power play is clicking on all cylinders.

The Jets scored 10 power-play goals in 15 attempts to sweep the three-game series.

“Without the power play, that first series could have been a little different,” Jets head coach Joe Dibble said. “Whether you've seen the film or not, I think anyone is going to look at those numbers (66.6 percent in the playoffs) and say you've got to stay disciplined against Janesville.”

Game 1 between Soo and Janesville is at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Jets also host Game 2 on Saturday night.

The Eagles were perfect in killing penalties in their opening series against Keystone. They stopped all eight chances during their three-game sweep.

But the Jets' power play presents a different challenge. They ranked sixth in the NAHL during the regular season, converting 21.8 percent of their chances.

Three players already have a pair of power-play goals in the playoffs. And the top unit—which consists of Adam Winborg, Zach LaValle, Brandon Schultz, Drew Callin and Alex Smith—scored 37 power-play goals during the regular season.

“You see teams change a lot throughout the season, their power-play units will change if they aren't having success,” Dibble said. “Our first power-play unit, the box-and-one, has been the same unit since day one.

“We've changed a few pieces, but if you have that many consecutive runs together, you just tend to know where each other is.”

The Jets will rely on that cohesiveness against a team they know well. Janesville is 10-1-1 against Soo this season.

Dibble is expecting a fierce battle between two teams that have become rivals since Soo kept Janesville out of the playoffs in Dibble's first season two years ago.

“We only have one guy left from that team (Dan Kucerovy), but that ride home from Soo that year was pretty tough,” Dibble said. “We had to go in there and get two points and we only got one.

“Now we've seen them so many times this year … where it felt like we were seeing them every three weeks.”

Now they'll spend two more weeks together.

And for what it's worth, the Jets went 21-for-65—32.3 percent—on the power play against the Eagles this year.

Jurusik, Fossier earn rookie honors

Janesville goalie Matt Jurusik was named to the 2014-15 All-NAHL Rookie First Team on Wednesday.

It's likely the first of several honors for Jurusik, who has won an incomparable 27 straight games between the pipes.

Jets forward Mitch Fossier was named to the second team and joined Jurusik on the North Division's all-rookie squad.

“This is one of the most consistent runs from a goalie that I've ever seen,” Dibble said. “He's out to prove to everybody that, 'I'm the best goalie you're going to find.'

“Mitch has been one of the best character human beings you could ask for on your hockey team.”