In the fifth place game of the Joe Raymond Holiday Hockey Classic, the Waterloo Warriors faced the Janesville Bluebirds. Despite a pivotal effort in the third period, the Bluebirds couldn’t power to a win over the Warriors.
The first period started a little slow, both teams getting into their groove after back-to-back game days. Waterloo struck first with a goal by Jacob Sessler that soared into the top left corner of the net off a pass from Lee Jensen through traffic in front of the net.
Just 21 seconds later, Janesville’s Connor Perkins settled the score with a goal from Sam Iverson to tie the game at 1 with 8:36 to play in the period.
It wasn’t long before the Warriors took the lead again as Kyle Schott backhanded a shot over Bluebird goaltender Michael MacDougall for a goal. Cameron Pries and Sam Richter earned assists on the goal scored with 7:59 remaining in the first.
A penalty on Waterloo’s Austin Kugler for cross-checking gave the Bluebirds an opportunity to tie the game once again, but the penalty kill unit stood strong. The Warriors ended the period with a 2-1 lead over the Bluebirds.
Two powerplay opportunities for the Warriors after penalties on Seth France and Harrison Heenschler for tripping and high-sticking, respectively, gave them an added spring to their step.
It wasn’t until the second powerplay that Waterloo tallied their next goal. After receiving a pass from Kyle Schott, Josh Almaraz fired a shot from the top of the left circle that got underneath MacDougall for a goal.
The Warriors ended the period on a goal by Lee Jensen from Pries with 42.3 seconds left to extend their lead to 4-1. Pries caught a pass at the blue line, which he skated up to the right faceoff dot before passing the puck over to Jensen who was waiting in front of the net.
After a little tussle with Janesville’s Heenschler during the goal celebration, the refs assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Pries who headed to the box for the last 42 seconds of the second period and gave the Bluebirds the advantage coming into the third.
Janesville took advantage of the momentum swinging in their favor coming into the period, and Heenschler persisted to get the powerplay goal 32 seconds into the third.
Penalties plagued the next almost 10 minutes of play, but both goaltenders remained strong facing many shots at disadvantages.
With 2:50 to play in the game, the Bluebirds pulled their netminder for an extra skater. Iverson powered towards the net and went right with a backhanded shot that went over the top of Sam Metcalf’s, Waterloo’s goalie’s, left pad. That goal tightened the Warriors’ lead to just one goal.
The Warriors played strong defense and hammered hard for the last 50 seconds of play, not allowing passes to be made or shots to be taken by Janesville. This exemplary effort in the last seconds of the game ensured the 4-3 win for Waterloo and a fifth place finish in the tournament.