Ice Breakers Weekly Preview 11.13.19
By Jared Tennant
PHOTO: Steve Hale
Mentor Ice Breakers (5-1-0-0, 15 pts., t-1st place - Eastern Div.)
FRI/SAT: vs. Delaware Thunder (1-5-0-0, 3 pts., 5th place – Eastern Div.)
SUN: vs. Danville Dashers (4-2-0-0, 12 pts., 2nd place – Western Div.)
The Mentor Ice Breakers look to extend their franchise-record four-game winning streak this weekend with a full slate of three contests in three days. The team will kick things off on the East Coast with its first-ever matchup against the Delaware Thunder. The two clubs will travel to Northeast Ohio the next day to square off at Mentor Civic Ice Arena before the Ice Breakers finish out the weekend with a Sunday afternoon game against the Danville Dashers on home ice.
During Saturday and Sunday’s home games, the Ice Breakers will honor those who are serving or have served with Military Weekend, presented by Habco Tool and Development. The team will wear specialty jerseys to be auctioned off on the LiveSource app following Sunday’s game. All military personnel will receive a $3 ticket discount, which can be activated on online orders by using the code “MIL.”
Throughout the weekend, the Ice Breakers will be collecting warming items for The Sub Zero Mission. Those items will then be distributed to local homeless veterans. Fans who bring items such as hats, gloves, winter coats (men’s sizes L-4XL), boots (men’s sizes 9-13), and new socks on November 16 or 17 will receive a ticket voucher for a future home game this season.
WHEN/WHERE: VS. DELAWARE:
Friday, November 15, 7:05 p.m. @ Delaware Fairgrounds Center Ice Arena
Saturday, November 16, 6:30 p.m. @ Mentor Civic Ice Arena (Mentor, OH)
Sunday, November 17, 3:00 p.m. @ Mentor Civic Ice Arena (Mentor, OH)
LIVE BROADCAST: FRI – Delaware Thunder YouTube channel
SAT/SUN – Mentor Ice Breakers YouTube channel
FPHL STANDINGS: Click here
MENTOR ICE BREAKERS NOTES
A dominate four-game sweep of Battle Creek allowed the Ice Breakers to keep pace with Watertown at the top of the Eastern Division. Both clubs own 5-1-0-0 records, good for 15 points. Mentor currently holds the tiebreaker based on its superior goal differential (plus-19).
The last two weeks have seen the Ice Breakers put together their most dominant two-week stretch of hockey in team history. They outscored Battle Creek 27-8 and registered at least five goals in every game. Mentor logged its first shutout of the season with a 5-0 victory on November 2 and posted double-digit goals in its home opener last Saturday night.
The Ice Breakers lead the FPHL in goals for (31) and goal differential (plus-19) and own the league’s second-longest active winning streak behind Watertown. They are tied with the Wolves and Carolina Thunderbirds for first place in the league standings and are the second-best defensive team in the circuit, allowing an average of two goals per game.
HOMEGROWN: The majority of Mentor’s key players this year are Ohio natives, including leading scorer Jon Buttitta, forward Declan Conway, starting netminder Austyn Roudebush, and defenseman Brody Duncan. The team also features forwards Alex Morrow and Zac MacKenna, two more players with Ohio roots.
HOT HAND: Forward Parker Moskal set an Ice Breakers record with six assists in the club’s home opener last Saturday. With a 3-10-13 scoring line over six appearances, Moskal is second in the FPHL in assists and fourth in scoring. He has four multi-point efforts under his belt and has picked up right where he left off last season, when he was named the league’s Rookie of the Month for March and April for his performance down the stretch.
GOLDEN FLASH: Buttitta is locked in a three-way tie for the FPHL lead in scoring with 14 points (8-6-14). His hat trick Saturday gave him eight goals on the year, matching Watertown’s Deric Boudreau for most in the league. Buttitta is the Ice Breakers’ leader in power-play goals (two), shorthanded tallies (two), and game-winners (two). The Cleveland product is proving that his 6-6-12 scoring line over games in Mentor last spring was no fluke.
MAN DOWN MAGIC: Led by Buttitta, Mentor has netted an FPHL-best four shorthanded goals. The team’s penalty-killing unit is second in efficiency at 93.8 percent (30 for 32). The Ice Breakers have been shorthanded the most of any club in the league with the exception of Elmira, but have still found success with a man in the sin bin.
OFFENSIVE-MINDED: Blueliners Vaughn Clouston and Duncan make up the highest-scoring d-men duo in the FPHL with a combined 11 points (3-8-11). Clouston has the third-most points among all FPHL defensemen.
