ICE BREAKERS SNAP LOSING STREAK ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
By Jared Tennant
PHOTO: Dee Hannum
Mentor, OH—Monday night’s New Year’s Eve matchup between the Mentor Ice Breakers and the visiting Port Huron Prowlers saw a pair of teams riding multi-game losing streaks looking to right the ship. In a back-and-forth game at the Mentor Civic Ice Arena, the Ice Breakers held off a Prowlers rally attempt to snap their five-game losing streak and head into 2019 on a positive note.
It was a relatively quiet first period until the Prowlers got on the board with a power-play goal with less than two minutes to go in the frame. It was the eighth goal of the season for Zachary Zulkanycz, who gave his team a 1-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
The Ice Breakers took control of the game with a flurry of power-play goals in the second period. At 2:27, Vaughn Clouston took a pass from Brody Duncan, his defensive partner, and fired a one-time slapshot past Prowlers netminder Cory Simons. It was the second professional goal of Clouston’s career after the Michigan native scored during a three-game stint with the North Shore Knights last season.
At 13:00, Clouston fired a wrist shot that deflected off Simons and trickled in for his second goal on the man advantage of the period. Mark Essery and Brett Oldaker factored into the goal with assists as the Ice Breakers took their first lead of the game.
Mentor stretched its lead to 3-1 with less than two minutes to go in the period. Essery skated the puck towards the Prowlers net before flipping the puck to Thomas McKinnon, who finished it past Simons and into the Port Huron net.
Port Huron wasted no time in the third period as Alex Johnson scored on a fast break just 10 seconds into the frame. The momentum seemed to be shifting in the Prowlers’ favor, but a crucial mistake from Simons gave the Ice Breakers a two-goal advantage. Matt Kadolph, playing in his fifth game since joining the Ice Breakers, skated into the Prowlers defensive zone and fired a seemingly harmless wrist shot from just in front of the blue line. Simons knocked the puck down, but it trickled through his pads to give Mentor a 4-2 lead.
The back-and-forth affair continued about five minutes later when Matyas Kasek scored for the Prowlers. Ice Breakers netminder Derek Moser tried to lay down and cover the puck, but it was pushed out and Kasek sent it into the open goal while Moser was down on his back side.
At 14:12 of the final period, Patrick Porkka took a drop pass from Clouston and fired a wrist shot perfectly into the top corner of the net, beating Simons high on the glove side. The scoring in the game was capped off just 1:20 later when Zulkanycz scored his second goal of the night, making the score 5-4 in favor of the Ice Breakers. Port Huron had several quality scoring chances in the closing minutes, but Moser and Mentor managed to keep the puck out of the net.
Essery, Oldaker, and Brody Duncan dished out two assists apiece for the Ice Breakers, who were in desperate need of the win after an ugly series against the Carolina Thunderbirds. Moser stopped 33 of 37 shots while Simons made 34 saves for the Prowlers. The Ice Breakers held a 39-37 edge in shots on goal at the end of the night.
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.