Jets earn one point over opening weekend

Jets veteran Ben Lamer makes his way into Spruce Grove's zone during the third period of the Jets home opener Sept. 19. The Jets were unable to get the one goal they needed to drive the game into overtime. - Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The Jets opened the Capital Junior Hockey League season with a pair of losses Sept. 17 and 19, their only point coming Friday night after losing 5-4 to the Leduc Schwab Riggers in a shoot out. Sunday’s home opener contest against the Spruce Grove Regals ended in a 4-3 loss for the Jets, the Junior B club failing to force the game into overtime as they had in Leduc Friday night.

Head Coach Scott Rodda said he was concerned in some ways with his team’s performance this weekend. “It’s early season so I’m not going to panic, but we need to learn very quickly in the year that we have to play 60 minutes of hockey – and 60 minutes of disciplined hockey,” Rodda said, noting Friday night’s game in Leduc was a good example of that necessity.

The coach said the Jets season-opening outing against Leduc had some strong portions in the first and third periods, but a lack of discipline in the middle frame allowed the Riggers to capitalize on their powerplay chances.

The Jets celebrate their first goal on home ice this season.
The Jets ended the first period Friday night leading the Riggers 3-0, but frittered that lead away during the second period with a rash of penalties that allowed Leduc to score four unanswered powerplay goals. The Jets spent the majority of the final frame trailing by one, but managed to force the game into overtime after tying things up with four minutes left in regulation play. The contest was lost in a shootout, giving the Jets one point for their troubles.

The highs and lows of Friday nights contest was a mixed bag that Rodda felt was repeated during Sunday’s home opener against the Spruce Grove Regals, a team that appeared eager to build on their Friday night victory over the St. Albert Merchants.

“We had some moments where we were executing well during the period skating, and then we had some moments where we became undisciplined,” Rodda said. “All in all I’m not disappointed, but it’s early in the year and we have to correct that.”

Sunday’s home opener saw the Jets trailing Spruce Grove 2-1 at the end of the first frame but evenly matched at 3-3 by the end of the middle frame. However, despite outshooting the Regals, the Jets were unable to respond to a fourth goal scored by the Regals early in the final period.

Although both weekend defeats were by a narrow margin, the back-to-back losses puts the Jets off track from Rodda’s goal of winning at least three out of every four outings this season. But Rodda is confident the Jets are capable of doing so.

The Jets had one of their strongest camps this season and the club’s coaches have whittled the hopefuls down to a core of 23 players. However, there are still some cuts to be made.
Rodda said the Jets will probably maintain current numbers for the next couple of weeks before cutting another three players from the team.

“I’m not going to carry extra guys this year,” he said. “What we’ll do is affiliate guys and call them up. Right now we have two extra forwards and one extra defenceman.”

The Jets play two games this coming week, travelling to Stony Plain to take on the Flyers Friday night and returning home to take on the Edmonton Mustangs (formerly known as the West Edmonton Wild) Sunday afternoon. Game time for the Sept. 26 home game is 2 p.m. at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre.

Prior to Sunday’s home opener, the Jets held their annual tailgate party. From left: Morinville Councillor Joe Gosselin takes a shot on 11-year-old Hunter Deveau during the street hockey game. Pastor Luke Inberg with the Morinville Christian Fellowship helped cook up some burgers and dogs prior to the game.
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