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Flivvers double up Jets, 4-2

Jeffers goaltender Simon Rajala (31) is shown in action against Kingsford on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Houghton, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — Still searching for their first win of the season, the Jeffers Jets looked like they were on their way after one period of play Monday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

The problem with that is, hockey is a three-period game, and over the final 34 points, the visiting Kingsford Flivvers scored four times to earn a 4-2 victory.

For the Flivvers, finding ways to win when dressing 12 skaters is a challenge. However, coach Greg Wadge was pleased with how his squad bounced back after a disastrous first period that saw them struggle to get one shot on goal on a major power play and surrender a goal in the final minute of the frame.

“We had a bad first period,” he said. “We came out flat and it didn’t get any better until the second.

“Our power play, we didn’t set it up at all. We didn’t take time. We’re just scrambling around. It didn’t look pretty, but the second and third was better.”

For the Jets (0-4, 0-4 GLHC) the opening 17 minutes saw them accomplish everything they were hoping to, kill off the lengthy power play and eventually put a puck in the back of the net when co-captain Brett Heinonen, who was whistled for the major penalty, fired a shot from the blue line that beat Flivvers goaltender Evan Anderson through traffic at 16:13.

“We’re kind of Jekyll and Hyde right now,” said Jets assistant coach Rick Cormier. “I’m not sure exactly … why that dynamic occurs. We seem to have things pretty much in control. I felt we were doing all the little things that we needed to do to be effective that we lacked last week, playing in Kingsford.”

Anderson finished the contest, his first game as a goaltender, with 22 saves to earn his first win. Wadge was excited for the senior.

“He’s doing a great job back there,” Wadge said. “We (have) got to get in front of them and help them out. I told the guys, ‘He’s sacrificing his senior year playing a position that he’s never played. You guys need to sacrifice yourselves in front of the night and block shots and get in lanes.'”

The Flivvers (4-3-1, 3-1 GLHC) flipped a switch internally to start the second period and it took just 1:09 for Hunter Fortner to cash in when his attempted feed into the slot hit a Jets defender and bounced behind sophomore goaltender Simon Rajala.

Rajala did everything he could to keep the Jets in the contest before giving up a long wrist shot to Tyler Bengston from the right side of the slot at 8:38.

Late in the second, the Jets came within inches of evening the game when freshman winger Cage Osterman found senior defenseman Caden Hillstrom in the right circle. Hillstrom’s shot beat Anderson, but the puck’s momentum could not carry it over the goal line.

The Jets put some consistent pressure on the Flivvers in their own end in the third, and on back-to-back shifts, senior defenseman Milo Kangas fired shots from the left point that Anderson had trouble with. The first beat him, but not the post, the second saw a rebound kick right to co-captain Kyler Hillstrom, whose shot was stopped.

The Jets pulled Simon Rajala with 1:31 remaining, but he had to quickly return to the net as the Jets found themselves backed up in their own end with a faceoff. They pulled Rajala a second time, but the Flivvers’ Carter Kreski got to a loose puck and scored with 42 seconds left in the contest.

The Jets are back in action at 6 p.m. Tuesday with a game on the road at Negaunee.

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