Taylor Backstops Thunder Past Ice Breakers

By Jared Tennant

PHOTO: Dee Hannum

Mentor, OH – On a night in which the home team piled up a season-high 53 shots on goal, the visiting Delaware Thunder took down the host Mentor Ice Breakers by a 3-2 score on Saturday in Northeast Ohio, rebounding from their 5-2 home loss the previous night against the Ice Breakers. Delaware’s victory snapped a five-game winless skid while the Ice Breakers loss halted the team’s franchise-record five-game winning streak.

After overcoming an early bench minor for too many men on the ice, the Thunder broke open the scoring with Evgenii Demin’s first of the year at 18:41. Egor Kostyukov and Brennan Young logged assists on the tally, which sent Delaware to the intermission with their first lead over Mentor this season.

Six minutes into the second frame, Delaware forward Weng To was called for a minor penalty due to an equipment violation as his chinstrap was not properly fastened. The mistake proved to be costly as FPHL leading scorer Jon Buttitta netted his 10th of the year on a rebound attempt just 13 seconds into the man advantage, giving the Ice Breakers three power-play goals in two games against the Thunder and tying the game at 1-1.

Just over four minutes later at 10:34, Delaware capitalized on its first man advantage of the night as Daniel DiCristofaro scored for the second time this year, with both goals coming on the power play. Delaware’s top scoring duo of Ryan Marker and Brandon Contratto both factored into the tally with assists.

The Thunder successfully killed off a brief 5-on-3 Mentor advantage, generating some additional momentum as the two clubs headed to the locker room for the second break. After Declan Conway took a holding penalty at 5:08 of the third period, Delaware took advantage of the Ice Breakers’ previously stout penalty kill unit once again with another power play tally to extend its lead to 3-1. Marker scored the goal off assists from Demin and Anton Kalinin. Heading into the contest, Mentor ranked second in the FPHL in penalty kill efficiency at 92.1 percent.

Exactly 61 seconds later, Parker Moskal broke through the brick wall that was Thunder netminder Aaron Taylor with a wicked wrist shot from the slot. Blueliners Brody Duncan and Vaughn Clouston, the highest-scoring defensive duo in the FPHL, were credited with assists. From there, the Ice Breakers were unable to take advantage of a couple of power plays and couldn’t quite solve Taylor, who earned a well-deserved win by a 3-2 final to move his record to 2-6-0-0 on the young season.

For Mentor, goaltender Austyn Roudebush suffered his first home loss, falling to 6-2-0-0 overall after stopping 24 of 27 Delaware shots. Delaware’s Demin and Marker each contributed a goal and an assist while Contratto dished out two helpers.

The Thunder will head home to Delaware as their slate of games for the weekend has concluded. Meanwhile, the Ice Breakers will look to get back into the win column tomorrow afternoon as they play host to the Danville Dashers, who will be taking a long overnight bus ride from Winston-Salem, North Carolina following the club’s 4-1 loss to the Carolina Thunderbirds.