Weekly Preview 11.20.19
By Jared Tennant
PHOTO: Dee Hannum
Mentor Ice Breakers (7-2-0-0, 21 pts., 2nd place - Eastern Div.) vs.
Port Huron Prowlers (2-4-0-2, 10 pts., 4th place – Western Div.)
The Mentor Ice Breakers will battle the Port Huron Prowlers for the first time this season with a pair of home matchups this weekend at Mentor Ice Arena. On Friday, the team will host its first postgame skate of the season. The event is free for all fans in attendance, and rental skates are available for just $3 in the arena lobby. The game will also mark the first Junior Ice Breakers Kids Club Kids Night of the year. All Kids Club members will receive free admission with a paying adult.
Saturday is Princesses, Superheroes, and Villains Theme Night. Dress up as your favorite character for a chance to win an Ice Breakers prize. This weekend is also the beginning of the team’s 2019 Toys for Tots campaign. Fans can bring new, unwrapped toys for kids in need that will be distributed during the holiday season.
WHEN/WHERE: Friday, November 22, 7:35 p.m. @ Mentor Ice Arena (Mentor, OH)
Saturday, November 23, 6:30 p.m. @ Mentor Ice Arena (Mentor, OH)
LIVE BROADCAST: Mentor Ice Breakers YouTube channel
FPHL STANDINGS: Click here
MENTOR ICE BREAKERS NOTES
Despite falling out of a first-place tie with the streaking Watertown Wolves, the Mentor Ice Breakers had another successful weekend, winning two out of three games, including another victory on the road. The Ice Breakers still have the FPHL’s top offense with 45 goals through nine games (five goals per game). The club’s defense checks in at number three behind Watertown and Carolina, giving up 2.33 goals a game.
After playing six of its first seven games in enemy territory, the Ice Breakers are in the midst of a four-game homestand. The team split games against Delaware and Danville to begin the stretch and will wrap things up with this weekend’s contests against Port Huron. With a potentially tough three-game road matchup against Columbus looming next week, it’s important that the Ice Breakers are on top of their game against the veteran Prowlers this weekend.
ALWAYS A BATTLE: Mentor and Port Huron played a fantastic 13-game season series last year with the Prowlers holding a slight 7-6-0-0 edge over the Ice Breakers. However, Mentor played some its best games of the season against the Prowlers, including its first victory in franchise history, a 6-4 win on the road on November 17, 2018. Other notable affairs included a 4-3 Ice Breakers home win on New Year’s Eve and a pair of wins that saw Mentor register 10 goals or more.
SHARING THE PUCK: Unlike last season, Mentor has brought a balanced offensive attack among its forwards. Six different players are scoring at a point-per-game pace, including F Declan Conway (5-8-13), F Alex Morrow (2-7-9), and F Mark Essery (2-6-8). Twelve different players have scored multiple goals for the Ice Breakers.
LEADING THE WAY: F Jon Buttitta (12-10-22) and F Parker Moskal (6-13-19) represent the top two scorers in the FPHL to this point. Both players were late-season additions last year and have picked up right where they left off. Buttitta has collected four or more points on three separate occasions this year, while Moskal has registered multiple points in six of his nine appearances, including a six-assist performance in the Ice Breakers’ home opener on November 9, a 10-3 win over Battle Creek.
WORKHORSE: G Austyn Roudebush has drawn the start in every Mentor game so far, compiling a 2.23 goals-against average to go along with a .927 save percentage. He paces the FPHL with seven wins and is the only goaltender that has seen 100 percent of the playing time for his club.
TAKING ADVANTAGE: Mentor’s power play unit continues to impress after netting five goals over the weekend. The Ice Breakers have converted at least once on the man advantage in five straight games and lead the league in efficiency at 30 percent (12 for 40).
PORT HURON PROWLERS NOTES
While they seem to be in a competitive game nearly every night, the Port Huron Prowlers find themselves in fourth place in the Western Division with a 2-4-2-0 record, 11 points behind first-place Carolina. The Prowlers are coming off a back-and-forth stretch of four consecutive home games against Columbus that saw both clubs claim a pair of victories.
On the road, Port Huron has posted an 0-2-2-0 mark, which is largely due to being matched up against a red-hot Watertown team in New York. While the Prowlers’ performance up to this point doesn’t stand out on paper, the club is always one of the toughest to take down in the FPHL. Littered with veteran talent on both ends of the ice, the Prowlers will be looking to jump into second place in their division this weekend.
ROBERTSON RISING: After a relatively quiet stretch compared to his normally lofty standards, F Matt Robertson has erupted for five goals and five assists over his last three games, including a dominant performance last Saturday that saw him factor into all six of his team’s goals with a hat trick and three assists.
Robertson, the FPHL’s fifth all-time leading scorer with 299 points (126-173-299), will almost certainly hit the 300-point milestone for his career this weekend barring a shutdown defensive performance by the Ice Breakers.
TOP TIER TALENT: Last season, F Dalton Jay came up just short of the league scoring title with a monster 105-point (43-62-105) showing. He put up eye-popping numbers in 13 matchups against Mentor with 32 points (11-21-32), including back-to-back hat tricks over a span of two days February 8 and 9. Jay is producing at a similar rate in the early going this season with a 4-6-10 scoring line over eight games.
FRANCHISE LEADERS: Three current Prowlers rank within the top five on the club’s all-time scoring list: Robertson (first, 299 points), Jay (third, 173 points), and F Matt Graham (fifth, 156 points).
BACK IN THE CREASE: One of the better netminders in FPHL history, G Cory Simons, has re-signed with Port Huron. He already has one start under his belt, stopping 31 of 33 shots against Columbus last weekend to pick up his first win. Historically, Simons has been solid in net against the Ice Breakers, putting together a .935 save percentage in seven appearances against Mentor.
AROUND THE FPHL
Carolina created some separation at the top of the Western Division with last weekend’s two-game sweep of Danville, with both wins coming by a score of 4-1. G Patrik Polivka drew his first two starts and earned victories in both games, stopping 55 of 57 Danville attempts in total.
Meanwhile, Watertown demolished Battle Creek in a three-game sweep, extending its winning streak to eight games. The Wolves have two of the top three goal-scorers in the league on their roster in F Tyler Gjurich (11-7-18) and F Deric Boudreau (10-7-17).
Elmira and Danbury faced off in Connecticut last weekend and split a two-game set. The Hat Tricks claimed their first home win in franchise history by a 7-4 final on Friday before Elmira exacted its revenge the following evening with a dominant 8-3 win. The two Eastern Division rivals are separated by four points in the league standings.
The Ice Breakers will take a road trip down to Georgia for three matchups against Columbus over the span of four days next week. After that, the club will travel to Danville for a one-game matchup against the Dashers on December 6.
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.