Enforcers Top Ice Breakers in Physical Battle
By Jared Tennant
Mentor, OH - In a game of hard hits and physical play, the visiting Elmira Enforcers defeated the Mentor Ice Breakers by a score of 4-2 at Mentor Civic Ice Arena on Friday night.
The Ice Breakers grabbed the momentum early in the game when forward Mark Essery took advantage of some confusion on the Enforcers end to give Mentor a 1-0 lead. Elmira seemed to be arguing for a penalty, but Essery scooped up the loose puck and sent it past Enforcers starter Ryan Mulder for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. Elmira stormed back with a stretch of three goals over the course of 2:40. Sean Reynolds started things with a power play tally at 11:07 off assists from Mitch Atkins and Glen Patterson. Cameron Yarwood gave the Enforcers a 2-1 advantage via feeds from Reynolds and Patterson. The third goal of Elmira’s hot stretch came after a defensive breakdown by the Ice Breakers. Mentor left Dmytro Babenko wide open between the circles and he sent a slapshot past Ice Breakers netminder Derek Moser, who had a rare rough outing. Moser was pulled from the game following the third Enforcers goal and replaced by John Sellie-Hanson, who made his Ice Breakers debut. It was evident in the opening period that some bad blood was growing between the two clubs. Midway through the frame, Ice Breakers blueliner Thomas Devesvre checked an Enforcers player into the Mentor bench, which was one of several big hits in the period.
Elmira stretched its lead to 4-1 at 5:18 of the second period when Atkins tallied a goal assisted by Brendan Hussey. Atkins skated the puck towards Sellie-Hanson from left-to-right before deking past the Mentor netminder and sending a backhanded finish into the open net. It was the only blemish on an otherwise fabulous night from Sellie-Hanson, who stopped 18 of 19 shots in the game for a .947 save percentage. A little under three minutes after Elmira’s fourth goal, Mentor took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to make it a 4-2 game. Gordy Bonnel sent a rebound into the back of the net after Brody Duncan’s backhander was deflected by Mulder.
Both sides threw some mammoth hits in the final period, which led to the first fight of the game between Essery and Joe Cannan. Cannan, a veteran of over 40 FHL games, was ejected from the game after taunting the Ice Breakers bench. Both teams converged at the end of the game and Mentor forward Vaughn Clouston brawled with Stephan Timofeyev at the final buzzer. Players from both sides smartly skated away after the fight, avoiding a potentially ugly situation heading into tomorrow night’s series finale.
Mentor narrowly held the edge in shots on goal by a 30-29 margin. Ultimately, the Enforcers’ stretch of three goals in under three minutes in the opening period doomed the Ice Breakers. Mulder made 28 saves for Elmira en route to his fourth win of the season. Moser took the loss for Mentor, falling to 5-4-0 on the campaign.
Photo credit: Dee Hannum