ICE BREAKERS TAKE WEEKEND SERIES AGAINST DASHERS

By Jared Tennant

PHOTO: Ellen Tully/Danville Dashers 

Danville, IL – The Mentor Ice Breakers won their first two games in a weekend series against the Danville Dashers, but were unable to finish out the three-game sweep as Danville rallied for a 5-2 victory in the series finale. The Ice Breakers won by a score of 6-2 at home on Friday before splitting a pair of games at David S. Palmer Arena in Eastern Ilinois. Following this weekend’s action, the Ice Breakers picked up three points on the Dashers in the FHL standings.

Saturday, February 23 – Ice Breakers 1, Dashers 0

After both clubs arrived in Danville early on Saturday morning, goaltender Derek Moser led the Ice Breakers to victory in the second game of their weekend series against the Dashers. Moser stopped 32 shots en route to his fourth shutout of the season in the Ice Breakers’ 1-0 win, tying Carolina’s Christian Pavlas for most in the FHL.

The opening period began with Moser and his counterpart, Dashers netminder Matt Kaludis, trading quality saves. This proved to set the tone for the rest of the night for the two goaltenders as they engaged in a defensive battle for most of the game. After Mentor killed off four minor penalties through the first 15 minutes of the game, Dashers forward Chris Affinati made a mistake that would prove to be a pivotal moment in the contest. At 16:11, Danville appeared to have scored its first goal of the night, but Affinati had started a fight with Ice Breakers defenseman Thomas Devesvre before the puck was in the back of the net. As a result, the goal was waived off and Affinati was hit with a five-minute major for fighting while Devesvre, who didn’t have much time to react before Affinati jumped him, only took a two-minute penalty for roughing.

After two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey, the Ice Breakers began what would be a three-minute man advantage. With only 20 seconds remaining in the first period, blueliner Ryan Koresky took a pass from Patrick Porkka and fired a wrist shot from the blue line that found its way past Kaludis through heavy traffic. It was the second goal in as many games from Koresky, a 37-year-old who played collegiately at SUNY-Oswego from 2003-07.

Moser took full control of the game in the second frame, stopping all 14 Danville attempts. Kaludis matched him with 11 saves of his own, but the Ice Breakers maintained their 1-0 advantage at the end of a physical second period. At 17:24, Affinati was involved in another controversial situation as he jumped Declan Conway in front of the Dashers bench. Conway never had a chance to drop his gloves, and as a result the Ice Breakers went on a two-minute power play as Affinati was called for roughing on top of a 10-minute penalty for instigating.

In the end, the Moser and the Ice Breakers penalty kill unit proved to be the difference as the 1-0 score stood at the final horn. Mentor killed off all eight of Danville’s power play chances and converted on one of its nine opportunities on the man advantage. Kaludis fell to 9-20-0 despite stopping 27 of the 28 shots.

Sunday, February 24 – Dashers 5, Ice Breakers 2

Danville forward Fred Hein, who has appeared in 13 SPHL games this season, scored twice in the first five minutes on Sunday night as the Dashers led for nearly the entirety of the contest in a 5-2 win over the Ice Breakers. After Mentor was called for too many men just 45 seconds into the game, Hein needed only five seconds to capitalize on the ensuing man advantage before netting his second of the game and 13th of the season just over four minutes later.

At 7:37 of the opening period, Koresky made it a 2-1 game with his third goal in as many games against the Dashers. It was quite similar to his goal on Saturday; Koresky fired a wrist shot from the blue line that deflected off some bodies in front and beat Kaludis before he was able to track down the puck. Brett Oldaker notched an assist on the tally, which capped off the scoring in the first period.
Five minutes into the second frame, veteran forward Justin Brausen restored Danville’s two-goal lead at even strength off assists from Hein and Nathan Campbell. Brausen, 30, is the Dashers’ all-time points leader with 172 goals and 145 assists for a total of 317 points over 278 games with Danville. Mentor wasn’t able to answer Brausen’s goal until 1:49 into the final period when Alex Morrow scored his third goal of the year off feeds from Tim Perks and Porkka. Porkka’s assist on the goal, which was Morrow’s first since November 9 against the Watertown Wolves, gave the Rauma, Finland native five points (2-3-5) over his last four outings.

Danvile stole the momentum back when Brausen tipped home a slapshot from blueliner Aaron Atwell at 14:26, giving the Dashers a 4-2 lead with the Ice Breakers running out of time. Mentor had one last chance to get back into the game when Taylor Cutting took a hooking penalty with just over three minutes to go. Cutting, who apparently didn’t agree with the call, also received a 10-minute misconduct penalty for verbal abuse of an official. Mentor pulled Sellie-Hanson for a 6-on-4 advantage, but the comeback bid ultimately fell short when Brandon Contratto scored a shorthanded goal into the Ice Breakers’ empty net to give Danville a 5-2 lead.

For the Dashers, Hein factored in on four of five goals as he scored twice and dished out a pair of assists. Brausen added two goals and an assist of his own while Contratto scored and had an assist and Atwell added two helpers. Between the pipes, Kaludis stopped 45 of 47 shots while improving to 10-20-0. Sellie-Hanson stopped 14 of 16 Dashers attempts after being inserted into the game following Danville’s second goal. Mentor had a tough night on the power play, failing to convert on any of its 10 opportunities with a man advantage.

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.