ICE BREAKERS TAKE DOWN WOLVES IN SERIES FINALE

By Jared Tennant

PHOTO: Dee Hannum

Mentor, OH – The Mentor Ice Breakers are not your typical last-place team. Mentor has saved its best hockey for late in the season, something that was proven over this weekend’s three-game series against the Watertown Wolves. After winning on the road on Friday night and falling in overtime on Saturday, the Ice Breakers put together a complete-game effort in a 6-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at Mentor Civic Ice Arena. With the win, Mentor took seven of nine possible points against the Wolves.

Mentor’s leading scorers hooked up to kick off the scoring midway through the first period. After taking a pass from Tommy Mahoney, Gordy Bonnel slid a backhanded pass across to crease to Mark Essery, who sent the puck into an open net for his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Watertown responded at 15:10 when Jordan Bailey finished a backdoor pass for his first of the year in his third game since joining the Wolves. The two clubs appeared to be headed to a 1-1 tie at the first intermission with seconds ticking down on an Ice Breakers power play, but a bad turnover led to a shorthanded breakaway for Lane King, who scored on a backhander to give Watertown its first lead of the afternoon.

Mentor defenseman Thomas Devesvre tied things back up with a power-play goal at 4:39 of the second frame, receiving a pass from Parker Moskal before ripping a slapshot from the point that found the back of the net through heavy traffic. Only 22 seconds later, the Ice Breakers took the lead back with Essery’s second of the night off assists from Ryan Koresky and Moskal. Steven Fowler completed Mentor’s big second period when he scored on a rebound to give the Ice Breakers a 5-2 lead. Ryan Koresky fired the initial shot after being fed by Moskal, so both players were credited with assists.

The second frame was arguably one of Mentor’s best of the season as it held a 21-2 advantage in shots on goal. The only downside for the Ice Breakers was a scary moment when Brett Oldaker was inadvertently hit with a high stick, and he appeared to be in considerable pain as he made his way to the bench. Luckily, Oldaker didn’t have to miss much ice time and looked to be okay.

At 6:57 of the third period, Wolves netminder Jared Rutledge was unable to cover up a loose puck and Matt Kadolph took advantage, finding the back of the net despite multiple Wolves defenders attempting to clear it out. Fowler and Devesvre both assisted on the goal, giving both players multi-point nights. After the halfway point of the final frame, the momentum seemed to be shifting after the Ice Breakers were called for a pair of simultaneous minor penalties. Declan Conway took a holding penalty while Essery was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct call, setting Watertown up for two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage.

It took only 20 seconds for the Wolves to capitalize on the ensuing power play as Tyler Gjurich scored his 39th goal at 16:10 off assists from Deric Boudreau and Kyle Powell. A few weeks ago, the Ice Breakers might have been discouraged by the turn of events and allowed the Wolves to get back in the game. But a hustle play by Fowler ultimately sealed the Ice Breakers victory. The Oxford, Michigan native created a turnover near the end of Mentor’s penalty kill and broke free for a breakaway before sending a shot through the five-hole of Rutledge for a 6-3 Ice Breakers lead. Fowler’s goal was his ninth of the season and gave Mentor its second shorthanded tally of the game.

For the Ice Breakers, Moskal logged three assists while Fowler had a three-point performance with a pair of goals and an assist. Essery netted a pair of goals while Koresky dished out two assists. Between the pipes, goaltender John Sellie-Hanson made 25 saves en route to improving his record to 4-6-0. Rutledge fell to 6-8-1 after a 36-save performance. Both Mentor and Watertown went 1-for-5 on the power play while the Ice Breakers led shots on goal 43-29. The Ice Breakers are back in action next weekend with a three-game series against the Danville Dashers, including a home game 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.