TOLEDO, Ohio – Both the Metro Jets and MJDP finished off road sweeps Saturday night.
The Jets scored four unanswered goals and defeated the Toledo Cherokee 4-3 at the Team Toledo Ice House, while the MJDP needed just a Parker Wolters power-play goal and 26 saves from Kris Eberly to blank the Midwest Blackbirds 1-0 at the Midwest Ice and Training Center in Dyer, Ind.
In Toledo, the Jets faced a 3-0 deficit after 20 minutes, but mounted a comeback that ended with Matt Bleim’s goal with 2:37 to go in the third period.
“‘Germs’ (Josh German) did a great job keeping the puck in at the blue line,” explained Bleim. “I picked it up off the wall and beat the defender wide. I just tried to stuff it high to make something happen and it ended up going in.
“That’s a huge win for the boys with playoffs on the horizon. Every game is a must-win for us, and this is a great start going into next weekend. We came together going into the third and battled our way back to get the win.”
Nolan Turi, Devon Fields and Trevor Granzow also scored, while Justin Renzi and Anthony Cinato each posted two assists.
Machus Turner made 23 saves in the win, including a key stop late in the game, as the Jets outshot Toledo 40-26.
“We knew Toledo would come out hard after last night’s big loss, and I’ll give them credit for battling and their goalie (Chad Simmerman) for keeping them in the game, but I’m extremely proud of our guys for fighting through all that adversity and pulling out a huge win,” said Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “We had players sick and out with injuries and needed all our guys to commit to the game plan. You can tell our guys wanted it and every single guy played a big role tonight. We got big goals from Devon, ‘Granny,’ Nolan and ‘Bleimer,’ but I have to point out something I’ve never seen before.
“Machus Turner came back in the second and third to make some huge saves, but none was any bigger than his last one where he put his face on the line with no helmet on. Naturally, it would have been called off if it went in, but to see a player willing to do whatever it takes to keep the puck out of the net is impressive. Between Will (Augustine) and Machus right now, if our guys keep playing with this heart, I can’t wait to see them down the stretch. Proud to be their coach today and look forward to continuing to go to battle with them.”
This Wednesday, the Jets host the Lansing Wolves at Fraser Hockeyland at 6:45 p.m.
Next weekend, the second-place Jets host the first-place Pittsburgh Vengeance for two at Fraser Hockeyland. Game times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday night and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Just four points separates the Jets (32-7-1, 65 points) from Pittsburgh (33-5-1-2, 69 points) in the Great Lakes Division, and Pittsburgh has played one more game than the Jets.
“We know that every game is playoff hockey right now,” Bleim said. “The boys know we have to win out to get first place, and that’s what we want. We are taking every game as it comes and giving it our all.”
Meanwhile in Indiana, the MJDP (19-18-2-0, 40 points, third place) completed the sweep with a total team effort.
“That was a playoff-type game,” Jets assistant coach Dan Pszenyczny said. “The boys battled through a lot of adversity in all three periods. It was a roller coaster of emotions on the bench but once we settled down, we started to control the pace of the game and had them running around.
“Wolters had a perfect shot on the power play that got the boys going, and we didn’t let up after that. Eberly then made a huge save late in the game that sealed it for us.”
The MJDP outshot the Blackbirds 70-26.
“This win was huge for the guys,” added Eberly. “We really needed these points for playoffs. The boys battled hard all weekend. I’m proud of these guys.
“I didn’t get much action, but I was able to make big saves to keep the lead for the guys. The defense made my job pretty simple tonight.”
The MJDP is seven points behind the second-place Decatur Blaze and four points up on the fourth-place Fort Wayne Spacemen in the Midwest East Division.
Next weekend, the MJDP hosts Lansing Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and the Detroit Fighting Irish Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
“We just have to keep building from this,” Eberly said. “Reset this week at practice and just play Metro hockey again next weekend, keeping the playoff mentality.”
The two games Saturday will be the Jets’ annual Heroes Games, where the organization will honor and recognize military, police officers, firefighters and first responders.
All games will be streamed on www.HockeyTV.com with live updates on the USPHL app.