Ice Breakers Cap off Inaugural Season with Win
By Jared Tennant
Mentor, OH - In their final game of the year, the Mentor Ice Breakers took down the shorthanded Elmira Enforcers by a 6-3 final at Mentor Civic Ice Arena. The Enforcers dressed only 14 players in preparation for the postseason, including Assistant Coach Paul MacLean, and put up a solid effort throughout the night.
Ice Breakers fan favorite Ivan Vilcauskas opened the scoring just over six minutes into the contest off feeds from Richie Pinkowski and Joe Ftoma. It was his 2nd goal of the year and gave the Ice Breakers an early lead, but Elmira fought back to tie it at 19:07 on the power play with a one-timer by Kyle Stevens. Mentor held a 20-7 advantage in shots on goal through the first period, but the stellar play of Enforcers netminder Nick Niedert kept things tied up. His counterpart, Ice Breakers starter Derek Moser, didn’t see a ton of work in the first 20 minutes, but was able to stonewall Dmytro Babenko on a penalty shot.
Midway through the second frame, 47 year old Toledo Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Deazeley scored on a rebound for his 1st professional goal in over 20 years. Brett Oldaker and Michael Sullivan both got assists as the Ice Breakers took a 2-1 lead. After Mentor killed off 26 seconds of a 5-on-3 Enforcers’ power play, Steven Fowler began what would turn out to be a fantastic night at 19:06 with his 13th goal of the year, making it a 3-1 game.
The Ice Breakers extended their lead less than two minutes into the final period when Parker Moskal used a beautiful deke to get around two Enforcers before slipping a puck through Niedert, who tried to freeze it, for an easy finish into an open net for Alex Morrow. Jon Buttitta logged the secondary assist and will finish his first taste of pro hockey with a 6-6-12 scoring line over eight appearances. Elmira cut the lead back to two when Marko Novosel scored through the five-hole at 3:24 off assists from JT Walters and MacLean. Fowler scored his second of the contest at 12:46 to give the Ice Breakers a 5-2 lead. Glen Patterson was able to capitalize on a five-minute power play late in the contest, but Fowler completed his hat trick with an empty net goal at 18:10 to make it a 6-3 final.
For the Ice Breakers, Buttitta and Pinkowski both contributed a pair of assists, while five different players found the back of the net. On the Enforcers’ side, Stevens and Patterson both had a goal and an assist. Elmira went 2-for-7 on the man advantage, while Mentor failed to capitalize on their lone power play. Between the pipes, Niedert took a tough-luck loss after stopping 55 of the 60 shots he faced, while Moser finished out his rookie campaign by stopping 34 of 37 shots and moving to 12-18-4.
With the win, the Ice Breakers were able to leapfrog the Danville Dashers, who were blown out by the Carolina Thunderbirds in their final game of the season, and finish at 5th place in the final FHL standings. Meanwhile, Elmira is set to open a best-of-three first round series against the Watertown Wolves next Friday night on the road.
Photo credit: Dee Hannum