DRAMATIC RALLY LIFTS ICE BREAKERS TO FIRST OT WIN
By Jared Tennant
PHOTO: Dee Hannum
Mentor, OH – The Mentor Ice Breakers entered Sunday’s series finale against the Danville Dashers looking to salvage what had been a disappointing slate of games against the fifth-place Dashers, who opened the weekend with a pair of home wins over Mentor. The Ice Breakers looked to be headed to their third straight loss against Danville before a two-goal rally in the final minute of regulation led to a game-winning goal from newly-acquired forward Parker Moskal just over a minute into overtime, capping off a crazy 8-7 victory.
The Dashers controlled play early and took a 1-0 lead at 1:10 of the opening frame when Fred Hein scored on a wrister, stretching his point streak to seven games. Mentor responded on the power play at 3:45 with Mark Essery’s team-leading 21st goal of the season. Tommy Mahoney initially whiffed on a wrist shot from the blue line, but Essery was able to pick up the loose puck and fire a shot over the outstretched glove of Dashers goaltender Matt Kaludis. The exciting first period continued just 31 seconds later when Brett Oldaker scored off assists from Mahoney and Brody Duncan, who made his return from an eight-game suspension.
Danville forward Taylor Cutting isn’t really known for his scoring touch, but you wouldn’t know it after watching this weekend’s games. The rookie out of Royersford, Pennsylvania netted his second goal in his last three games against the Ice Breakers with a beautiful deflection on a wrist shot from Hein that left Mentor netminder John Sellie-Hanson with little chance to make the save. The Dashers were able to pull ahead before the first intermission with a goal from Eric Masters with 18 seconds left in the opening period.
The Dashers were looking to take control in the first few minutes of the second period and did just that when Brandon Contratto scored three minutes in on a power play to give Danville a 4-2 advantage. Just 22 seconds later, Moskal netted his first goal of the evening on a great individual effort, carrying the puck in all the way from his own defensive zone before beating Kaludis on the near-side post.
Levi Armstrong restored the Dashers lead on a breakaway that caused Ice Breakers Head Coach Iain Duncan to insert goaltender Derek Moser into the game, replacing Sellie-Hanson. Moskal answered once again with a nice deke that led to a backhanded finish at 7:39, less than a minute after Armstrong’s tally. Mentor tied the game at 5-5 when Matt Kadolph tipped home a slapshot from Duncan from the point. Brett Oldaker also chipped in with an assist on the goal, which was Kadolph’s 12th of the season.
Danville took the lead for the third time with less than three minutes left in the second period when Daniel Martin netted a shorthanded goal before the Dashers made it a two-goal game at 18:20 when Alex Basey capitalized on a 2-man breakaway. Moser made the initial save, but Basey sent the rebound through the five-hole for his second goal on the year to make it a 7-5 game in favor of Danville.
The Ice Breakers controlled play for the vast majority of the third period, but Danville created enough traffic in front of the net to prevent any realistic scoring opportunities. Sellie-Hanson came back into the game at the beginning of the third period, and he was able to settle things down, albeit with limited action. It wasn’t until the final few minutes of regulation that Mentor was able to get anything going offensively. After Jared Henderson was called for a check from behind at 17:26, Dustin Henning took a delay of game penalty 55 seconds later to setup a 5-on-3 power play for the Ice Breakers. Sellie-Hanson was pulled for the extra attacker, and the Ice Breakers used the ensuing three-man advantage to setup a beautiful passing play as Brody Duncan sent a backdoor pass to Declan Conway, who deposited the puck into the open net on a one-timer.
The Ice Breakers completed their last-minute rally when a scramble in front of the net led to a rebound goal for Tommy Mahoney with only 4.5 seconds left in regulation, giving Mentor its third power-play goal of the evening and sending the Ice Breakers faithful into a frenzy. After a great save by Sellie-Hanson on a Dashers breakaway in the first minute of overtime, Moskal was sprung free for a breakaway of his own off a pass from Patrick Porkka and capitalized to hand the Ice Breakers their first overtime win in franchise history.
Moskal finished the game with four points after netting a hat trick and dishing out an assist on Mahoney’s goal. Mahoney chipped in with a four-point night of his own with a goal and three assists while Brody Duncan racked up three assists in his return from an eight-game suspension. The Ice Breakers led shots on goal 48-31, including a 21-3 advantage in the third period. For the Dashers, Contratto, Hein, and Masters each scored and dished out a pair of assists while Kaludis took his first overtime loss of the year after making 40 saves.
The Ice Breakers, proud members of the Federal Hockey League, are in their inaugural season. Single-game tickets and ticket packages are available 24/7 online at mentoricebreakers.com/tickets. They can also be purchased at the box office prior to every home game or by calling (440) 290-8502.