Morinville – It was a mixed bag for the Jets (2-2-1) this weekend. The Junior B club trailed behind their opponent in both Friday night’s and Sunday afternoon’s contests, rapidly closing the gap in both games. However, the magic of Friday night’s 6-5 victory over the St. Albert Merchants was not to be repeated Sunday afternoon, when the Jets dropped a 6-5 decision to the visiting North Edmonton Red Wings.
Friday night’s road game saw the Jets outshooting the Merchants 14-9 at the end of the first period but trailing 3-0 on the scoreboard. Second period game play saw Jets backstop Rob Carter allowing another two past his pads before being pulled, replaced by rookie netminder Foster Cote. The Jets bounced back from their five-goal deficit to end the middle frame 5-4 in the Merchant’s favour. The final frame saw the Jets pocket two unanswered goals to pick up two points for their 6-5 victory.
But Sunday’s home game against the 3-1-1 Red Wings, although ringing with déjà vu, did not end with the same result. The Jets ended the first period 4-0, prompting Head coach Scott Rodda to pull backstop Foster Cote in favour of veteran goaltender Rob Carter, a reversal of Friday night’s situation. Although the Red Wings added a fifth goal to their tally early in the middle frame, the Jets managed to close the gap to 5-3 by the end of the second period. Third period game play saw the Jets pull within one of tying the game 3:42 into the final period, a goal that was answered 10 minutes later by the Red Wings to widen the gap to 6-4. Although the Jets pocketed a fifth with 4:18 left in the game, they were unable to get the one goal they needed to drive the contest into overtime, securing them at least one point for their efforts.
“It was a matter of us starting slow both games,” said Head Coach Scott Rodda of the weekend’s efforts, adding he felt the club’s Friday night comeback was a character building exercise for the team. “But again tonight, four nothing after one – you can’t play hockey like that and be successful. We came back and made a good game of it again, but we need to play 60 minutes to be competitive in this league. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned.”
Despite earning two out of a possible four points this weekend, Rodda said he is not disappointed with his rookies or his veterans.
“The rookies are doing well, learning very quickly that we can’t take shifts off,” Rodda said, noting the Red wings are a solid, hard hitting team. “We need to compete and that means competing for loose pucks, taking hits to make plays, and they’re maybe not used to that kind of tempo in midget. It’s a big step up. They’re doing well, but it’s a learning curve.”
Six games into the season, the Jets are leading the league with 36 goals, an average of six goals per game. However, they are also not far behind in leading the league in penalty minutes. The Jets have racked up 183 minutes in the sin bin thus far this season, slightly behind the Beaumont Chiefs.
“We have lots of offence,” Rodda said of the Jets ability to ripple their opponent’s mesh, noting he feels the club needs to ramp up its defensive game. “We have to be strong in our own end. It’s not the goalies’ fault. In my opinion, the last two games they’ve played well. I pulled them both times, but it’s not because of them; it’s just to get the team going.”
The Jets do not have a home game this week. The club’s regular Sunday home game will be replaced by a road trip to take on the 3-1-1 Beverly Warriors. That game is set for 8 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Clareview Arena in Edmonton.