Morinville – After a dismal opening weekend, the Morinville Jets (2-1-1) redeemed themselves with back to back victories over the Sept. 24 weekend. The club started out Friday night with a 10-1 victory over the (1-3-0) Stony Plain Flyers and added another two points to their tally with an 8-2 victory over the 0-3-0 Edmonton Mustangs Sunday afternoon.
Jets Assistant Coach Allen Fraser said he was pleased with the back-to-back victories. “I’m pretty happy with our offensive play, capitalizing on the power play,” he said. “With only two goals in 15 shots, I think we’re pretty responsible.”
But while the coach is pleased with the four points earned over this past weekend, a tally that allowed the Jets to rise a little higher in the West Division standings, he expressed some concerns that his team is currently leading the league in penalty minutes. At the conclusion of Friday night’s lopsided victory over the Flyers, the Jets had accumulated 67 minutes in the sin bin this season, 17 minutes more than second place penalty leaders the Flyers. Sunday’s game added another 13 minutes of power play advantage for their opponents the Mustangs and another game misconduct for the Jets.
“The first two games, I don’t know if it’s just renewed testosterone,” Fraser said. “Sometimes we don’t evaluate situations very well, and it’s not just this year. Last year we were willing combatants in something we didn’t want to engage in. And that was discipline. We are focusing on the discipline end of things and it is easier to be disciplined when you’re up. When you’re behind because of laziness – lazy penalties – that insidious emotion of getting even or selfishness is always there. So [we’re focusing on] good starts, good attitude, no negativity on the bench and a common message that we can play with anybody on this league five-on-five.”
Fraser said Friday night’s contest against the Flyers was something of a physical affair for the first 20 minutes. “I was actually a little bit concerned about our willingness to take those kinds of penalties and engage in that kind of play,” Fraser said. “We’re really trying to separate ourselves as a disciplined hockey club, so engaging in that, at the same time it’s a fine line to stick up for yourself.”
The Jets racked up a number of penalties Friday night, including three suspensions that left the club a little light on the bench for Sunday’s home game. Fraser said Sunday’s game could have been a similar scenario, but he was pleased that it wasn’t.
By contrast, the Mustangs racked up 33 minutes of penalty time in Sunday’s contest, plus a game misconduct, allowing the Jets plenty of five-on-four and five-on-three opportunities. Half of the Jets 8-goal tally was scored on the power play.
Jets rookie Russell Turner, formerly of the Sturgeon Pembina Midget AA Hinton McDonald All Stars, earned a hat trick with one goal scored in each of the three periods.
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The Jets ended the first period 3-0, added another unanswered goal in the middle frame, and finished the game with another four goals, while allowing only two to get past Jets backstop Rob Carter.
Fraser said this weekend’s effort was a great improvement from last weekend’s opening efforts.
“There’s no real excuse for the start we had and they weren’t happy with the result,” Fraser said, noting that he felt the Spruce Grove Regals (3-0-0) were a team the Jets are likely to but heads with all season. “They’ve really made a lot of strides over there in Spruce Grove. Let’s face it; you’ve got to respect your opponent. They have a good team. I think they’re going to be one of the better teams this year.”
Looking forward to next weekend, Fraser said the Jets will be pushing their goal of winning three out of every four contests this season.
“We do have a rivalry just south of here,” Fraser said of next Friday night’s game against the St. Albert Merchants (2-1-0). “I think it’s a rivalry that we’re ready for. They’ve come along way and made some changes over there. Again, it comes to respecting the opponent. If you realize they want to win, too. It’s a contest. It’s not personal. Like I said, five-on-five, I’ll play with anybody. We can play with anybody. I’m pretty happy with this group.”
The Jets play two games this week, taking on the St. Albert Merchants in St. Albert Friday night at 8 p.m. and battling the 2-0-0 North Edmonton Red Wings on home ice Sunday afternoon. Game time for Sunday’s home ice contest is 2 p.m. at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre.