The Janesville Arena in Janesville, WI, is considered to be a tornado shelter when twisters converge on the southern Wisconsin city. That became necessary Friday night in the midst of the game between the Minnesota Wilderness and Janesville Jets as the National Weather Service reported a tornado touching down a few miles from the arena. That led to a short delay at 5:11 into the first period of the contest where both teams had to leave the ice and everyone in the building had to be gathered within the various locker rooms and bathrooms designated for shelter. An all clear sounded about 10 minutes later, and the game was then allowed to resume.
But while Mother Nature’s storm outside dissipated, the Jets were just beginning to build up their own within the confines of their own arena, and there was no place to hide for Minnesota.
The Jets scored six goals (one before the game was suspended) from six different players en route to a 6-1 victory. That snapped a 3-game winning for the Wilderness and a 4-game losing skid for Janesville.
The Jets jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead thanks to tallies from Ryan Roethke, Merril Steenari and Gustav Portillo, all within the first 12:47 of the opening frame. The third goal led to Niklas Erickson relieving Isak Posch as Wilderness goaltender.
The goalie change added some spark to Minnesota, as the team responded with its lone marker in the contest. Kevin Marx Norén notched his 28th of the season when he redirected a shot from Max Wattvil past Jet netminder Peter Sterling with 5:04 left to play in the first stanza. That power play goal was also assisted by Michael Quinn, and the 3-1 score remained into the 2nd period.
Janesville added two more in the middle frame from Josh Orrico and Grayden Daul and closed out the scoring when Mack Keryluk deposited one toward the midway point of the third.
The Wilderness created a little turbulence for the Jets in the final period when it finished with a 10-4 shot advantage. The third also saw Cole Gordon and Max Wagener serve up their own monsoon when they got into a fight along the boards in the Janesville end near the Jets bench. A barrage of fists from both participants led to a game-misconduct for Gordon, who was also penalized for instigating, and a 10-minute misconduct for Wagener.
The game ended with both teams putting 25 shots on goal. Sterling made his net a safe haven for the puck allowing one goal with 24 saves. For the Wilderness, Posch stopped five on eight shots, while Erickson turned aside 14 on 17 that went in his direction.
Both teams finished one-for-five on the power play.
Minnesota entered the game needing only one win, or one regulation loss from the Anchorage Wolverines, to nail down a berth in the 2023 Robertson Cup playoffs. That could still happen before sunrise Saturday as the match between Anchorage and Chippewa Steel (being played in Anchorage, AK) is in progress as this recap is being written.
Either way, the Wilderness will hope to have the wind at its back in Saturday night’s rematch in Janesville, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
As for the storm itself, local media has not indicated any casualties. According to WKOW.com, the Rock County Sheriff’s department reported trees and wires were toppled south of Janesville near Beloit and Clinton.