HEATING UP: Forward Mark Essery was the only Ice Breaker to eclipse the half-century mark in scoring last season with 23 goals and 28 assists for a total of 51 points. After failing to find the back of the net through his first three appearances, the Framingham, Massachusetts, native scored twice on Saturday, including a shorthanded goal in the third period. Essery is now averaging a point per game with a 2-2-4 scoring line over four games.
STARTING OFF RIGHT: Newly signed Nikita Sidenko made his pro debut on Saturday and wasted no time getting his name onto the scoresheet, logging an assist on Mentor’s second goal of the game. The Kazakhstani forward spent last season with the Temiscaming Titans in the GMHL, collecting 40 points (19-21-40) in 49 games.
MAKING THEM PAY: After going 4 for 7 on the man-advantage Saturday, the Ice Breakers vaulted up the league rankings in power-play efficiency, pushing their season conversion rate to 33.3 percent (7 for 21).
DELAWARE THUNDER NOTES
While their record to this point doesn’t catch your eye, the Delaware Thunder feature some of the top talent in the FPHL. A tough early-season schedule has put the expansion Thunder into some lopsided matchups, but they flashed their potential in an 8-2 thrashing of Columbus during opening weekend.
Delaware has dropped four straight heading into this weekend, partially due to tough matchups against Carolina and Elmira, the two teams that met in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals last spring. Beginning Friday night, the Thunder will play three of their next four games in front of their hometown fans.
TOUGH CUSTOMERS: Last year, Alex Basey and Taylor Cutting provided physical, hard-hitting play for the Danville Dashers. The duo has reunited with the Thunder this season. Basey, who had a four-game stint with the SPHL’s Quad City Storm last year, has racked up 30 penalty minutes in six appearances. Cutting will return from a five-game suspension Saturday night in Mentor.
DYNAMIC DUO: Forwards Ryan Marker and Brandon Contratto, another pair of former Dashers, own identical 6-8-14 scoring lines and are tied with Mentor’s Buttitta for the league lead in scoring. Contratto has played eight games against the Ice Breakers, scoring five goals while dishing out five assists for 10 points. Marker only played a pair of games against Mentor last season before his SPHL call-up, totaling seven points with two goals and five assists.
PATROLLING THE CREASE: Another important player who previously donned a Danville jersey is goaltender Aaron Taylor. Taylor’s stats aren’t quite up to his career standards so far, but the third-year veteran always presents a challenge for the opposition.
SWAPPING JERSEYS: The Thunder acquired Egor Kostyukov and Anton Kalinin in a trade with Watertown this week. Both players have multiple games of experience suiting up against the Ice Breakers.
DANVILLE DASHERS NOTES
The Ice Breakers and Dashers will meet for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon. Danville, which will be tasked with a pair of home games against Carolina on Friday and Saturday, is looking to rebound from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Watertown, putting a damper on the team’s 4-0-0-0 run to start the season.
RETURNING STARS: The Dashers’ offense is led by second-year forward Fred Hein (5-6-11) and FPHL staple Justin Brausen (7-1-8). Brausen ranks third on the league’s all-time scoring list with 349 points (195-154-349). He needs only 24 more points to move into second place on that list. This year, Brausen has netted an FPHL-best four power-play goals, while Hein is among the top 10 scorers in the league.
BOTH ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM: While Danville’s power-play success rate is a fantastic 32.1 percent, it has the second-worst penalty kill at 71.4 percent. The Ice Breakers will look to continue their recent success on the man-advantage against the struggling Dashers penalty kill unit.
TALL TASK: With games against the Ice Breakers and Carolina this weekend, Danville will take on the top two defensive teams in the FPHL. It will be interesting to see if the Dashers, who average just under five goals per game, can keep rolling offensively.
AROUND THE FPHL
The Danbury Hat Tricks made a statement in their first win in franchise history last Friday, handing Carolina its first loss of the year with a narrow 6-5 win. Despite falling in another one-goal game the following evening, the Hat Tricks and recently acquired goaltender Dillon Harvey proved they can compete with the best the league has to offer.
In Michigan, the Columbus River Dragons continued their recent trend of one-goal games with a two-game split against Port Huron. Both clubs won by the same score, 4-3, and both games ended in regulation. The Prowlers and River Dragons will meet again this weekend in another two-game series at McMorran Arena.
Mentor will welcome Port Huron to Northeast Ohio for the first time this season with pair of matchups November 22-23. After that, the Ice Breakers will take a road trip down to Georgia for three matchups against Columbus over the span of four days.
The Ice Breakers, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, are in their second season of play. 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.