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NA Now: Janesville Jets

August 18, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.

Janesville Jets

Head Coach: Joe Dibble (7th season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 23-28-9, 55 pts. (8th in the Midwest Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Jimmy Doyle (41 points)

2023 Playoffs: Did not qualify

2023-24 Division: Midwest

First regular season game: Friday, September 8th vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs

Home opener: Friday, September 8th vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs

The 2022-23 season was a promising one early on for the Janesville Jets. The team started with a perfect 4-0 record at the NAHL Showcase allowing just four goals in the four-day event. The good fortune would not continue however as the Jets suffered multiple season-ending injuries to some of their top players. Younger players stepped up for the club, keeping the Jets in the playoff hunt for most of the season before tailing off at the end of the year.

Janesville bench boss Joe Dibble tries to look at the adversity in a positive light as many of his rookies and young players got more ice time than expected. “We ran into a little bit of an injury bug and lost five or six key players to season ending or long-term injuries,” Dibble explained. “Ultimately it allowed our younger guys to get that experience that they might not have gotten in their rookie season. I look at it as building for the future. It might be a blessing in disguise.”

The Jets have consistently produced many NCAA commitments and that didn’t change this past year as 18 players have college homes, with 16 of those 18 at the Division I level. Janesville had one of their own get his named called at the NHL Draft as Chris Pelosi was taken in the 3rd round with the 92nd overall pick by the Boston Bruins.

“For myself, my staff, and our organization, we really try to live by that player first model. These players are in a situation where hockey is opening up doors for their future so for us we put a huge focus on the development side,” said Dibble. “We’re putting a ton of kids, not just into college hockey but into pro hockey. It’s a model we’ve had in Janesville for the last 11-12 years. To see these guys go off and earn and achieve scholarships to play college hockey is something you can’t really replace.”

With players leaving for school or elevating to higher levels of junior hockey, the Jets needed to fill holes all over the roster. “We kind of needed to find all positions for our team this year. We needed to go find scoring, we needed to find veterans because as young as we are, guys we planned on having back ended getting pulled up. Our main focus was scoring and being tougher to play against,” Dibble said.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Joe Dibble

The Jets will get their captain Ethan Begg back for his third and final junior season. The forward from Colorado scored seven times and had 15 points in 31 games before his season came to an end with an injury. Noah Gibbs is back for a second season in Janesville. He potted nine tallies and notched 29 points in 57 contests. Then there’s Matthew Hale. The rookie lit the lamp five times and ended his campaign with 21 points in 51 appearances. Conner Brown returns to anchor the blue line. The Minnesota native had five goals and 26 points in 52 games from the point. Peter Sterling also returns from injury to give the Jets a familiar face in between the pipes. He went 5-4-2 in 12 games last year, sporting a 2.74 goals against average and a .912 save %.

“Ethan Begg will be our captain this year, we had to shut him down midway through the season. I’m expecting big things from Noah Gibbs as well,” Dibble said. “On the back end we’ve got Conner Brown coming back who should be running our power play and be a very offensive piece for us and I know he’s had a big offseason so we’re extremely excited to see him back there again. Peter Sterling is another one we had to shut down and he missed the majority of the season. But he got invited and participated in the Philadelphia Flyers development camp this summer and he’s progressing really well, so we’re excited for him.”

The Jets have been a staple in Janesville for the last decade and want to reward their dedication and commitment with a Robertson Cup Championship. “It’s a phenomenal community. That community is very special, and we make sure when our guys get here they become part of that community. When it comes to the playoff and the Robertson Cup, it takes a lot of sacrifices throughout the entire season and we plan on doing whatever it takes for one another to find ourselves in a situation to not just make the playoffs but make some noise in the playoffs and make a run at this thing this year,” said Dibble.

Next Up: Johnstown Tomahawks

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