24 teams in 24 days: Janesville Jets
August 28, 2013
The 24 Teams in 24 Days series features a look at all 24 teams in the NAHL for the 2013-14 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Friday, September 13th as eight NAHL teams take to the ice on Opening Night. 24 in 24 will go in-depth into each NAHL team and will include interviews with all 24 head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2013-14 season, including taking a look at their roster and their strengths as a team. It will also take a look back on the 2012-13 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 24 in 24 is done to provide the fans of the NAHL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
Head Coach: Joe Dibble
2012-13 record: 23-27-10, 56 pts. (Tied for 6th in the North Division)
2012-13 leading scorer: Jason Ford (58 GP, 24G, 21A, 45 Pts, -6)
2013 Playoffs: Did not qualify
2013-14 Division: North
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 18th vs. Aberdeen Wings, 4:45pm
Home opener: Friday, September 27th vs. Coulee Region Chill, 7:00pm
With the youngest team in the NAHL last season, the Janesville Jets had a mixed bag of expectations heading into the 2012-13 season. On the one hand, everyone wants on ice success, which hopefully translates into the playoffs and a shot at the Robertson Cup. On the other hand, teams want to develop their players so they get noticed and move onto the higher levels of hockey. The Jets were in rebuilding mode and for the most part, considered the season a success.
Head coach Joe Dibble said that he was please with what the organization and players were able to do to meet expectations and goals. “With the youngest team in the league, there were a lot of unknowns and variables. We knew we wanted to go young to really attract some serious NCAA attention last year,” said Dibble. “We had 37 NCAA Division I teams and 17 NHL teams that checked in our building last year and scouted our guys, so that was a big sign of the way we built our team and tried to open doors for our players.”
The Jets also continued their tradition of being heavily involved in the community. During the season, the Jets were honored with the prestigious Community Improvement Award at the Thirteenth Annual Forward Janesville Awards Banquet. Forward Janesville, which leads private sector economic and community development efforts throughout Rock County, chose the Jets organization from numerous submitted nomination forms, as they demonstrated exemplary contributions to the well being of the Janesville Community. Dibble said that honor was not lost on the players. “Our guys did 2,200 hours of community service in eight months and it was something that helped them grow as people and they took a lot of pride in that award.”
On the ice, the Jets were competitive night in and night out, and ended up tied for the sixth and final playoff spot in the North Division with Springfield, with both teams having 56 points. However, Springfield’s 26 wins compared to Janesville’s 23 was the first tie-breaker and the Jets season came to a close, but Dibble was positive about the effort his players put in. “We had six players move onto the NCAA, including several Division I commitments and in a rebuilding year, we were in the playoff race until the very last game of the regular season, so I was very pleased with the way we competed and the progress that was made on the ice,” said Dibble.
Looking towards the 2013-14 season, Dibble said that the main focus in the off-season was picking up some players to fill the void left on the back end. “Out of the seven defensemen we had last year, we only had two returning to start the season,” said Dibble. “We knew we had to get some guys with experience so we went out some guys that we knew could play at this level. We felt with the guys we brought in, we really improved our defense and that there is some experience back there.”
The Jets went out and got Carson Vance, who played in Kenai River last year. They also picked up Jesse Junttila (Northern Michigan), who played last season in the NAHL for the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings. In addition, the Jets signed USHL veteran Zach Yoder to a tender.
In goal, the Jets will return recent Air Force commit Austin Priebe. The 19-year-old Wisconsin native returns between the pipes for his second year in the NAHL with a lot of experience and good size (6’3/206). Last season, he appeared in 25 games and posted a 2.93 goals against average and a 91.3% save percentage. The talent does stop there in goal as newcomers Logan Halladay and Reed Kinsey, will both push for playing time. Hallday, who just turned 17, is a potential NHL and NCAA prospect, who played the 2011-12 season in the NAPHL. Kinsey is a California native who according to Dibble is “a guy with a lot of energy and quickness.”
Dibble said that with the recent string of NCAA commitments by Jets goaltenders, the battle for playing time is one that he feels is healthy for all involved. “Austin is a competitor and I know whether it is Logan or Reed, there will be a push and healthy competition for playing time. Austin comes into the season fresh off the commitment to Air Force and will be our go-to guy, but he also understands that part of this is mentoring the younger guys and making sure they buy into the team concept,” said Dibble.
Every team needs veteran leadership and the Jets have it in a few players. Forward Todd Koritzinsky returns up front after being a point per game player the second half of last season. “Todd has come in with a win or go home attitude and he has as much value on the ice as off the ice. He is teaching the rookies about good habits and for a guy in his third year of playing junior hockey, he knows this is his final opportunity to make an impact,” said Dibble. Other veterans that Dibble will look to for leadership are Mike Sullivan, who had 15 points last season as a 17-year-old and Elliot Tisdale, who played last season for the Jamestown Ironmen as was a leader for their club, who made the Robertson Cup Tournament.
“We want our players to buy into the team concept. These guys need each other to get to the next level. We want to win our division, win in the playoffs and win the Robertson Cup. I think just as important however, is we want these guys to enjoy the experience of playing junior hockey and become better hockey players and people,” Dibble said.
Next up in the 24 in 24 series: Johnstown Tomahawks