FOWLER'S HAT TRICK LIFTS ICE BREAKERS IN ROUT

By Jared Tennant

PHOTO: Dee Hannum

Mentor, OH—Before Saturday night’s contest between the Mentor Ice Breakers and Danville Dashers on Saturday night, forward Steven Fowler had yet to find the back of the net in four appearances since joining the Ice Breakers on a PTO contract. Fowler, 21, had dished out three assists, but couldn’t capitalize despite being a central cog in Mentor’s offensive effort. That changed against the Dashers as the Oxford, Michigan native racked up three goals in the Ice Breakers’ 7-2 thrashing of Danville.

Surprisingly, neither team scored in what was a relatively quiet opening period. Mentor threatened several times on a 5-on-3 power play chance, but the Dashers penalty kill unit came through. Brett Oldaker didn’t waste any time in the second period, though, as he netted his eighth goal of the season at 1:12. Oldaker took a pass from Joe Ftoma before skating from left to right across the circles and sending a wrist shot over the blocker of Dashers netminder Matt Kaludis.

Joe Swenson stretched Mentor’s lead to 2-0 midway through the period after taking a drop pass and firing a wrist shot into the top left corner of the net. It was the second goal of the season for Swenson, who also scored in the Ice Breakers’ 5-4 overtime loss on the road against the Elmira Enforcers on January 5.

Fowler scored the first goal of his FHL career just over a minute later with Nate Farrington and Matt Kadolph chipping in with assists. At 14:44 of the second, Fowler netted his second of the game after creating his own offense. On an Ice Breakers penalty kill, Fowler poke checked a Dashers defenseman in Danville’s defensive zone and skated in on a breakaway chance. He deked a few times and sent a backhander over the glove of Kaludis to make it 4-0 in favor of Mentor. The tally was the Ice Breakers’ first shorthanded goal of the season and their first in franchise history.

Just 22 seconds after Fowler’s goal, Patrik Zilak broke Ice Breakers netminder Derek Moser’s shutout bid with a power-play goal. Forward Fred Hein, who recently returned from an SPHL call-up, and interim player-coach Dustin Henning added the assists. That proved to be Danville’s only goal of the period as the two clubs headed to the second intermission with Mentor on top 4-1.

Predictably, things got chippy in the third period after the Ice Breakers scored a flurry of goals to take a commanding 7-1 lead. Matt Kadolph began Mentor’s onslaught with his fifth goal of the season. Kadolph was broken free on a breakaway after a nice pass from Vaughn Clouston and deked twice before sending the puck into the top right corner of the net.

Just seven seconds later, Fowler finished off his hat trick. The former Chatham Maroon (GOJHL) beat Kaludis off assists from Farrington and Gordy Bonnel, who pushed his point streak to 14 games. At 16:55 of the final period, blueliner Brody Duncan capped off the scoring for Mentor with a shorthanded goal. Duncan took the puck on a breakaway and went five-hole on a backhanded shot for his third FHL goal.

Less than a minute later, Danville capitalized on its power-play chance when Brandon Contratto scored with Daniel Martin and Nathan Campbell getting the assists. It was the second time in the game that both teams scored on the same Dashers power play.

For the Ice Breakers, Kadolph had a three-point night with a goal and two assists while Farrington dished out three helpers. Oldaker also contributed a goal and a pair of assists while Duncan and Swenson both had multi-point games. In goal, Moser stopped 36 of 38 shots for his seventh win of the season while Kaludis took the loss after making 37 saves for Danville.

The Ice Breakers are back in action next weekend with a three-game series against the red-hot Carolina Thunderbirds. Mentor will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the first two games of the series before the two clubs head back to Mentor to finish things out next Sunday afternoon.

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.