by Nate Williamson
The Danville Dashers won the opening night matchup of the weekend homestand against the Battle Creek Rumble Bees on Friday night in Danville, Illinois by a score of 5-2, in an all-out team effort in front of a crowd that braved the harsh and rainy weather conditions. It was a fairly sleepy opening frame as the first period got underway on Athletico Wellness night on a seasonally warm, rainy night in downtown Danville. After a quick first half of the frame that saw two penalties well-killed by the Rumble Bees, it wasn't until Troy Murray made an outstanding one-man coast-to-coast run with 15:47 gone off the clock in the first period that the first goal came. Murray skated past three Battle Creek Rumble Bees, using a combination of size and stick dekes to cut up the Battle Creek defense, and shove a tight-angle goal past goaltender Trevor Babin. It took a while, but the game was underway as Jesse Neher got an assist for the initial pass. Both teams shrugged off some early rust as Battle Creek's Jakub Volf evened up the score just under forty-five seconds after Murray found the back of the net, on a nice solo effort that saw him collect his own rebound and fire home past Danville goaltender Jessie Gordichuk. With all six minutes of penalty time going against Battle Creek, they had hung in the game and the period ended deadlocked at 1-1. The second period got off to a very different start than the first, with the Dashers scoring three straight goals within the first nine minutes of game time. The first came from A.J. Tesoriero who, after several rebounds and saves from Trevor Babin, was in the right place at the right time on the power play, and wasted no time firing home from in front of the goal on assists from Tyler Quintos and Alex Pommerville. After that it was Mitch Atkins who buried home a rebound on assists from Fred Hein and Jesse Neher, putting the Dashers up three goals to one with just four minutes gone in the second period. After that it was Logan Hawgood finding the back of the net on assists from Justin Brausen and Sam Turner, to put the Dashers up by three. The Rumble Bees would sting just one more time as Austin Weber fired home a rebound after Michael Thomas and Maxim Noskov combined for assists, as the Bees cut Danville's lead to just 4-2 with just over two and a half minutes gone in the third period. Justin Brausen delivered the final blow for the Dashers as the team captain fired home at even strength just sixteen seconds later on an assist from A.J. Tesoriero in the prettiest goal of the night. Tesoriero won the faceoff, delivered the puck perfectly to the stick of Brausen, who fired home a one-timer to ice the night for Danville. The remaining 17 minutes and change were pretty lackadaisical from both sides, as tired legs prevailed later on in the game, which would end with a score of 5-2 in favor of the Dashers. The third star on the night went to Jesse Neher (2A), second star to A.J. Tesoriero (1G, 1A) and the first star to Justin Brausen (1G, 1A). The Dashers and Rumble Bees will go head to head once again tomorrow night in FPHL action at the David S. Palmer Arena, with the puck drop set for 7:05 pm central on 80's Night at the Arena, in the conclusion to the weekend series.