Jansen leads Chill past Jr. Blues

Jansen kept a hot hand Friday, scoring two goals as the amped-up Chill beat the Springfield Jr. Blues 

5-3 in front of 912 people at the OmniCenter.

Coulee Region’s first-round draft pick of 2011, Jansen has nine points (five goals and four assists) in his past six games. Jansen had 16 points through his first 35 games.

There hasn’t been any special formula, said Jansen, a White Bear Lake, Minn., native.

“Coming into each game I’m feeling more comfortable,” he said. “I know what’s expected of me, I know what to expect from other teams and I’m starting to have more fun with it.”

It was certainly a fun night for the Chill, who wore special jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit local fire and rescue personnel after today’s game.

Not to mention that the Chill played with high energy for 60 minutes against a team that is one spot ahead of them in the Midwest Division standings.

Coulee Region (16-23-7) can pull within one point of third-place Springfield (20-23-2) with another win tonight.

Chill coach Garrett Strot was concerned about his team’s state of mind heading into Friday’s game.

“(Morning) pre-skate was … blah,” Strot said. “I kicked ’em off the ice. I’m glad I did.”

Strot addressed it again in his pre-game talk, which Jansen said had an effect.

“It was kind of a heart-to-heart,” Jansen said. “He told us we’re living the life, playing hockey every day, and that’s why we’re here. So we played like we wanted to be here tonight.”

Coulee Region took a 2-0 lead on goals by Chris Hughes and Cory Lushanko. Hughes’ goal was one for the highlight reel as he backhanded in a rebound while falling down. 

Springfield’s recently-acquired Czech sniper, Radim Matus, made it 2-1 at 14:39 of the first.

Jansen made it 3-1 just 39 seconds into the second period, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1 with linemate Patrick Steinhauser and firing a wrist shot over the glove over Gabe Antoni (36 saves).

“I saw Steiny was on his forehand and my first thought was to pass,” Jansen said. “But the defense was drawn over and I threw it on net and it went in.”

The teams traded goals after that, with Kyle Cook and Ethan Nauman bringing the Jr. Blues within one goal twice, but both times the Chill responded.

Ross Luedtke stole the puck from Cody Dixon in front of the Springfield net and beat Antoni, and Jansen buried a feed from Jake Useldinger at 14:47 of the third.

Jansen said he thought the pass was intended for Ben Jaremko, but skipped onto his stick. 

“Things are finally starting to go in for him,” Strot said.

Chill goaltender Aaron Davis made 39 saves, stopping two breakaways and one 2-on-1, for his first win since Jan. 21. Davis has been the team’s No. 1 goalie throughout the season but Strot went to rookie David Heflin for four of five games before the Springfield series.

“I just have high expectations for him and he has high expectations for himself,” Strot said of Davis. “When he’s on his game his that type of elite goalie.”

Davis was disappointed in the goals by Cook and Nauman, who beat him cleanly with low shots.

“That’s gonna eat at me; I’ll probably dream about them over and over tonight,” Davis said. “I should have figured it out after the first one but I’ll be ready tomorrow. I stopped all those tough ones and then gave up some easy ones. I’ll have to learn from it.

“I couldn’t be happier with the team, though. They battled hard tonight.”

WESP STEPS DOWN: Rick Wesp has resigned as the Chill’s general manager. Wesp has been with the franchise since its inception as the North Iowa Outlaws. He was the NAHL General Manager of the Year in 2008.

Strot will serve as the interim GM for the remainder of the season.

Wesp, who lives in Anoka, Minn., said earlier this week that other commitments and back-and-forth travel to Onalaska were among the reasons he stepped down.

“Rick is probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had,” Chill co-owner Mark Motz said. “I don’t believe he’s gone because he still calls three times a day. I think some of his frustration came from the fact that he felt his opinion on players was not valued, which is wrong because it was valued, but if he feels that way I’m not going to argue.”

Motz said he hopes to hire another general manager but won’t begin the formal search until this season is over.

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