WOLVES RALLY TO STUN ICE BREAKERS IN OVERTIME
By Jared Tennant
PHOTO: Dee Hannum
Mentor, OH – In an entertaining matchup that featured four different ties and five lead changes, the Watertown Wolves rallied from a third-period deficit to top the Mentor Ice Breakers by a 6-5 final in overtime on Saturday night at Mentor Civic Ice Arena. With the win, the Wolves have evened the three-in-three weekend series between the two clubs at one game apiece.
Just like the previous night in Watertown, the Wolves had full control of the game in the early goings. Tyler Gjurich got things going five minutes into the game when he scored on what initially appeared to be a harmless rush into the Ice Breakers’ defensive zone. Deric Boudreau had the puck at the blue line, drawing three Mentor skaters towards him. Gjurich came streaking in wide open on the left side and took advantage of the defensive breakdown with his 37th goal of the year. The Wolves struck again 55 seconds later when Lane King was left open on the back door. King’s shot was saved by Moser, but Boudreau scored on the rebound for a 2-0 Watertown lead.
Matt Kadolph cut the Wolves’ lead in half at 14:03, sending a backhanded wraparound attempt past Watertown starter Blake Scott. Steven Fowler and Mentor goaltender Derek Moser earned the assists, marking the first goalie assist in Ice Breakers franchise history. Less than a minute later, the Wolves nearly took back their two-goal lead when a rebound was sent loose in front of Mentor’s net, but Moser managed to glove the bouncing puck out of the air to end the scoring threat.
Mentor appeared to have a prime opportunity to take control of the game when Justin Portillo and Josh Newburg were called for minor penalties on the same play late in the opening frame. Just 12 seconds into the two-man advantage, Declan Conway was called for interference. The Ice Breakers still had a lengthy 4-on-3 power play, but Watertown’s penalty kill unit held strong. Late in the power play, the Wolves appeared to be holding onto the puck in their own zone in order to finish out the last few seconds of Mentor’s man advantage. Just as the penalties expired, Mark Essery intercepted a pass and skated in on a breakaway before deking and finishing on the back hand. The shorthanded goal came at 18:54 of the first period, but Watertown answered only 37 seconds later with Boudreau’s second goal of the evening to go ahead 3-2.
The Ice Breakers came out firing on all cylinders in the second period when Nate Farrington scored his 8th goal of the year at 1:29 off assists from Vaughn Clouston and Joe Ftoma. The Ice Breakers went on to take their first lead of the night at 9:49 when Declan Conway picked up a loose puck and fired a wrist shot low to the blocker side. Boudreau tied the game at 4-4 and completed his hat trick less than two minutes later. The puck was covered by Moser and the officials initially didn’t rule a goal, but following a brief meeting the referee determined that the puck had crossed the goal line before the whistle was blown.
Mentor re-took the lead at 17:46 when Parker Moskal scored his second goal in as many games with a perfect shot to the top right corner on the near-side post. Scott appeared to be in position to make the save, but the perfectly-placed shot by Moskal found its way into the back of the net. Matt Kadolph and Patrick Porkka both assisted on the goal, which was Moskal’s third career tally in three FHL games.
Watertown inserted veteran netminder Jared Rutledge into the game in the third frame, and he turned things around for a Wolves club that was in danger of dropping its second straight game against the Ice Breakers. Rutledge stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period, including a highlight-reel save midway through the frame. At 12:35, the Ice Breakers had several chances to clear the puck but couldn’t, and Gjurich took advantage with the game-tying goal off assists from Boudreau and Lane King.
After both clubs traded chances in overtime, a wrist shot from the blue line by Kyle Powell was deflected home by King to send the Wolves to victory. Gjurich had another huge night with a pair of goals and four assists while Boudreau added two assists on top of his hat trick. King factored in on five goals with the game-winner and four helpers. For the Ice Breakers, Matt Kadolph had a goal and an assist while Steven Fowler added two assists. Rutledge earned the win for Watertown with a flawless 16-save performance. The series wraps up tomorrow night from Mentor Civic Ice Arena.
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.