Weekend Sweep Pushes Ice Breakers Into First Place

By Jared Tennant

PHOTO: Jason Partanen

Battle Creek, MI – Consecutive blowout wins over the struggling Battle Creek Rumble Bees have pushed the Mentor Ice Breakers into a first-place tie in the FPHL’s Eastern Division through two weeks of play. The Ice Breakers used a four-goal second frame to claim a 7-2 win on Friday before logging their first shutout of the season in a 5-0 victory on Saturday night.

Friday, November 1 – Ice Breakers 7, Rumble Bees 2

Mentor wasted no time getting on the board in the series opener as forward Parker Moskal scored via assists from Jon Buttitta and Declan Conway less than two minutes into regulation, foreshadowing what was to come on a big night for the trio. Battle Creek fought back to tie it at 14:59 on a Carl Mansson goal. After finding the back of the net, Mansson collided with Ice Breakers netminder Austyn Roudebush, resulting in a retaliation by Mentor blueliner Brody Duncan that drew a two-minute charging penalty.

After the two clubs headed into the first intermission deadlocked at a goal apiece, Moskal struck for his second goal of the game at 1:21, hooking up with Conway and Buttitta once again to give the Ice Breakers a 2-1 lead. Conway would score at 9:16 before Buttitta notched a shorthanded tally under three minutes later, making the score 4-1 in favor of the Ice Breakers. Mentor capped off its four-goal second period when Buttitta added a power-play goal at 18:45 via a feed from Moskal. It marked the first time this season that the Ice Breakers have converted on the man advantage.

Leading 5-1 midway through the third period, Mentor headed to another power play when Battle Creek forward Cliff Ogle was called for interference, sending the Flint, Michigan product to the box for the second time in the contest. With less than 30 seconds to go in the power play, Duncan took the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot over the shoulder of Rumble Bees goaltender Jacob Mullen from a tough angle to put the Ice Breakers ahead 6-1.

Things started to get chippy shortly after Duncan’s goal, resulting in game misconducts to Ogle and Ice Breakers forward Steven Fowler, who was making his season debut. Both players received suspensions, with Ogle sitting out for one game while Fowler received a two-game ban.

With 20 seconds to go in the game, Battle Creek’s Eli Kinsman created a turnover in the Mentor zone and cashed in on a breakaway chance to cut the deficit to 6-2. Only 18 seconds later with the clock ticking down, Mentor forward Henry Berger scored his first pro goal, which came unassisted, to make the final score 7-2.

Ice Breakers goaltender Austyn Roudebush stopped 16 of 18 shots en route to his second win. Buttitta had a pair of goals and three helpers while Moskal contributed two goals and an assist. Conway chipped in with a 1-2-3 scoring line. Overall, the line of Moskal, Buttitta, and Conway combined for five goals and six assists (11 points). Mentor out-shot Battle Creek 45-18, including 34-13 over the final two periods.

Saturday, November 2 – Ice Breakers 5, Rumble Bees 0

Through three games, Roudebush had racked up nearly every impressive stat imaginable outside of a shutout. That changed on Saturday night when the 26-year-old stopped all 32 Battle Creek shots and became the second FPHL goaltender to post a shutout this season.

The Rumble Bees played with an improved effort through the first two periods of play. A goal by Ice Breakers rookie Zac McKenna at 16:55 proved to be the only offense for either club in the first frame. Alex Morrow and Duncan were credited with assists.

Battle Creek seemed to grab the momentum when Duncan took a delay of game penalty late in the second. That didn’t last long as Conway netted Mentor’s third shorthanded goal of the season at 18:56 to double the Ice Breakers’ advantage.

The Ice Breakers took control of the contest in a three-goal third period. After Jackson Tucker started the offensive burst at 7:42 with Conway and Vaughn Clouston getting the assists, Isaiah Crawford made it a 4-0 game at 15:49 off a pass from McKenna. Both Tucker and Crawford’s goals were the first of their respective pro careers. The two were former collegiate teammates at Trine University before coming to Mentor this season.

Richie Pinkowski capped off the scoring with just over two minutes remaining in the game, hooking up with a pair of second-year Ice Breakers in Nate Farrington and Morrow to make it a 5-0 final. Last season, Pinkowski had five points (1-4-5) over 32 appearances in a Mentor uniform.

Roudebush made 18 of his 32 saves in the second period to improve his record to 3-1-0. The Ohio native is second in the FPHL in goals-against average (1.25), save percentage (.959), shutouts (one), and wins (three). Another flawless night on the penalty kill pushed Mentor’s penalty kill percentage to 95.8 percent (23-for-24), second in the FPHL behind the Carolina Thunderbirds.

McKenna posted a career-high three points with a goal and two assists while Morrow dished out two assists. Mentor held a sizeable advantage in shots on goal, 49-32, including 22-7 in the final period. These two teams will match up again next weekend with a home-and-home series beginning in Battle Creek next Friday night.

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.