The Janesville Bluebirds took on the Middleton Cardinals in Janesville this Saturday afternoon. It was a hard-fought battle as it took till the final few minutes for a 6 - 4 victory for the Bluebirds in their second home game of the season. The Birds are on a three-game winning streak in Big Eight Conference play.
The first two minutes were back and forth between the zones, but Middleton starts the game on top as Ethan Lam does a back pass behind the net to Drew Sjowall, who had the poise to wait for Lam to circle back around to the slot wide open for an easy shot that Janesville goalie Jaicy Campbell couldn't stop. That was the Cards first shot on net. The Cardinals went up 1-0 early as 15:29 is left in the first.
The next few minutes the Cardinals put heavy pressure moving the puck around when they had it and forechecked well, making the Bluebirds stuck in their end. After a Middleton player dumps the puck into the zone Naveo Neal chases down the puck and passes it to his partner but after the puck is away, Middleton was penalized for charging, giving the Bluebirds their first power play of the game. The power play starts for just a few seconds before another penalty is called against the Cardinals, bringing the Cardinals down to 5 on 3 on a tripping call. Tyler Steuck found Jake Schaffner, alone wide open on the back door for an easy top-shelf shot. Middleton goalie Cam Haynes had no shot on saving the puck that ties the game with 11:39 left in the first.
A couple of minutes go by and the Bluebirds are regrouping in their zone looking to head into the Middleton zone. All of a sudden Middletons Brady Engelkes steals the puck. He came around and fires the puck in the top right corner, beating Campbell from just inside the left hash markers. Bluebirds go down and finish the period down 2-1.
The beginning of the second period had lots of big hits and big saves for both sides but it'll be the Bluebirds who strike first in the second. Skyler Swearingen steals the puck from a defenseman on the blueline which leads into a 2on1. Swearingen takes a shot on Haynes’s lower right pad which leaves a rebound for Ian Perkins to put it away, making the game tied at 2-2 with 13:09 left in the second.
The Bluebirds didn't wait long to strike again. A puck battle in the middle of the top of the circles
results in a puck getting kicked out to Ben Schaffner who passes it to Steuck who’s flying up the right-wing and shoots just below the blocker and the right leg pad of Hanyes giving the birds 3-2 with 11:07 in the second period.
After 10 more minutes of hard-fought battling, the Cardinals responded. The Bluebirds have a terrible change and the Cardinals capitalize on a turnover. The puck gets to Vince Kalscheur after a pass by Brendan Julius. Kalscheur shoots at Campbell’s five-hole which leaks through and Kalscheur goes after his own rebound and scores, tying the game again at 3-3.
The third period had the crowd on both sides watching another classic game between these conference foes.
Janesville’s Jake Schaffner, raced a defensemen to the net, gets tripped and falls, giving the Bluebirds a power play. On the power play, Schaffner passes to Ian Perkins who shoots but , Keegan Erickson, screening Haynes, tips Ian Perkins' shot scoring, and celebrates hard with his teammates jumping up and down. Bluebirds are now up 4-3,14:55 left in the third.
Middleton came right back to tie the game while defending a 1-1, Kadin Garcia accidentally trips the Middleton player giving the Cardinals a power play. .A breakout pass to the winger Ryan Inman to Brendan Julius who skated up the left-wing and crossed Campbell and beat him over the blocker to tie it again at 4 apiece with 3:41 remaining, visibly frustrating Campbell.
But that was where Janesville would put the game out of reach.
The Bluebirds tried as hard as they could to get into the zone by dumping it and getting the puck back off the forecheck. Schaffner passes the puck to Neil who shoots the puck from the left side of the blueline which gives a big rebound and Tyler Steuck comes in the clutch by diving and beating Haynes to give the lead back to the Bluebirds. The Birds close out the game by adding an empty netter after Ian Perkins comes up with a big block shot which leads to Garcia flipping the puck up in the air and Schaffner turns on the jets and beats the defenseman to score the empty netter.
Jaicy Campbell made 44 saves in the win.Jake Schaffner had 2 goals and 2 assists in this Saturday afternoon game. Tyler Steuck had 2 goals and 3 assists in the game. Middleton goalie Cam Haynes made 26 saves. Brendan Julius chipped in a goal and an assist for the Cardinals. Middletons season record goes to 2-3 overall, 0-2 in conference play. The next game is a home game against Sun Prairie.The Bluebirds, 3-0 overall and in conference play, have another challenge coming as they play in Oregon next Tuesday.