ICE BREAKERS DOMINATE IN FOURTH STRAIGHT WIN
By Jared Tennant
PHOTO: Dee Hannum
Mentor, OH – An offensive explosion guided by forwards Parker Moskal and Jon Buttitta powered the Mentor Ice Breakers to a 10-3 victory over the visiting Battle Creek Rumble Bees on Saturday night, completing a two-weekend, four-game sweep of the expansion Bees. The game was played in front of a franchise-record 702 fans at Mentor Civic Ice Arena and marked the Ice Breakers’ first home game of the 2019-20 season.
Mentor wasted no time finding the back of the net as Buttitta struck just 54 seconds into the contest. Almost exactly five minutes later, rookie Zac McKenna gave the home team a 2-0 advantage off feeds by Isaiah Crawford and Nikita Sidenko, giving both players their first professional assists. At 10:53, Buttitta deflected home a shot by Moskal on the power play to make it a 3-0 game.
Battle Creek fought back to cut the deficit to 3-1 on a goal by Eli Kinsman at 15:58, but Buttitta continued his big night by completing his hat trick at 16:12, hooking up with linemates Parker Moskal and Declan Conway. Buttitta’s three-goal output pushed him into first place in the FPHL with eight goals on the season.
Only 16 seconds later, John Champlain responded with his first goal of the year with Leejay Meguinis and former Ice Breaker Ryan Alves being credited with assists. Late in the period, Mentor restored its three-goal lead when Alex Morrow tipped in a Brody Duncan shot at 19:36, giving the pair of Ohio natives the Ice Breakers’ second power-play goal of the night.
Second-period goals by Zac McKenna (PP), Declan Conway, and Mark Essery (SH) stretched Mentor’s lead to 8-2 at the second break, essentially sealing Mentor’s win with a full period still to go. Essery’s goal was the Ice Breakers’ fourth shorthanded tally of the campaign, putting the team in first place in the league in that category.
Morrow notched his second of the game and second of the season at 2:34 of the final frame with Buttitta and Moskal both adding helpers. Mentor capped off its scoring when Essery found twine for the second time, this time on the man advantage, with Morrow and Nate Farrington getting assists. The trio of Essery, Morrow, and Farrington have been with the Ice Breakers since opening night of the club’s inaugural season last year.
A Carl Mansson power-play tally for Battle Creek at 4:48 made the final score 10-3. The Ice Breakers, who held a 43-17 advantage in shots on goal, went 4-for-7 on the power play, pushing the conversion rate on the season to 33.3 percent (second-best in FPHL).
Moskal dished out a career-high six assists in the game while Buttitta finished with a 3-2-5 scoring line. Moskal leads the league with 10 helpers on the year while Buttitta paces the FPHL in both points (14) and goals scored (eight).
“My linemates were always there tonight,” said Buttitta. “I was just in the right spot at the right time and they were dishing it to me all night. Putting the puck in the net three times in the first period was a great feeling.”
Morrow had a three-point performance (2-1-3) while Essery and McKenna each netted a pair of goals. Conway chipped in with a goal and an assist while goaltender Austyn Roudebush picked up his fifth win with a 14-save effort. For Battle Creek, Mansson added a goal and an assist while Nathan Margets and Alves dished out two assists each.
The Ice Breakers will now head to Delaware to take on the Thunder in a home-and-home weekend series from November 15-16. The club will cap off the weekend with a Sunday afternoon matchup at home against the Danville Dashers.