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Jets end Wilderness streak

The Janesville Jets overcame a two-goal deficit to come back and beat the Minnesota Wilderness 7-4 on Saturday, and sweep a two-game weekend series in Cloquet.

A strong first period allowed the Wilderness to jump out to a 3-1 lead Saturday. Janesville opened the scoring 3:17 on Cody Menzel’s first goal in just his second ever Junior A hockey game, but the Wilderness countered quickly. Noah Decker picked up his second goal of the season just 14 seconds later on a wrist shot from the faceoff circle to the left of Jet netminder Owen Millward. That was followed by two consecutive tallies by Bobby Metz. The first was on a feed to the high slot from Bryce Howard, while the second came on a pass from Max Ruoho.

The Jets then began to show some life in the second, as the Wilderness were hampered by a number of mistakes including three minor penalties called on Max Neill. One of those infractions led to a power play goal, as Cy LeClerc sent a shot past Jacob Zacharewicz at the 6:27 mark to make the score 3-2. The Wilderness answered quickly, as former Hermantown Hawk Aaron Pionk sent a rocket from the left point past Owen Milward to again put the Wilderness up by two points. Duluth’s Cole Christian, in his second Junior A game, assisted on the goal, giving him his first point with the Wilderness. Janesville would get one more before the period ended, as Jan Lasak scored on a 2-on-1 after getting a saucer pass from Arsenii Smekhnov.

The Jets continued to pressure in the third, and drew even when LeClerc picked up his second goal of the game. LeClerc took a centering pass from Lasak and slipped a shot past Zacharewicz. He then collided with the Wilderness goaltender, forcing him out of the game due to injury. Zacharewicz was replaced in net by Sam LeVecchi.

The Jets regained the lead when Lasak redirected an A.J. Casperson shot from the left point, and then got two more insurance goals: one on a breakaway by Jonah Aegerter and another on an empty net by Smekhnov.

The Jets outshot the Wilderness 27-21.

The loss drops the Wilderness record to 11-7-1 on the 2021-22 season, and marks the first time this season Minnesota failed to get a point in a weekend series. The previous weekend, the Wilderness swept a two-game series against the Minnesota Magicians in Richfield.

They aimed to snap their two-game losing streak Thursday night, Nov. 18, when they traveled to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, to take on the Steel.